Israel’s future submarines seen as key development towards regional naval ascension

JERUSALEM (JNS) – The January 20 announcement by the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of the acquisition of three new advanced submarines for the Israeli Navy marks a key milestone in the evolution of the Israeli fleet, which will consist of six submarines. .

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In a reality where Israel’s adversaries are armed with missiles that can strike any land point in the state, the strategic value of Israel’s submarine long arm is rising, all the more so in light expected advanced capabilities that the new Dakar-class submarines are expected to carry on board.

The class of submarines are named after INS Dakar, an Israeli diesel-electric submarine that sank in 1968 in the Mediterranean on its way from Britain to the port of Haifa after being purchased from the UK .

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz noted that the new ships will “enhance the capabilities of the Israeli Navy and contribute to Israel’s security superiority in the region” – alluding to their multiple capabilities, which will include the ability to remain submerged for longer periods, gather intelligence off enemy coasts, and strike targets deep in enemy territory or at sea.

The 3 billion euro ($3.4 billion) deal will see the arrival of the first Dakar-class submarine in nine years, as well as the construction of a submarine simulator in Israel and the supply of spare parts. The German government will subsidize part of the deal through a “one-time grant”, the Ministry of Defense said, in accordance with an agreement signed between the countries in 2017.

The Department of Defense declined to comment on a report by the business daily The Marker published in recent days, according to which Thyssenkrupp had raised the price of the purchase considerably, from 1.8 billion (nearly 2.1 billion dollars) to 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion). The report says Israel will likely pay 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) of the total price (with Germany subsidizing the rest).

Alongside the deal, the two sides signed an industrial and strategic cooperation agreement that will see Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology invest 850 million euros ($973 million) in Israeli industries, including including defense companies.

“The most expensive military platform in the IDF inventory”

Past experience has shown that a lot of time passes from the stage of formulating specifications for new submarines to the production stage.

According to Professor Rear Adm. (Res.) Shaul Chorev, director of the Haifa Research Center for Maritime and Political Strategy at the University of Haifa and former commander of the Israeli Navy’s submarine flotilla, it took no less than 17 years to 1980 specifications. First-generation German-made Dolphin submarines will be transformed into final ships.

From now on, these three ships from the late 1990s will replace the Dakar series. They will join three next-generation Dolphin submarines — two of which, INS Rahav and INS Tanin, are already in the possession of the Israeli Navy — and the third, INS Dragon, which is reportedly expected at the submarine terminal. from the Haifa base next year. These vessels are equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems that generate electricity from hydrogen and water.

These diesel-powered submarines can thus remain submerged longer and their silent engines allow them to effectively evade detection by enemy sonars.

AIP submarines are equipped with technology that dates back to the early 1990s, so Dakar submarines will require much newer technological capabilities. This will likely involve, among other things, new engine designs, generators, and electronic sensor systems rather than the older periscopes.

Past disputes over the correct size of the submarine fleet that serves Israel’s needs have been a common feature between Israeli governments and the Israel Defense Forces.

It was former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who overruled the IDF’s preference for five ships in the past, opting for six instead, and his decision received the approval of an official ministerial procurement committee.

It seems Netanyahu’s call was the right one to make in light of the dazzling contribution that each of these platforms – the most expensive military platform in the IDF’s inventory, more expensive than fighter jets – contributes to state security.

“Five is the minimum; six is ​​the optimum [number]. Six submarines will give us a lot of flexibility, but we can get by with five,” Colonel L., then head of the Israeli Navy’s submarine department, told Maariv in 2018.

Each submarine is capable of not only secretly traveling to enemy states, gathering intelligence and striking targets with high precision, but the platform also serves, according to international media, as a fundamental pillar of the posture of nuclear deterrence and Israel’s second-strike capability.

In 2019, Chorev warned in an interview with JNS that “the State of Israel is losing strategic depth”. He noted that “today the country is threatened by missiles from all directions. Like [Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah said they can hit targets from northern Israel to the Dimona nuclear core. They know all of Israel’s strategic targets.

It is for this reason, he concluded, that it is vital to identify the sea as the source of additional Israeli strategic depth.

Submarines are evolving into a modern elite force due to their undersea stealth movements, and modern naval powers around the world are increasingly coming to regard submarines as the go-to platforms for missions that were more traditionally associated with surface ships in the past.

The Dakar series seems to be the last word in Israel’s submarine arms race.

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