Israeli Air Force 'Entebbe raid' C-130 among five being auctioned

By David Kaminski-Morrow

One of the Israeli Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft which participated in the audacious rescue of Air France hostages at Entebbe, Uganda, is among a batch of five being auctioned by the ministry of defence.

The aircraft, bearing Israeli Air Force identifier 106, was one of four deployed after an Air France Airbus A300 - operating Tel Aviv-Athens-Paris - was hijacked out of Greece on 27 June 1976 and diverted to Uganda.

In its official tender documentation, the ministry lists aircraft 106, which was built in 1971, as an 'early H' variant with 14,395 landings. It says this aircraft "may be in use" by the air force until no later than 30 September.

Of the other four C-130s being sold - aircraft 301, 304, 312 and 313 - two are not in flying condition and the other two are only fit for spares. The tender also includes 18 Rolls-Royce Allison T56 engines. The ministry is inviting bidders to attend a 5 March 'acquaintance tour' to view the aircraft at Lod air base. Bids must be submitted by 31 March.

Six days after the hijack, on 3 July, Israeli special forces division Sayeret Matkal launched a rescue assault. Using the C-130s they transported a Mercedes limousine and other vehicles to Uganda, intending to land at Entebbe Airport at night, pass themselves off as a government cavalcade, and drive to the airport terminal where over 100 hostages had been taken.

While this decoy plan was only partly successful, the night-time raid resulted in the deaths of all the hijackers, against the loss of three hostages in the terminal building. During a fierce fire-fight as the special forces withdrew, several Ugandan MiG-17s were destroyed to prevent pursuit, and dozens of Ugandan soldiers were killed.

Sayeret Matkal lost only one member, Yonatan Netenyahu, after whom the raid on Entebbe, Operation Yonatan, was renamed. The other three Israeli C-130s used in the raid are understood to be aircraft numbers 420, 435 and 102.

Air France's hijacked A300, serial number 19, still remains in service as a freighter with Turkish carrier MNG Airlines.

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