International and Professional Press about the new Dolphin Submarines
Israel seeks more submarines for strategic depth
Friday, September 10th, 2004
TEL AVIV: For years they cruised the shores of Tripoli, silent and unseen in the deep, radars monitoring inland munitions plants and torpedo tubes armed for combat.
And though Israel’s submariners are breathing easier since Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to stop developing weapons of mass-destruction this month, Israeli top brass predict an even greater role for the fleet in a changing Middle East.
Above all is the idea that Israel, widely believed to have nuclear weapons, would use the sea for striking back in the event – however unlikely – that bases on land are overrun in a war.
Though Iran says it has no hostile designs, Tehran’s atomic programme heads the list of Israeli fears. Navy chief Admiral Yedidiya Ya’ari said submarines were a crucial deterrent.
“The ultimate role of the submarine is to linger for extended periods, almost anywhere it needs to be, undetected,” he told Reuters, declining to comment on foreign analysts’ assessments that the vessels carry nuclear-tipped missiles.
“It has a range of functions including hitting the enemy from where he least expects it. You can understand that as you wish,” he said.
Iranian and Syrian officials, who have described Israel’s submarine fleet as an offensive non-conventional capability that threatens regional stability, were not available for comment.
Expansion plans: Three Dolphin-class submarines are the vanguard of a navy that otherwise acts primarily as Israel’s coastguard, cutting off would-be infiltrators from Lebanon and Palestinian-run Gaza.
According to security sources, the German-made Dolphins go as far as North Africa and the Gulf to monitor enemy capabilities. Analysts believe they carry nuclear missiles for any “second-strike” retaliation.
The Israeli navy is unmatched by any Middle East foe’s — a fact brought home in 2001 when frogmen seized a Gaza-bound ship carrying arms in the Red Sea and towed it to Eilat instead.
Yet the navy wants an unspecified number of new submarines — each costing as much as $400 million — over the next decade, and also plans to upgrade three World War Two-era Vickers craft. .
Helping Ya’ari swim against the current of defence budget cuts has been the hawkish head of Israel’s parliamentary defence committee, Yuval Shteinitz.
“The threat is not from other navies, but from stand-off weapons on our borders,” Shteinitz said, referring to rockets used by Palestinian militants and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas, as well as Syrian and Iranian long-range missile programmes.
He outlines a doomsday scenario in which about a dozen ground targets in Israel — air bases and what foreign experts believe are ballistic launch pads — are paralysed by missile salvoes or sabotage, leaving the country virtually defenceless. .
As alarmist as such outlooks seem to many analysts given Israeli military might, few doubt the seriousness of intent in a Jewish state still facing neighbours sworn to its destruction.
“With their lack of strategic depth, the Israelis will always be very much concerned with self-defence and taking the fight to the enemy. Naval forces are an important means to this end,” said Stephen Saunders, editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships.
Shrinking borders?: Part of the navy’s reasoning for expanding the submarine fleet is the possible relinquishing of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as foreseen under a US-led peace “road map” for Palestinian independence.
That might leave Israel just 16 km (10 miles) at its narrowest and most populous point.
“According to the road map, which we accepted, the territory under our control will shrink,” said Ya’ari. “A naval force is outside this threat area, making it a crucial back-up for national security.”
Ya’ari also sees a regional role for Israeli cooperation with Western navies to thwart Islamic militancy in its heartland. Stopping traffickers in weapons of mass destruction is central to the US-led “war on terror”.
But some are sceptical of a big part for Israel’s navy given regional sensibilities and the need of the United States to be sensitive to the concerns of Arab governments.
“A ring of steel around the Middle East sounds like a politically difficult thing to do, not least because the core issue as far as terrorism is concerned is the Israeli-Arab conflict,” said Saunders.
Fallout from Israel’s crackdowns on the Palestinians may have cost it dearly on the naval front already.
Last month, a German magazine said the country, having long whittled down defence support for Israel, had decided not to sell it any more Dolphins. Focus magazine cited Berlin’s concerns that the submarines would be armed with nuclear weapons, further destabilising the region.
German and Israeli government officials declined comment. Ya’ari said he knew of no such procurement request. —Reuters
SUNDAY REPORT-October 12, 2003
|Three 1,925 ton Type 800 Dolphin class submarines have been built in German shipyards for the Israel Navy. Modern submarines with the most advanced sailing and combat systems in the world, they combine extensive sophistication with very easy operation. The purpose of these submarines is to enable the Israel Navy to meet all the tasks faced in the Mediterranean Sea in the 21st century. The submarines cost $320 million each, and are twice as big as the aging Gal-class submarines that the Israeli navy has relied on to date. It is generally agreed that these submarines are outfitted with six 533-millimeter torpedo tubes suitable for the 21-inch torpedoes that are normally used on most submarines, including those of the United States. Some reports suggest that the submarines have a total of ten torpedo tubes — six 533-millimeter and four 650-millimeter. Uniquely, the Soviet navy deployed the Type 65 heavy-weight torpedo using a 650-millimeter tube. The four larger 25.5 inch diameter torpedo tubes could be used to launch a long-range nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM). According to some reports the submarines may be capable of carrying nuclear-armed Popeye Turbo cruise missiles, with a goal of deterring an enemy from trying to take out its nuclear weapons with a surprise attack. Under a system of rotation, two of the vessels would remain at sea: one in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, the other in the Mediterranean. A third would remain on standby.
