Eight years have passed since Nevatim AFB, that used to be a small fighter base, became the home of the IAF’s Heavy Transport Division. The division has since grown, developed and establish its position in IAF activity in routine and emergency. How was the base adapted to the needs of the division?

Zohar Boneh

Eight years have passed since the Heavy Transport Division moved into its new home in Nevatim AFB. The division’s squadrons were previously positioned in Lod AFB, which was closed as a result of a government decision. The re-positioning project of the base was one of the first steps in the process of moving IDF bases to the south.

“Nevatim AFB might have been an IAF base for many years, but the expansion we conducted in preparation for the arrival of the heavy transport division were very significant”, said Col. (Res’) Zvi Twizer, who led the transfer project. “In practice, you could say that we built a new base”.

An Aerial Oasis

Archive Photo

In the years before the integration of the division, Nevatim AFB was a small fighter squadron base, but when the decision to move IDF bases to the south was made, the base was chosen to be the division’s new home. Since the arrival of the division to the base, the Tactical Transport Division has established its abilities and strengthened its position in the IAF routine and emergency activity. In the summer of 2013, the AFB’s order of power grew when the first “Shimshon” (Super Hercules C-130J) landed and in three and half months, it will grow again, upon the arrival of the advanced “Adir” (F-35I) which will lead the IAF into the fifth generation.

“When the heavy transport division was transferred to the base, the first thing we needed to do was renovate the runways. The length and width of the runways fitted the fighter jets that were once positioned here”, said Lt. Col. Shmulik Vaturi, Commander of Nevatim AFB’s Maintenance Squadron. “The heavy transport aircraft, the ‘Re’em’ (Boeing 707) the ‘Karnaf’ (Hercules C-130) and the ‘Nachson’ (Gulfstream) required longer and wider runways, so new runways were built and among them, the longest runway in the Middle East”.

“We also needed to build the proper infrastructure for these giant aircraft”, added Lt. Col. Vaturi. “Instead of Hardened Aircraft Shelters, they built lines on which they could maintain the aircraft, giant sheds for more thorough maintenance and special labs for the AFB’s maintenance squadron”.

An Aerial Oasis

Archive Photo