Israel gets ready to expand its submarine fleet
HAIFA, Israel, July 29 (UPI) — The Israeli navy is getting ready to expand its fleet of German-built Dolphin-class submarines that are widely believed to give it the only seaborne nuclear missile capability in the Middle East.
Three early-model Dolphins are already in service and reportedly range as far as the Indian Ocean south of Iran. But the navy’s moving closer to deploying two more of the 1,720-ton, diesel-electric boats built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in the Baltic port of Kiel. HWD is a unit of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
The fourth Dolphin, christened the Tanin, was handed over to the Israeli navy by HDW in May 2012 and is due to become operational within the next few months following sea tests and evaluation.
The fifth boat, the Rahav, was launched in Kiel April 29 and is expected to arrive in Israel’s northern port of Haifa, the submarine fleet’s headquarters and main base, around mid-2014.
A contract for a sixth Dolphin, the most advanced of the series, was signed with the German government in May 2012 after differences over payment.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also imposed a series of political conditions on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, including unblocking $100 million a month in customs duties imposed on the Palestinian Authority and other funds blocked by Israel.
The sixth Dolphin is scheduled to reach Israel in 2017.
Little information on the Dolphin operations is ever released, though it is general understood that with the current three boats operational, one is on patrol in the Red Sea or Indian Ocean, covering Iran and its gunrunning routes to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
One is at Haifa on refit, while the third is cruising the Mediterranean.
After the Israelis supposedly knocked out an arms depot outside the Syrian port and naval base at Latakia July 5, where the regime was said to be storing ship-killing, Russian-supplied P-800 Yakhont missiles, there were reports — never substantiated — that a Dolphin in the Mediterranean had unleashed a broadside of land-attack missiles on the site.
The Dolphins carry conventional versions of the Popeye Turbo cruise missile for that kind of mission. These are manufactured by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The navy adapted the original air-launched version of the Popeye for the Dolphin force. The U.S. Navy tracked a secret Israeli submarine-launched Popeye test in the Indian Ocean in 2002 in which the missile hit a target at a range of nearly 950 miles.
The Dolphins, based on the design of HDW’s U-209 class sub, have a range of about 2,700 miles, although this has been likely extended in the three advanced models Israel’s now getting.
Expanding the Jewish state’s submarine force from three units to six is no trivial matter since it will involve finding and training men for the Dolphins, which usually carry 35-man crews.
These systems will form the navy’s strategic spearhead that will add immense firepower to Israel’s nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based weapons, which in the event of war with Iran over its contentious nuclear program would play a vital role in taking out nuclear facilities or other strategic targets.
Manning the new Dolphins, and having backup crews for rotations, will have to be implemented without weakening the quality of existing crews.
The Israeli military’s Bamachaneh magazine reports that the number of personnel selected for submarine warfare has grown by 30 percent in recent recruitment intakes.
According to published reports in Israel, that’s a significant shift in a country where the arm and the air force traditionally have been given precedence when it comes to top-quality recruits.
Israel’s Arutz Sheva news outlet reported that more officers are being trained for submarine posts and the number of cadets who will be trained for submarine command has been rising by 35 percent.
The head of the navy’s high school outreach program, identified only as Maj. Yisrael, said the project began in 2012 as the new subs were still being built in Kiel. He expects about 30 percent of the young sailors who attend a five-day introductory program at the Naval Instruction Base at Haifa this year will reach the navy’s training course phase after enlisting.
The major told one group of 11th-graders: “To serve in submarines is unique … . This is all-important work but it won’t be publicized and submarine crew members can’t tell anyone what they do.”
India is a huge market. Russia might be the “best bet” as a source of armoured vehicles, aircraft and naval vessels, but there is plenty of room for other nations’ defence industries… particularly if they have the common sense to partner with Indian companies and foster domestic production of licenced products. Can you imagine the unit cost of a Type 26 frigate if BAE Systems could add a dozen Indian Navy vessels to the scant 13 proposed for the Royal Navy? The Indian Shishumar- class submarine is a licenced copy of the German Type 209 (with lead vessels built in India and follow-on vessels built in Indian yards). As the Indian submarine fleet expands – particularly towards nuclear-powered boats – there is a clear opportunity for British, French and American defence companies to reach out and offer alternatives to over-dependence on Russian goodwill.
Why Russia is still India’s best bet for defense procurement despite problems
These are the difficult times for Russia as it no longer finds itself as singularly favored as it once used to some years ago in milking the lucrative Indian defense market. And yet the Russians are the best bet for India when it comes to defense procurement.
Here are the glass half-full and glass half-empty pictures for Russia when it comes to doing business with the new-look of the Indian defense sector.
The Down Side
On the down side, there can be three strong undercurrents which stack up against Russia.