The project initially was structured to include an industrial team consisting of HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke, lead by Ingalls Shipbuilding. The project, under which the boats would be built in the United States by Ingalls using US FMS funds, was cancelled in 1990. The crews of the submarines started training in 1994, and participated in the building process as well as in the acceptance procedures for weapon systems. Germany donated two of these submarines to Israel, which were delivered in 1997. Israel bought a third Dolphin submarine from Germany. The project to build the Israeli Navy’s third submarine, named “Tekumah ,” was launched in Germany on 09 July 1998 with the participation of Defense Ministry Director General Ilan Biran and other naval officers. Tekumah [T’kuma] is the Hebrew word for “revival.” The third submarine arrived in Israel during mid-1999.
A major role for hunter, killer and patrol submarines is the destruction of enemy submarines and shipping. In order to achieve this, the submarine must load, store and launch a range of stores. The submarine must also detect its target while attempting to remain covert. The Israel Navy has three Gal submarines. They were built in the 1970s at the Vickers shipyard in Britain, based on German blueprints. The Gal submarines are an important part of the main combat force of the Israel Navy.
Advances in electric drive and power conditioning were introduced into the German Type 212. This German submarine has low and balanced signatures including acoustic signatures, longer submerged mission capability and a modern combat system with sophisticated sensors and state of the art torpedoes. The technologies inherent in this design include a fuel cell air independent propulsion (AIP) system with a back up single diesel generator, highly modular arrangements of critical areas and the frame carrying the diesel generator and auxiliary equipment such as the hydraulic pumps, compressors, etc.- is enclosed in a sound absorbent capsule and isolated from the pressure hull. The AIP system utilized is more commonly called ‘MESMA’. Translated it means Autonomous Submarine Energy Module and was developed for submarines.
Israel Has Sub-Based Atomic Arms Capability
By Walter Pincus
Israel to get subs with nuclear ability
|Ha’aretz Daily Newspaper Tuesday, June 9, 1998
Swimming with the Dolphins
Israel’s new Dolphin submarines, built in Germany, will add a new dimension to the nuclear arms race in the Middle East
|German subs for Israel Cairo, 9 – 15 July 1998– Egyptian strategy experts have warned that Israeli submarines could pose a great threat to the security of its Arab neighbours. On 1 July, the Washington Times carried a story that said Israel plans to buy three large Dolphin-class submarines from Germany capable of carrying nuclear-armed cruise missiles. The three subs are among the most technically advanced of their kind in the world, the American paper said. Israel’s intention, the Times added, is to deter any enemy from trying to take out its nuclear weapons with a surprise attack. The Times quoted Israeli political and intelligence sources as saying that without the submarines, the armed forces fear their nuclear arsenal is vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike by Iran or any other Middle East nation that may acquire nuclear weapons. But Maj. Gen. (retr’d) Abdel-Rahman El-Hawwari, an Egyptian strategy expert, said the submarines would pose a great threat to the region, “because they can approach any coastline, undetected by radar or other early warning systems, and unleash their nuclear weapons.” He added, “This would be an additional burden for Arab military commanders who already have to keep ground, and even mobile, missiles under close watch. The entry of submarines into the arena of conflict makes it very difficult to predict the timing of the anticipated blow.” Another strategy expert, Maj. Gen. (retr’d) Kamal Shedid also expressed the same fears, saying that such submarines could deliver a surprise strike with conventional or nuclear weapons. According to Hawwari, the submarines are capable of directing a second nuclear blow, without being detected. “It is common knowledge that you can make the first nuclear strike by dropping a bomb or firing a missile from a warplane,” he said. “But in order to deliver a second, successful and effective strike, or launch a nuclear counter-strike, a submarine, whose location is unknown to the enemy, is needed.” Those fears notwithstanding, Hawwari was surprised that news of Israel’s plans had resurfaced. “Perhaps the intention is to sow fear in the hearts of Israel’s neighbours,” he said. “Under any circumstances, we should not be dragged into talking about submarines, and forget the basic issue, which is Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Our main concern is that Israel is the only power in the region that possesses nuclear weapons… We must find the means of either making the Middle East free from nuclear weapons or achieving a balance with Israel’s nuclear capability.” So, when might Israel use, or threaten to use, its nuclear capability? Hawwari lists several scenarios: to deter Arab countries from resorting to the military option to liberate the Occupied Territories or using ballistic surface-to-surface missiles against territory at the heart of the country; to deter an Islamic state, such as Pakistan, from helping Arab states to launch their own nuclear programmes; or to put pressure on the United States to ensure that Israel’s demands are met. According to Shedid, Israel is acquiring the submarines in order to be able to hit vital Arab targets, should any of its Arab neighbours think of a surprise strike against the Dimona nuclear reactor or other targets inside Israel. Moreover, he added, Israel can use the submarines to protect its airspace against missile attacks “because they are less expensive than the permanent deployment of an air umbrella. Submarines provide protection and early warning, but it all depends on how many submarines you have.” According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the first submarine is currently undergoing operational tests in the North Sea between Germany and Britain and is expected to be operational by early next year. Haaretz reported on 8 June that Israeli military planners want to mount nuclear-armed cruise missiles on the new submarines.|
AUGUST 24, 1999 International Defence Review.
First Dolphins move in on Israeli navy
The first of three German-built Dolphin-class submarines for the Israel Defense Force Navy (IDF/N) arrived in Haifa at the end of July. The 1,900-ton boat, INS Dolphin, departed Germany on 30 June with an Israeli crew including several security officers. One day before this, the IDF/N took over the second-of-class boat, INS Leviathan, from Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel.
Sources close to the project told IDR that the IDF/N is planning to equip the Dolphins with a nuclear land-attack capability shortly after arrival in Haifa, by modifying US-supplied SubHarpoon anti-ship missiles (range: 130km) with an indigenously-developed nuclear warhead and guidance kit.
Each Dolphin would be able to carry five SubHarpoon weapons, in addition to a load-out of 16 heavyweight torpedoes (German-supplied STN Atlas Elektronik DM2A4 Seehechts and an unspecified US-built torpedo, possibly the service’s existing NT-37Es that have been used onboard the 1970s-vintage, 600-ton Gal-class submarines).
