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Israeli Sea Corps - Modernization

Although reduced in scope from earlier plans, a modernization program for the navy approved in 1988 included the acquisition of three Saar 5-class corvettes to be built in the United States and three Dolphin-class diesel submarines to be built in West Germany, and the upgrading of existing patrol boats. The 1,000-ton Saar 5s, which would be the most potent surface vessels in the fleet, would each be equipped with Harpoon and Gabriel missiles, as well as a helicopter. They would considerably enhance the navy's range and offensive capability.

In 1988 the fleet contained approximately seventy combat vessels, including three submarines, three missile-armed hydrofoils, twenty-two fast attack craft equipped with Israeli-built Gabriel missiles, and thirty-two coastal patrol boats. In assembling its fleet, the navy had shunned large vessels, preferring small ships with high firepower, speed, and maneuverability. The Reshef-class fast attack craft, the heart of the Israeli fleet, had a range of about 2,400 kilometers.

At the turn of the century The major vessels of the navy were three 1,075-ton Eilat (Sa'ar 5) corvettes and three Dolphin class submarines which came into service around the year 2000 to replace 420-ton Gal (Vickers type 540) submarines. Israel maintains a fleet of 11 fast attack craft (missile), consisting of eight 488-ton Hetz (Sa'ar 4.5) craft and two 415-ton Reshef (Sa'ar 4) craft [the two Aliya (Sa'ar 4.5) craft have been phawsed out]. All are armed with McDonnell Douglas Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles. The IN also operates 21 54-ton Super Dvora class fast attack craft (gun) and 15 39-ton Dabur class coastal patrol craft.

For Israel's amphibious infantry forces the navy can deploy one 24-ton landing craft personnel (LCP) vessel, with a military lift of 22 troops and one ton of equipment, and three 730-ton Ashdod class landing craft tank (LCT). There is one 1,150-ton Bat Sheva-class auxiliary vessel. The navy had long hopee to build two new landing ships for the transport of large numbers of ships but funds are understood not to be available. There were reports in 1998 that a Newport class landing ship tank would be leased from the US in the very near future, but this was not confirmed.

There are maritime surveillance aircraft and naval attack helicopters deployed with the navy but they are regarded as part of the air force inventory. There is a naval commando unit, with a strength of about 300, the personnel of which are trained as frogmen and divers.

The Israeli Navy's need for constant modernization of its combat platforms and systems makes it possible for SIBAT to offer excess inventory. High performance, highly integrated combat systems comprising small to medium sized vessels with exceptional weapons-per-ton ratio are offered at competitive prices. Moreover, customers are offered the Total Package Approach to assure self sustained operation and comprehensive after sales support.

By 2011, the Israel Navy had shelved long-held plans to purchase Lockheed Martin-produced Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) due to their ever-rising costs, as well as exercising a fallback option involving corvettes built by Northrop Grumman. Instead, the Navy looked to establish a combat shipbuilding industry through customized, locally built versions of a German corvette design. The Navy also planned to buy four more Super Dvora and two Shaldag patrol boats, and was considering producing two modified versions of the Sa'ar 5-class corvette domestically.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz [as of 2012] was a strong supporter for a stockier navy. As chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee he released a paper which saw the navy acquiring frigates, (4,000 tons), destroyers (9,200 tons) and cruisers (12,000 tons) equipped with cruise missiles with a range of some 2,000 kilometers, assault drones and marine artillery, including one being developed now which is capable of firing satellite-guided 155mm rounds between 75 and 120 kilometers.

By October 2014 the Defense Ministry was considering a German proposal to sell Israel Meko A-100 combat vessels for the protection of its Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mediterranean Sea. The bid came months after the ministry issued a tender for the purchase of ships to defend the zone, which contains underwater-gas reservoirs and offshore platforms.

Germany will spend up to 115 million euro ($143 million) from the federal budget on the construction of warships for Israel, Bild am Sonntag reported 14 December 2014, citing a confidential letter addressed to the German Budget Committee from the German Deputy Finance Minister Steffen Kampeter. According to the letter, the Defense Ministry requires the funding to create "defense systems" for Israel. The newspaper said Israel was going to construct four warships worth 1 billion euros at the ThyssenKrupp Marine shipbuilding plant in the northern German city of Kiel, in order to secure the economic zone in the Mediterranean.

By late 2016, Israel reportedly planned to upgrade its entire surface combat fleet. New German-built Sa'ar-6 corvette warships are expected to join the fleet over the next few years, and new radars with electronic warfare systems are being installed on existing Sa'ar-5 and Sa'ar-4.5 ships. The total cost of four Sa'ar-6 corvettes was estimated as 430 million euros ($468 million).




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