Saar 6 Corvette - Program
By the turn of the century the Israeli Navy was in the market for an advanced missile boat – one with a 1,300 ton displacement, similar to the largest vessel currently in Israeli service. The Sa’ar 5 is manufactured by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Navy had announced plans to procure Lockheed Martin’s LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) with a 2,000 ton displacement. But the negotiations came to an end after the company restructured the project and the price per ship dramatically increased. The Israeli Navy then considered building a similar-sized vessel based on the German MEKO A-100 corvette in Israeli shipyards, but this idea also came to nothing.
In May 2015, Israel and Germany signed an agreement to equip the Israeli Navy with four “Sa’ar 6” ships from the “Magen” line, which would be a central element in the defense of Israel’s economic waters, strategic assets, and continuous energy of the State of Israel at sea. The “Sa’ar 6” ship has many capabilities, including a high-trajectory anti-missile system and a high-trajectory shooting interceptor, close and far-reaching attack capability, long-term survivability, sea and air detection capabilities, and the ability to carry a Seahawk helicopter. The four ships were expected to arrive by the beginning of 2021, the first of which will arrive at the end of 2019.
"A ceremony which marked the construction initiation of the Saar 6 Class Corvettes was held in Kiel, Germany. Four Saar 6 Class Corvettes will be integrated gradually into the Israeli Navy over the next three years," it was announced 07 February 2018. Israeli Navy Commander Aluf Eli Sharvit described the German-built corvettes as key to the maritime missile shield. The sea-based Iron Dome went live last November. Together with three US-built ships already in service, the four corvettes will protect the Jewish state’s gas rigs and shipping lanes from rocket attacks.
Several Israeli businessmen, including confidants of PM Netanyahu and a former commander of the navy, are suspects in a graft scandal connected to the purchase of the warships and submarines from German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp. Israeli police raided the Ministry of Defense as part of the investigation into the negotiations of the naval transaction of several billion shekels about a shipbuilding contract involving German ThyssenKrupp. The purchase of patrol ships and submarines was carefully examined after it was found that David Shimron, the personal lawyer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also served as an adviser to ThyssenKrupp group, the shipbuilder that was awarded the contract.
On April 22, 2018, Israeli Navy Commander in Chief, Major General Eli Sharvit, announced the names of the four upcoming “Sa’ar 6” boats: INS “Magen,” “Oz,” “Independence,” and “Victory.” Navy Commander in Chief, Major General Eli Sharvit said, “We will receive the ships in about two years, each one a few months after the last. The arrival of the ships is expected to significantly change the face of the Navy and the Shayetet 3 in particular. The Israeli Navy will employ tools with new capabilities that we do not possess today with excellent and precise defense and attack capabilities, headed by the defense of the State of Israel’s strategic assets at sea.”
In May 2019, the "INS Magen" as first of class received her name in Kiel and was handed over in November 2020. The second ship, "INS Oz" followed in May 2021. Today, with “INS Atzmaut” and “INS Nitzachon” the order was completed. The ships will be equipped with radar and weapon systems by the Israeli Navy after their arrival in their homeport.
On May 23, 2019, the world's most modern corvette was named INS Magen at a ceremony in Kiel. This marks another important milestone in the ongoing program of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems as General Contractor to build four next-generation SA'AR-6 class missile corvettes for the Israeli Navy. The ship was named by Mrs. Eti Sharvit, wife of Vice Admiral Eli Sharvit, Chief of the Israeli Navy, in presence of high-level representatives from the Israeli Government and Navy as well as high-ranking German Navy officials. Dr. Rolf Wirtz, CEO of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems: "We are very proud to be contributing to Israel's security. The corvettes are the most advanced and most sizeable vessels that ever served in the Israeli Navy. With the final fitting out being conducted by Israeli industry, the ships will also largely contribute to the country's economy."
Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems handed over the two ships to the Israeli Navy 27 July 2021. The SA`AR 6-class corvettes had been christened earlier. This means that all four ships ordered have now been delivered to the Israeli Navy. Due to the pandemic, today's ceremony took place on a small scale. In his speech to the guests at the ceremony and to the crews of the new ships, Managing Director Dr Alexander Orellano emphasised the good professional und personal relationship with the Israel Navy.
Dr Alexander Orellano: "In the six years from the signing of the contract until today, we have developed a superior ship together. We have discussed a lot with each other, sometimes even argued. In the end, we, client and contractor, together built a better ship than originally planned." Vice Admiral Eliyahu Sharvit arrived from Israel for the naming and handover ceremony. The Israeli navy commander-in-chief is pleased with his new ships, as he expressed in his speech: "I thank you for your tremendous effort invested in this combined project to ensure its extraordinary success."
From the moment the Sa’ar 6 ship reached Israel’s shores, the Israeli Navy will have to face the complex challenge of making the ship fully operational. Over 90% of the defensive systems that will be on the new Sa’ar 6 ships are Israeli-made combat systems. Naval battle systems, including the MF-STAR (Magen Adir) radar, were installed on the Israel Navy’s Sa'ar 6 premier defense warship, and will provide a layer of defensive and offensive capabilities from air and sea. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is integrating offensive and defensive systems, to enhance the 'Sa'ar 6' corvette's capabilities and usher the Israeli Navy into a new technological era, under the guidance of Israel's Ministry of Defense (IMoD) and the IDF.
IAI, together with the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (part of IMoD) and the Israeli Navy, completed the first phase of installing the MF-STAR (Magen Adir) radars on the Israeli Navy’s ‘Sa’ar 6’ corvettes and will continue to integrate the BARAK MX Air Defense System (Ra’am Adir) on the vessels. The radars will serve to locate and classify air and surface targets and help to build an advanced and detailed maritime picture of the surveillance area. The MF-STAR radar system, one of the world's most advanced radar systems, will serve as the “brain,” integrated with all surveillance sensors on every one of the Israeli Navy's new warships. The radar system is also an important component of the BARAK MX Air Defense System (Ra’am Adir), and provides a layer of defense against advanced aerial and naval threats.
The MF-STAR radar systems are based on advanced technology including active electronic scanning array (AESA) developed by IAI's ELTA Systems Ltd. These systems reduce the target acquisition response-time, and provide advanced ability to accurately and simultaneously track a wide range of targets. The radar provides an optimal picture of maritime situation awareness and hemispheric protection to all accompanying forces. The radars are an integral component of defending air, space and territorial waters, including Israel’s strategic assets: the natural gas rigs, defending against rockets, enemy aircraft and more. Upon identifying a threat, the radar supplies all required data immediately to each control, defense and support systems on deck (e.g., firing of anti-aircraft missiles), enabling key decision-makers to respond to the threat in real-time. The MF-STAR radar includes four staring radar panels that provide 360-degree hemispherical coverage around the vessel.
The Barak MX Air & Missile Defense System developed by IAI's Systems, Missiles and Space group is one of the world's advanced operational air defense systems, used by IDF naval forces and the Indian Land Navy and Air Force. The Barak MX Air & Missile Defense System provides both wide-area and targeted defense capabilities to an array of threats, including: land, air and sea. The system aggregates several key cutting-edge systems: a digital radar, weapon control system, launchers, a range of interceptors for different ranges with advanced homing devices, data-link communication and system wide connectivity.
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