Recent photos of INS Leviathan on the shiplift at HDW confirm for the first time that the boat is equipped with the Elbit Systems TIMNEX II combined electronic support measures/ electronic intelligence (ESM/ ELINT) system. This equipment is claimed to provide high omnidirectional detection capability throughout the 218GHz frequency range; this can be extended to 140GHz.
For self-defense and tactical missions it provides “100% probability of intercept instantaneous direction finder (IDF) and instantaneous frequency measurement (IFM) capability, with automatic operation and threat analysis”, Elbit says.
For ELINT missions, TIMNEX II offers “very accurate parameter measurement, including frequency and angular accuracies and high sensitivity in both IFM and IDF channels; fine signal analysis; automatic signal identification and library correlation; as well as data logging and recording for off-line analysis”.
Up to 250 active emitters can be processed in real-time, and the ESM/ELINT functionality is completely integrated within the Dolphins’ STN Atlas ISUS 90-1 combat management system.
Another photo of Leviathan (left) clearly shows the seven-bladed, low acoustic noise propeller of the submarine, its X-form rudder planes with horizontal stabilizers.
Before delivery, the boats performed deep diving tests in Norway and systems tests in the Baltic with co-operation from the German Navy. INS Leviathan is due to sail for Israel in October this year, while the delivery of the third boat, INS Tekuma, is to take place in mid-2000. This unit has been outfitted at Thyssen Nordseewerke, HDW’s partner in the project and started its HDW-run sea trials on 21 July this year
Israel Moves – Quickly – To Beef Up Its Submarine Force
26 October 2000
Citing “security reasons”, the Israeli government has decided to speed up the shipment of a new submarine from Germany. Israel reportedly has plans to equip the submarine to attack land-based targets with nuclear weapons. Israel does not appear to have immediate naval security concerns because of its Arab neighbors. The delivery of the submarine most likely is intended to complete a nuclear land-attack capability to deter the current crisis from descending into region-wide war – or allow Israel to fight one, if necessary.
The Tekuma, the last of three new, German-built, Dolphin-class submarines, has been rushed from Germany to Israel for “security reasons,” an army spokesman said on military radio Oct. 24. The craft has been in Germany while the crew underwent training.
The Israeli military appears to be completing the development of a second-strike nuclear land-attack capability. Fighting between Palestinians and Israelis is likely to go on for months. And if tension in the Middle East descends into regional war, damaging Israel’s land-based nuclear weapons, the Israeli navy can still field a surviving submarine-based force capable of launching an attack.
Despite the progress that has been made, the regional crisis has not yet ended. Although the key regional actor, Egypt, has made a strategic choice for peace, anti-Israeli sentiment continues to build, inflamed by continued violence in the Palestinian territories. In a weakened state, Israel’s prime minister is increasingly desperate and his government appears, as a result, to have hastened delivery of the new submarine.
Tekuma is the last of three Dolphin-class submarines, built and largely subsidized by Germany expressly for deployment by the Israeli navy in Mediterranean waters. The German decision to underwrite the Israeli Dolphin program stems from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when Iraq struck Israel with Scuds, equipped with warheads at least partially developed by German firms. Subsequently, Helmut Kohl, the chancellor at the time, offered military assistance, including construction of two of the three Dolphin submarines. The Germans helped pay for the first two; Israel financed the Tekuma.
The diesel-powered Dolphins will reportedly replace Israel’s three aging German submarines, which entered service in 1977. The 187-foot Tekuma weighs 1,700 tons and can accommodate a crew of 35 for more than one month of continuous operations. The Dolphin class is designed for interdiction, surveillance and special-forces operations and is designed to travel at maximum speeds of 20 knots with a cruising range of 4,500 nautical miles. The vessel has 10 torpedo tubes and is capable of launching Harpoon missiles.
While the vessel is designed for a standard attack role, Israel has comparatively little to fear from the Egyptian or Syrian navies. The Egyptian navy is primarily focused on coastal defense and its submarine fleet only consists of four old Romeo class patrol submarines. The last significant improvement of its navy was in 1996; the four subs underwent a $133 million upgrade to acquire the capability to fire anti-ship missiles and NT37 wire-guided torpedoes. The Syrian navy is in worse shape; its three Romeo class submarines are non-operational, according to London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). At least one reportedly sank pier-side in the mid-1990s.
Israel’s eagerness to deploy the submarine probably is intended as a deterrent to regional war. Jane’s International Defense Review (IDR) reported in September 1999 that sources close to the German construction project said Israel was planning to equip the Dolphins with a nuclear land-attack capability shortly after the submarine’s arrival. This was to be done by modifying U.S.-supplied Sub-Harpoon missiles with an indigenously developed nuclear warhead and guidance kit. Each Dolphin would reportedly be able to carry five modified Sub-Harpoons, with a range of 80 miles, as well as 16 torpedoes.
As well, Israel clearly has an interest in land-attack missiles. In January, Israel asked the United States to sell it 50 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles to enhance its deep-strike capabilities under its wide-ranging strategic defense program, according to Jane’s Missiles and Rockets. It was not clear whether Israel was seeking air- or sea-launched variants, but the mission of the Israeli navy – traditionally coastal defense and maritime supply route protection – is expanding to include a stronger deterrent and survivable nuclear-strike capability.
Washington rejected Israel’s request in March, prompting concern that Israel may develop its own indigenous long-range cruise missile. Shortly after the rejection, an Israeli official told Defense News, “History has taught us that we cannot wait indefinitely for Washington to satisfy our military requirements. If this weapon system is denied to us, we will have little choice but to activate our own defense industry in pursuit of this needed capability.”