One, Russia still continues to be the single largest defense vendor for the Indian industry and is responsible for over 60 percent of Indian weaponry currently in use by India – a situation that a resurgent India and its military establishment are not happy with and are showing signs of change, much to the chagrin of the Russians.
Two, the Russian defense exports market is shrinking. The Russia-China defense relationship is not in good shape because of various reasons, particularly the fact that the Russian defense imports are no longer welcome by the Chinese. India, on the contrary, remains one of the biggest purchasers of Russian arms purchasers in the world today.
The figures speak for themselves. Even in these hard times of a declining Indo-Russian defense partnership, India accounted for some 25 percent of Russia’s arms sales revenue. In the year 2011 alone, India spent $3.3 billion on Russian arms.
Though the Indian defense procurement policy is rapidly being kept abreast to meet contemporary challenges with a sharply-increased focus on self-reliance as demonstrated by the latest policy changes announced by the Indian defense establishment on June 1, 2013, the political bosses in New Delhi are well sensitized to keep Russia in good humor.
According to the new Defense Procurement Procedure-2013, unveiled by the Indian defense ministry on June 1, 2013, the requirement of the prescribed indigenous content, that is 30% in the Buy (Indian) category, is to be achieved on the overall cost basis, as well as in the core components like the basic equipment, manufacturers recommended spares, special tools and test equipment taken together. In addition, the basic equipment must also have minimum 30% indigenous content at all stages including the one offered at the trial stage. It has further been stipulated that an indigenization plan will be provided by the vendor.
Three, the Russians have of late faced cut-throat competition from the West and even from a small state like Israel in eating into the rapidly-shrinking and competitive Indian defense market. Till a few years ago, it was a rarity for India to buy American defense equipment. But this situation has changed drastically, much to the discomfiture of the Russians.
The Up Side
Simultaneously, there are three very good reasons as to why the Russians are still the best bet for India in defense procurements and why it is a win-win situation for India and Russia to continue their age-old partnership on defense and strategic issues.
First of all, the Russians have an established track record of supporting its friends to the hilt. The biggest contemporary example is Syria.
Russia has sent a loud and clear message through the current Syrian crisis that it will stand by its allies, whatever it takes. This is a husband-like virtue which all states appreciate, cutting across their ideological tilts. In the ongoing Syrian crisis, Russia has demonstrated to everybody that it firmly stands by its proclaimed friends, even when they are in a snake pit.
Therefore, it becomes a Russian USP for selling its armaments. The message is unmistakable: that Russia will stand by you even if you are in the midst of the worst rough and tumble diplomatically.
No country can better vouch for this than India!
The second point is closely inter-related to the first one. It relates to the spin-off effects of tying up your lot with Russia – and not to forget the ever-readiness of the Russians to transfer technology that the US and its Western allies never do for anyone.
While the West is known to bandy about its existing democratic and governance systems and pegging implementation of their defense deals to their own so-called constitutional and legal requirements and ending up in reneging on their promises and pledges, Russia will never do this.
The world needs to learn from India and its political leadership how not to belittle or berate Russia and assess Russia on its impeccably high delivery quotient when it comes to living up to its promises.
Why else is it that the Indian political leadership has never criticized or levied financial penalties on Russia despite the long delays and cost overruns that have plagued a vast percentage of Indo-Russian bilateral defense contracts as well as Indo-Russian joint projects in the defense arena?
Russia’s solid support to India extends well beyond the defense procurement arena. The Indians won’t have been ensconced in their foreign military facilities like Ayni, near Dushanbe and Farkhor, near the Afghan border in Tajikistan, but for an indulgent Russia which wields strong influence over Tajikistan.
Now the third point in favor of Russia flows from the second one. The example in this case too is India again.
India cannot dream of having an effective military defense without access to a satellite navigation system which the Russians have been so gladly and willingly providing: the Glonass (Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema), Russia’s own version of the American Global Positioning System (GPS).
The Glonass system passed a stiff military test in 2008 during Russia’s war with Georgia. During this conflict, the Russians turned to the Americans for help as Glonass lacked the number of satellites that would ensure its proper functioning. But the Americans played dirty and switched off their GPS system in the region, hampering the Russian military operations in a big way. But the Russian Glonass proved its worth.
The Indians know very well that the Americans won’t be of any help in the event of an India-Pakistan conflict. The only fall-back option for the Indians in such an event would be Glonass, and that is why when Russia offered India access to the Glonass military system in October 2011, Indian defense minister A.K. Antony readily and gratefully accepted.
The bottom line is clear. Though the Indian defense procurement conditions are getting tougher and tougher for the Russians, the time-tested strategic partners will do well to stick together, smooth out the rough edges and repair their defense ties in mutual interest.
