After F-35 Jets, Israeli Defense Forces Add Another Mighty Weapon To Its Arsenal

Israel is set to receive the delivery of four new Sa’ar 6 warships as part of its operations called ‘Campaign Between the Wars’, which also included acquiring advanced F-35 fighter jets for its air force. 

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The 2,000 ton vessels will be confronting Israel’s enemies across the Middle East. The German-made INS Magen will be received by Israel on 11 November, and they will sail from Kiel in Germany to be deployed to the defense of the Israeli economic exclusive zone and maritime strategic assets, as per the Israel Defense Forces.

Made by Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, the corvette ships will give Israel new firepower at sea and the ability to protect its emerging gas fields off the coast.

The main shift in Israel’s focus on maritime activity after the 1990s has come in the backdrop of its pipeline deal with Cyprus and Greece in the summer, and joining an Eastern Mediterranean gas forum with Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

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The primary threat in the region is from Turkey, which expressed equal interest in the natural resources in the region.

File:Three Sa'ar 5 Class Missile Corvettes Going For a Cruise.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Three Sa’ar 5 Class Missile Corvettes Going For a Cruise – Wikimedia Commons

The Sa’ar 6, with the ability to carry mid-size helicopters, such as the Seahawk, will defend offshore infrastructure — making up an area over twice the size of Israel’s land territory.

The decision made to acquire these ships was made in 2013. The new, powerful Seahawks will enable operations over long ranges and extended periods of time; hence the ships will be able to provide a comprehensive defensive envelope, the defense forces believe.

The protection of natural gas reserves off the coast is the primary aim as gas rigs are vulnerable strategic platforms and one missile strike could be catastrophic.

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“We want to deter enemies from even aiming at the rigs. It [the Sa’ar 6] has an enormous radar so it can be a standalone unit. Abilities and probability of protection increases, as it is connected to Iron Dome, David’s Sling and other air defense.

If it detects threats, it can transfer data to land networks to engage targets,” said the IDF, considering the ability of armies in the region capable of firing high-trajectory rockets.

The IDF naval commander quoted by Defence News said the INS Magen has been custom made for Israel’s operational needs. The advanced ships with stealth technology will consist of 99% of Israel’s own combat systems.

The battle systems such as C-Gem offboard active decoy by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Elbit Systems electronic warfare suite and IAI’s Barak missiles will be installed upon arrival.

While most of the ships will be deployed to protect the gas fields, one or two will be deployed to conduct other missions with the rest of Israel’s fleet, which consists of submarines, Sa’ar corvettes and missile boats.

The warships will be equipped with a sea-to-sea missile system from IAI, which was successfully tested by the Navy and the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development in September.

Seth J. Frantzman writes for The National Interest that Israel engaged in a “design spiral” to build these ships in order to incorporate the massive radar, which meant making it flexible and with a low radar cross-section.

“In the end, I will also have a 76mm cannon as its main gun, along with the missiles it carries. Together the firepower and defenses will be a gamechanger off the coast of Tel Aviv and extending far into the sea,” he says.