Indeed, Israel may have already developed cruise missiles on its own. The London Sunday Times reported June 18 that Israel had test-fired domestic-produced cruise missiles from its newly acquired Dolphin-class submarine off Sri Lanka in May. And the U.S. National Air Intelligence Center warned the U.S. Congress in July 1998 that Israel was developing a cruise missile – believed to be the Rafael-produced Popeye Turbo missile – with a range of 215 miles that was expected to be operational by 2002. Although the Popeye Turbo is promoted as an air-launched weapon, it may be adapted for submarine launch.
If Israel has managed to create its own submarine-launched cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, it would mark a major step in its nuclear capability and throw the balance of power further in Israel’s favor.
Israel is clearly concerned that the current crisis still has potential to pull in surrounding Arab nations and blow up into a regional war. Israeli military doctrine has always focused on immediate threats from its Arab neighbors, strong deterrence and a first-strike capability. Israel may be hoping its increased readiness will further deter Arab nations from involving themselves in a larger war.
|June 18 2000 MIDDLE EAST
Israel makes nuclear waves with submarine missile test Uzi Mahnaimi and Matthew Campbell JUST as President Bill Clinton is engaged in a bitter public debate about how best to defend America from missile attacks launched by “rogue” countries such as Iran, Israel’s intensely secretive military preparations against the same threat have gone a stage further. Israeli defence sources claim the country has secretly carried out its first test launches from submarines of cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The launches last month from German-built vessels in the Indian Ocean were designed to simulate swift retaliation against a pre-emptive nuclear attack from Iran. While Israel’s generals may be jubilant at the breakthrough – the missile is said to have hit a target more than 900 miles away – the development raises the worrying prospect of an escalation in the Middle East’s nuclear arms race just as peace talks have been thrown into uncertainty after the death of President Hafez al-Assad of Syria. According to Israeli sources, the three Dolphin-class submarines will give Israel a crucial third pillar of nuclear defence to complement the country’s already much-vaunted land and air ramparts. While the Israelis’ intention of using the German submarines as roving nuclear launch platforms had long been suspected, few experts had expected them to develop the capability to fire submarine-based cruise missiles so soon. Planning for a submarine-launched nuclear deterrent was accelerated after reports in the early 1990s by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, that Iran would be capable of staging a nuclear missile attack against Israel by 2000. The latest Israeli estimate has put that threat back by two years. But uncertainty over Iran’s level of nuclear capability has not slowed Israel’s drive to bolster its defences. The Dolphin-class vessels are among the most technically advanced of their kind in the world. They are twice as big as the 23-year-old Gal-class submarines that the Israeli navy has relied on to date. Israel ordered the submarines from Germany when it could not find an American shipyard to produce the diesel and electric-powered vessels it needed, according to Israeli sources. In a sign of the sensitivity of the project, elite crews have been assembled to man them: the 35 officers and men aboard each vessel have been nicknamed “force 700” because of the average 700 points they scored in psychological tests devised by the Israelis. The scores are equivalent to an IQ of 130-140. Another five specially selected officers solely responsible for the warheads will be added to each vessel once the missiles are operational. America’s supply of military technology to Israel is a sensitive political issue. Last week there were calls in Washington for a cut in aid to Israel unless it cancelled the sale to China of a spy plane built with American-supplied technology. The Pentagon fears it could be used against American pilots. Since achieving nuclear capability in 1966, Israel has kept a hawkish eye on its neighbours’ fumbling steps towards acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Its fears were dramatically illustrated in 1981 when Menachem Begin, then prime minister, sent eight F-16 jet fighters to destroy a nuclear reactor in Iraq in an episode condemned around the world as reckless military adventurism. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona nuclear reactor who revealed secrets of Israel’s programme to The Sunday Times, was kidnapped by Mossad and jailed. He remains incarcerated. A decade later, Israeli fears appear to have proved well-founded. Washington routinely cites Iraqi and Iranian nuclear ambitions as justification for America’s multi-billion-dollar missile defence system, whose deployment may be ordered by President Bill Clinton this year. America will not look kindly on Israel’s development of a remarkable new military capability at such a delicate stage in the peace process. “This is certain to irritate the Clinton administration,” said a defence analyst in Washington. “It makes it that much harder to get non-proliferation to stick in the Middle East.” Despite a good personal relationship between Clinton and Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, relations between the two countries have soured in recent weeks. On top of reports of the extraordinary extent of Israeli espionage in Washington, Israel’s proposed sale of the spy plane to China has outraged American congressmen. Under a contract with the Chinese, Israel Aircraft Industries has installed a Phalcon airborne early-warning system in a Russian-made Ilyushin. China has an option for three more such planes. American officials say they fear they will pose a threat to Taiwan – as much of an American ally as Israel – and upset the military balance. Relations have been strained further by other Israeli missile tests conducted without advance warning to the Pentagon. Last month the American navy criticised Israel for test-launching a Jericho ballistic missile off its coast in April when an American warship in the vicinity momentarily thought it was under attack. Pentagon officials said the missile landed about 40 miles from the warship. “That’s pretty close for a missile that’s not the most accurate,” said one official, adding that this was the third time in two years that Israel had conducted “nonotice” missile tests near an American warship. Fears of new arms race as Israel tests cruise missiles Uzi Mahnaimi and Peter Conradi ISRAEL has test-fired cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, fuelling fears of an escalation in the Middle East arms race. Israeli defence sources revealed that the tests, involving two German-built Dolphin-class submarines, took place last month off Sri Lanka. The Israeli-made missiles, which were equipped with conventional warheads, hit targets at sea at a range of about 930 miles, they said. Israel is the third country – after America and Russia – to be able to fire nuclear cruise missiles from submarines. The tests will alarm Israel’s neighbours and embarrass the German government. It paid for the £200m submarines to compensate for Iraq’s use of German-made weapons against Israel during the Gulf war. A third submarine is expected to be operational within weeks. Despite moves towards Middle East peace, Israel remains concerned about its vulnerability to attack, particularly from Iran. Israeli intelligence believes Tehran will develop nuclear weapons within two years. Israel has never acknowledged its nuclear programme, revealed by The Sunday Times in 1986. However, its military planners are believed to have produced between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons. Sources said these included several 200kg warheads – each containing 6kg of plutonium – that could be mounted on cruise missiles. Israel already has land and air-based nuclear weapons. It now plans to equip each of the three submarines, which have the advantage of being almost impossible to detect, with four cruise missiles. Their ability to strike back after a non-conventional attack on Israel makes them a formidable deterrent. Under a system of rotation, two of the vessels will remain at sea: one in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, the other in the Mediterranean. A third would remain on standby. The missiles could be fired only after approval by four people: the prime minister, defence minister, chief of staff of the Israeli army and the commander of the navy. The 1,720-ton diesel-electric submarines, which are among the most technically advanced of their kind in the world, can remain at sea for up to 30 days.
|German-built submarine ushers in new era for Israeli navy
By MARK LAVIE Associated Press 7/27/99
ABOARD THE HANIT MISSILE BOAT (AP) – Bursting nose first from the water like its namesake, Israel’s new Dolphin submarine surfaced for the first time in its home waters today. The Dolphin is the first of three German-built diesel-powered submarines to be delivered to Israel. The squat, cigar-shaped vessel is aimed at helping transform Israel’s aging underwater fleet into a modern attack-and-deter force. With a crew of 35, the Dolphin has enough range to sneak undetected into ports as far away as the Persian Gulf, send frogmen to plant mines and destroy ships. The three submarines carry sub-Harpoon sea-to-sea missiles. Foreign experts say they can be replaced by small cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads. Analyst Yiftah Shapir of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University said he believes Israel will be able to fashion a nuclear warhead small enough to fit the Dolphin. If Israel were attacked with nuclear weapons, missiles aboard the Dolphin would be unharmed and ready for retaliation, according to foreign weapons experts. With Iran and Iraq trying to acquire nuclear weapons, Israel saw the need for a second-strike capability, the experts said. The Israeli military and the government don’t talk about the subject. The mood was festive today as the Israeli navy greeted the Dolphin about 12 miles off the northern port of Haifa. Under clear skies and on calm seas, six gray Israeli missile boats circled the new submarine, sending greetings by loudspeaker to its crew as four F-16 warplanes flew overhead in formation. Reflecting friendly interservice rivalry, an officer on the Hanit missile boat remarked that it was one of the few times the air force has saluted the navy. “It’s a great feeling, and emotional, too,” said Capt. Yuval, the commander of the submarine flotilla that sailed with the Dolphin from Germany to Haifa Bay. He was plucked from the two-tone green vessel to talk to reporters aboard the Hanit. Yuval, whose last name cannot be used under Israeli military regulations, said the Dolphin gives Israel “a lot of confidence and ability under the water” that it did not have before. Israel contracted with Germany to have two Dolphin-class submarines built to Israeli specifications in 1989. In 1990, it canceled the project because of its high cost _ $300 million per submarine. Israel decided to renew the project after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at the Jewish state. Germany offered to pay for two submarines. The Israeli military said today that one factor in the German decision was the role of German companies in developing Iraq’s chemical warheads. “As a result, the German government offered humanitarian and military support,” the military said in a statement. In 1994, a third submarine was added, with Israel and Germany splitting the cost. The second submarine is to be delivered in October and the third in 2000.
|Israel’s covert nuclear program
By Eric Margolis July 2, 2000 LONDON – In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at Israel’s Dimona reactor center, revealed to the `Sunday Times’ of London that Israel had secretly developed 100-200 nuclear warheads, using French and American-supplied technology. Vanunu was lured to Rome in a classic `honey trap’ and kidnapped by Israeli agents. He was convicted of treason and has been held in solitary confinement for the past 14 years. Earlier this month, the `Sunday Times’ broke a second major story about Israel’s covert nuclear programs. According to leaked information supplied to the `Times,’ Israel used a newly acquired Dolphin-class submarine to test a hitherto secret cruise missile designed to carry a nuclear warhead. The cruise missile is said to have hit a target 900 miles from its launch point off the coast of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, and may have a maximum range of 1,200 mile. Israel has become increasingly involved in Sri Lanka’s civil war, supplying the embattled Colombo government with weapons, munitions, and military advisors to combat Tamil Tigers rebels. The state-of-the-art, 1750-ton Dolphin diesel subs were supplied to Israel by Germany as near freebie `guilt payments’ because Iraq used some German-made components in its military programs during the Gulf War. Revelations that Israel is using the $440 million each subs as nuclear launch platforms has deeply embarrassed Germany’s ardently anti-nuclear socialist government. This also raises the fascinating question of how and where the Dolphins were modified to accept missiles. The cruise missile used by the Israelis is believed too large to be fired from the Dolphin’s 21-inch torpedo tubes. The original 1990 design called for lengthening the hull to accommodate a `wet and dry’ compartment for frogmen – unusual in an attack sub- and for `extra torpedo storage.’ This was clearly the cover for what became a missile compartment of four vertical launch tubes. If true, this suggests full German collaboration in Israel’s covert nuclear program – in spite of Berlin’s anguished denials. The United States was originally to have supplied the subs to Israel, but claimed to lack the capability to build modern, conventional powered boats, and bucked the job to German yards, who have a century of experience in building U-boats. A cynic might suspect the US pressured Germany into supplying Israel’s latest nuclear weapons platforms to escape an inevitable firestorm of protest by its Arab oil clients. Israel now has a complete nuclear triad: air-delivered bombs; intermediate-range Jericho missiles; and now the sea-launched cruise missile. This important development means Israel has a counter-force nuclear capability that can ride out any enemy nuclear attack and riposte with a devastating strike from the sea. Israel will reportedly base one Dolphin in the Mediterranean, the second in the Red Sea, and the third in port for maintenance. The Dolphin `roving launch platforms’ also give Israel the ability to strike almost anywhere on the globe, and particularly against Iran and Pakistan, which Israel singles out as `long-range’ enemies. Israel’s Mossad long claimed Iran would deploy nuclear weapons by 2000. When proven wrong, Mossad now claims the date is 2002. US intelligence estimates Tehran will not even have a prototype weapon before 2010, and no deliverable warhead until 2012-13 – if ever. Iran denies developing nuclear weapons. Revelations of Israel’s new cruise missile have provoked a storm of outrage in the rest of the Mideast at an exceptionally delicate time when regional peace negotiations hang in the balance. One might suspect Israel’s missile test may have been leaked to scupper Arab-Israeli peace talks. Some defense analysts maintain Israel’s sea-launched missiles are actually a stabilizing factor that eliminated the threat of a decapitating nuclear attack. Israel’s Jericho missile base at Kfar Zachariah near Tel Aviv lacks hardened silos and is thus vulnerable to a surprise nuclear attack. The same applies to airbases where nuclear bombs are stored for Israel’s US-supplied F-15E’s. Inadequately protected nuclear forces lead to a `use or loose’ mentality in time of crisis. But the latest revelations about Israel’s nuclear arsenal – now the world’s fourth or fifth most powerful – will likely spur the Arab states and Iran to intensify efforts to acquire a nuclear counter-force, and to develop `poor man’s’ weapons of mass destruction to match Israel’s extensive nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal. This bombshell also comes as Israel faces growing pressure in the UN over its nuclear weapons. Israel is the only Mideast nation that refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT). Egypt insists Israel must sign NPT as part of a comprehensive Mideast peace. Cairo is pressing for a Mideast nuclear-free zone and demands Israel allow inspection of its nuclear complex at Dimona. Egypt claims Israel’s 40-year old, French-supplied reactor there is unsafe and a hazard – a sort of Mideast Chernobyl. The United States, in an unusual volte face, is quietly backing Egypt’s position. Washington is doubtlessly expressing its growing displeasure with Israel over recent sales of high-tech Israeli arms and technology to China, much of them American origin, and over Israeli espionage against the United States. The first battery of Israel’s `Arrow’ anti-missile system just went operational; THEL, a new laser anti-tactical missile system, follows soon. Now, sea-launched cruise missiles. What next? An Israeli landing on Mars? Copyright: E. Margolis, July 2000
|Israel’s new sub fleet upsets Arab neighbors
Special to World Tribune.com MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE Tuesday, August 22, 2000 CAIRO — Arab officials are quietly expressing concern over Israel’s new fleet of diesel submarines. Arab officials and defense analysts said Israel’s fleet of three Dolphin-class submarines will bolster the strategic deterrence of the Jewish state. They also said the fleet will enable Israel to launch long-range attacks against such targets as Iran, Iraq and Libya. The officials said the United States has helped Israel in testing the submarines, including persuading Spain to allow the vessels to travel through its territorial waters on the way to a secret test in the Indian Ocean. Spain wanted assurances that the submarines did not contain nuclear missiles. Over the last few weeks, Arab defense sources have provided details of the Israeli Dolphin fleet, manufactured in Germany. Two of the submarines have already arrived and a third is expected by October. The sources said the submarines contain 24 cruise missiles, which can be tipped with a nuclear warhead. They said the vessels will be able to strike at targets 1,500 kilometers from Israel. “Each of the nuclear warheads will have a destructive power greater than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima [Japan in 1945],” the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat said. The newspaper said the submarines — weighing at 1,720 tons — will provide Israel with naval nuclear capability that will complement the country’s air and ground capability. It said Israel successfully tested a cruise missile in the Indian Ocean after Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy held talks in Madrid and Washington regarding the Dolphin’s capability. In a related development, after 31 years, Israel will try to raise the Dakar submarine from the floor of the Mediterranean. The Dakar submarine sank without a trace in the Mediterranean between Britain and Israel. In May 1999, investigators from the Maryland-based Nauticus Corp. spotted the Dakar lying on the ocean floor 500 kilometers from Israeli shores. In September, the Nauticus team will try to raise portions of the Dakar, a 400-ton British submarine. The team will try to discover the cause of the accident. Tuesday, August 22, 2000
|Israel Acquires First Nuclear-Capable Sub
Israel’s new submarine arriving in port The arrival at Haifa Naval Base last month of the Dolphin, the first of Israel’s three new German-built submarines, is being heralded as the dawn of a new era for the Israeli navy. “The Dolphin is the first of three submarines,” said Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the arrival ceremony. “Afterwards will come Levyatan and the Tekuma, and they will change the entire face of the navy and the long arm of Israel.” Israel Defense Force (IDF) chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, called the Dolphin the “submarine of the millennium.”1 The Dolphin and its two sisters ships (due to arrive over the next year) were constructed in Germany by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) and Thyssen Nordseewerke (TNSW) and will replace three 23-year old Gal-class submarines currently in use by the Israeli navy. The new ships are said to be among the most advanced diesal-electric submarines in the world. The 1,550-ton submarines have a top speed of 20 knots and can dive to a maximum depth of only 200 meters, but are extremely quiet and maneuverable. They have a maximum range of 3,000 miles, allowing them to move undetected into areas as far away as the Persian Gulf. Moreover, each sub and its 35-member crew can stay underwater for up to a month without resupply. They are armed with advanced Harpoon sea-to-sea missiles. Defense analysts consider the Israeli subs to be far superior to those in Arab navies.
Far and away the most important feature of the new subs, however, is that they can be outfitted to launch small cruise missiles carrying nuclear weapons. This would give Israel a second-strike capability–if the country was attacked with nuclear weapons, cruise missiles aboard the Dolphin would remain intact and ready for retaliation. The arrival of the Dolphin essentially transforms the Israeli navy from an auxiliary service operating primarily in support of land and air forces to an instrument of strategic deterrence. Assistant Defense Minister Yisrael Tal, well-known in Israel as the “father” of the Merkava tank, has long been one of the most prominent voices in the IDF pushing for this transformation. “Israel must turn the sea into a part of its defense depth,” wrote Tal, a retired major-general, in a book published earlier this year. “The designation of the Navy must change – no longer an assistance branch, but a branch of strategic deterrence.” When the Navy’s armament plans met opposition from the top brass in the late 1980’s, Tal chaired a committee which examined the issue and submitted an unequivocal recommendation to then defense minister Yitzhak Rabin for the purchase of advanced submarines.3 The contract with Germany was briefly canceled due to its hefty price tag ($300 million per submarine), but was reinstated after Iraq demonstrated Israel’s vulnerability to missile strikes by firing 39 Scud missiles at Tel Aviv during the 1991 Gulf War. Two thirds of the $900 million bill is now being paid by Germany (Israeli military sources said that Germany decided to do this as compensation for the role of German companies in developing Iraqi chemical weapons). Over the last eighteen months the Israeli navy has also purchased new Sa’ar V missile corvettes and upgraded its Sa’ar 4.5 NIRIT-class fast attack craft.
|Suddenly, Israel has a potent navy
By Steve Rodan, Middle East Newsline SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM Thursday, July 29, 1999 TEL AVIV [MENL] — As the captain left his vessel, he was saluted by a senior Israeli Air Force officer. “That’s a change,” the captain said. “I never thought an air force officer would salute me.” The salute came during the arrival ceremony of the first of three Dolphin-class submarines from Germany in an acquisition that the military agrees will change Israel’s modest navy. The submarines, defense officials and military commander said, will change the navy into an offensive force at least that as potent as the air force. The three submarines will be able to patrol thousands of kilometers from Israel’s shores and avoid most detection systems. Defense sources said the possibilities are many. The submarines can be used for intelligence-gathering, particularly in such distant targets as Iran and Iraq. The Dolphin, which can carry a crew of 35, can be used for special operations, such as commando raids similar to the rescue operation at Entebbe in 1976. Then, the air force brought the commandos who freed Israeli hostages hijacked by Palestinians and brought to Uganda. The third scenario is that the Dolphin will be used in the next Arab-Israeli war. The Israeli Navy said the submarine has ten 21-inch multi-purpose tubes for torpedoes, mines, missiles and decoys. That means Israel can react to a missile attack from such countries as Iran and Iraq with a punishing attack on their ports and cities. Foreign reports said the tubes could carry cruise missiles. They said Israel could modify its purported nuclear weapons to respond to any Arab nuclear attack. The submarines could rob Israel’s enemies from launching a massive first-strike in the hope that such an attack would destroy all of the missiles in the tiny Jewish state. A senior defense source said the acquisition of the German submarines is the most important Israeli military procurement in decades. The source said Iran and the Arab states have failed to develop anti-submarine warfare systems to detect such a quiet submarine as the Dolphin. The source said the purchase of the Dolphins is more important than the 1994 decision to procure 25 F-15 long-range fighter-jets from the United States. He pointed to U.S. and Arab restrictions on Israel that prevented its air force from retaliating against Iraqi missile strikes in the 1991 Gulf War. “If you don’t have the air space where are you going to fly?” the source said. “On the other hand, the seas are open. We don’t have to ask permission.” “There is a navy in Israel,” President Ezer Weizman, a former Air Force commander, said. Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a former chief of staff and ground forces commander, agreed. “This will change the entire navy and Israel’s long arm,” he said. Arab states have not ignored the Israeli procurement. Since 1996, when the first Dolphin was launched, Egypt has been searching for advanced submarines from such diverse suppliers as the United States and Russia. A senior defense source said Egypt is considering ordering submarines from Germany similar to the Dolphin. Cairo is also considering the purchase of new Dutch subs. The Gulf War was the turning point for Israel’s military planners. After years of indecision, they accepted a German offer to build two Dolphins for free and pay half of the cost of the third. The procurement is worth some $1.6 billion. Navy Commander Admiral Alex Tal said at a ceremony for the Dolphin on Tuesday that the second submarine will arrive in October. The last submarine will arrive in the summer of next year. In addition, the navy is expecting to deploy three Sa’ar-5 missile boats. Military sources said the U.S.-built corvettes have a design that allows them to escape most radar detection. Defense officials, however, said they expect tremendous opposition to investing in the navy. They said the government is looking to cut the defense budget as part of economic reforms and the services will once again be vying for limited funds. “The question is will the navy again be at the bottom of the list, this time with advanced subs and missile boats waiting to be operated?” an official asked. Thursday, July 29, 1999
|July 1, 1998 The Washington Times
Israel buying 3 submarines to carry nuclear missiles
By Martin Sieff
Israel is buying three large submarines from Germany capable of carrying nuclear-armed cruise missiles, with the reported goal of deterring any enemy from trying to take out its nuclear weapons with a surprise attack. The first of the submarines is undergoing tests in the North Sea as Israel completes a major review of its strategic defense doctrine, which some generals believe is dangerously outdated. Without the submarines, Israeli political and intelligence sources say, the armed forces fear their nuclear arsenal is vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike by Iran or any other Middle East nation that may acquire nuclear weapons. These sources note that Israeli intelligence estimates Iran will develop its own nuclear weapons and missiles with the range to reach Israel within five to seven years. Israeli leaders and intelligence analysts believe it is highly likely that Iran already has four nuclear warheads that were stolen or secretly bought from a former Soviet republic in 1992, an Israeli government source said. Mounting nuclear cruise missiles on submarines at sea would give Israel a credible capability to retaliate against a pre-emptive nuclear attack, the sources said. The respected Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported June 8 that Israeli military planners want to mount nuclear-armed cruise missiles on the new submarines. The three Dolphin-class subs are among the most technically advanced of their kind in the world. They weigh 1,700 tons when immersed and are twice as big as the 20-year-old Gal class submarines the Israeli navy previously has relied upon. The first sub is undergoing operational trials in the North Sea between Germany and Britain and is expected to be operational by early next year, Ha’aretz said. A Pentagon official said the United States expects all three submarines to be delivered before the end of this year. Israel ordered the three submarines from Germany when it could not find a U.S. shipyard to produce the diesel and electric-powered boats it wanted, Ha’aretz said. Following a disclosure that German companies supplied materials for Iraq’s chemical and other nonconventional weapons programs, the Bonn government announced it would fund the construction of two of the three submarines, Ha’aretz said. The paper said the Israeli government decided to pay for the third submarine itself. Experts say the deterrence problem has become urgent for Israeli military planners, who have produced hundreds of nuclear weapons but have made no serious effort to protect their few launch bases against a pre-emptive nuclear attack. Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi repeatedly has expressed his dream of wiping out the Jewish state in a nuclear strike. On one occasion, he expressed the ambition of annihilating New York City. Gen. Matan Vilnai, Israel’s retiring deputy chief of staff, warned in recent days that Israel’s survival was threatened by failure to update its defense doctrine, according to the London Daily Telegraph. The newspaper said some 90 defense experts, intelligence officials, economists, scientists and academics have been participating since January in a secret review of the doctrine. Israel first ordered the Dolphin submarines in 1989 but canceled the order a year later, saying the subs would be too expensive. The Likud-led government of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir reinstated the order in 1991 after Saddam Hussein’s Scud missile attacks on Israel during the Persian Gulf war. Maj. Gen. Avraham Botzer, former commander of the Israeli navy, told Israeli television in December 1990 that his country needed submarines not just to attack enemy warships but also as platforms for weapon systems to deter against an attack by weapons of mass destruction. “The submarines must be [an instrument] of the state of Israel, not just the navy,” Gen. Botzer said. “Submarines all over the world serve as part of the deterrent system against nonconventional warfare. They are a way of guaranteeing that the enemy will not be tempted to strike pre-emptively with nonconventional weapons and get away scot-free.” A recent Pentagon study said Israel has developed an air-launched cruise missile that should be operational by 2002. The missile, called the Popeye Turbo, will have a range of more than 200 miles, the U.S. report said. U.S. military analysts said the Popeye could easily be adapted for launch from a submarine. Anthony Cordesman, co-director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a study published June 3 that the Popeye cruise missile was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Jane’s Intelligence Review reported Sept. 1 that photo reconnaissance indicated Israel had stored around 150 nuclear warheads and 50 Jericho II intermediate range missiles to carry them at Zachariah air force base southeast of Tel Aviv. Zachariah means in Hebrew, “God remembers with vengeance.” The London-based Jane’s also estimated “that the Israeli arsenal may contain as many as 400 nuclear weapons with a total combined yield of 50 megatons.” The Jericho is believed to have a 3,000-mile range and carry a payload of just under 1 ton, easily enough to accommodate even a hydrogen bomb. But Jane’s said the Israelis had not constructed hardened silos at Zachariah to protect these weapons, and that the buildings and limestone caves in which they were housed were vulnerable to a nuclear blast. “The vulnerability of the missile base appears to show an inertia within the Israeli military, U.S. military analyst Harold Hough wrote in Jane’s. “Instead of reviewing its nuclear strategy after the fall of the Soviet Union and focusing on making a nuclear deterrent that could survive an attack by Third World nuclear weapons, Israel continued to focus on producing more nuclear weapons as if envisioning a nuclear exchange with a geographically large country,” Mr. Hough wrote. Copyright © 1998 News World Communications, Inc.
|The news has been probably leaked from Israeli intelligence agencies but it provoked noise. Three Israeli conventional submarines of Dolphin class would embark missiles armed with nuclear head to hit in practical all the Middle East in silent and invisibile way. With these ships, Israeli would complete atomic triad since it has been a while that they have launchable heads with ballistic missiles and air-transportable bombs. Difficult to confirm the news. Sure, three Dolphin class submarines built by the German HDW are boats equipped with torpedo, antiaircraft missiles and antiship missiles Harpoon. However, Jerusalem has not convinced US to supply the missiles for Tomahawk cruise, equipped with 1.500 km of launch and possible to equip with nuclear heads. “
Considering the progresses of Israeli industry in the miniaturization field, it is possible that the Harpoon has been modified, inserting a mini atomic head and increasing the tank capacity to raise the launch. In this case, Israel would be able to hit with atomic weapons the targets situated 500-700 km away from the drop zones of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the areas where Israeli submarines normally are in cruise. The deterrent effect of a similar weapon system in confronting Iran, Iraq and Syria is obvious and for this reason many observers think that Israel would have had intention to drip and “exaggerate” the news, showing its Military powerr while politically Jerusalem starts the negotiation with Syria and Palestinians.