India should realize that its defense contracts with overseas suppliers may at anytime end up with the latter applying political strings to the done deals. Russia has never done this.
At first glance, the Dolphin class appears to be a conventional Type 209 SSK with standard torpedo tubes, but the Dolphin also has oversized 650mm (26in) tubes that can launch the Popeye Turbo SLCM… and that seems to be sufficient to deal Assad’s regime a hefty blow 🙂
Israeli submarine responsible for July attack on Syrian arms depot – report
Israeli submarines carried out the attack on an arms depot in the Syrian port city of Latakia on July 5, according to a report published in the British Sunday Times. US media previously claimed the offensive was carried out by the Israel Air Force.
The Times cited Middle East intelligence sources as stating that the Israeli Dolphin-class submarines targeted a contingent of 50 Russian-made Yakhont P-800 anti-ship missiles that had reportedly arrived earlier this year to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The alleged Israeli naval strike was repotedly closely coordinated with the US.
According to the newspaper, the Israeli fleet of German-built submarines launched a cruise missile at the weapons cache after which Syrian rebels reportedly attested to hearing early-morning explosions at a Syrian port-side naval barracks.
Syrian rebels said that they were not responsible for the explosions.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council, Qassem Saadeddine, confirmed the attack hit Syrian Navy barracks at Safira. He said the rebel forces’ intelligence network had identified the newly supplied Yakhont missiles being stored there.
According to the rebels, the scale of the blasts was beyond the firepower available to them, but consistent with that of a modern military like Israel’s.
“It was not the FSA that targeted this,” Saadeddine told Reuters. “It is not an attack that was carried out by rebels. This attack was either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean,” he added.
The pre-dawn attack was first reported by CNN.
Several unnamed US officials allegedly told The New York Times, in an article published on Saturday, that the Israeli Air Force had targeted the Russian-made anti-ship missiles that posed a threat to Israel’s naval forces.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the attack.
“We have set red lines in regards to our own interests, and we keep them. There is an attack here, an explosion there, various versions – in any event, in the Middle East it is usually we who are blamed for most,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in response to the Latakia blasts.
The Syrian government has not commented on the incident either; a state television report mentioned a “series of explosions” at the site.
According to regional intelligence sources, cited by Reuters, the Israelis previously struck in Syria at least three times earlier this year to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry from Assad’s army to Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.
In all prior cases of strikes thought to be linked to Israel’s armed forces, Israeli officials have not gone on record to take responsibility for the attacks. Tel Aviv has made it clear however, that the country is prepared to go into Syria if it means preventing Hezbollah or other militant groups from obtaining additional weaponry, including chemical weapons.
Προσάραξη του υποβρυχίου S113 ΠΡΩΤΕΥΣ στη Σούδα
Όπως ανακοινώθηκε από το Γενικό Επιτελείο Ναυτικού, το Υποβρύχιο ΠΡΩΤΕΥΣ κατά τη διάρκεια πλου εντός του όρμου της Σούδας, στη Κρήτη, και κατά την διάρκεια χειρισμών αποφυγής πλοίων, κινήθηκε πλησίον ακτών και επακούμβησε σε αρχαίο υποβρύχιο μόλο.
Κανένα μέλος του πληρώματος δεν τραυματίστηκε, το Υποβρύχιο δεν έχει πρόβλημα ασφαλείας και δεν έχουν προκληθεί ζημιές.
Εκτελούνται ενέργειες για αποκόλληση του πλοίου και επιστροφής στο Ναύσταθμο Σούδας για λεπτομερή έλεγχο.
Meet the IDF´s newest submariners
Graduates of the Israeli Navy’s prestigious submarine course completed a year and 4 months of grueling training to be inducted into the elite aquatic unit this week
The graduation ceremony for the Israeli Navy’s latest submarine crew training course took place on Sunday (June 30) at the IDF’s naval base in Haifa. The ceremony was attended by the Commander in Chief of the Israeli Navy Vice Adm. Ram Rothberg, Commander of the Haifa Naval Base Brig. Gen. Eliahu Sharvit, Commander of the Submarine Flotilla Col. G., as well as the graduates’ families, guests and friends.Soldiers are inducted into the prestigious submarine course on a voluntary basis. The 16-month-long course is renowned for being challenging and focusing on professionalism and values. After completing all three stages of the course, the graduates are awarded the rank of sergeant and the coveted submariner’s badge. In the coming week the graduates will begin manning their positions aboard the navy’s submarines according to the respective specialist tracks for which they were selected during the course.
Systems track: Soldiers in this track operate some of the most complex technical systems in the IDF including hydraulics, pneumatics and engines.
Navigation and detection track: The IDF’s submarines are equipped with some of the world’s most advanced detection and navigation systems. These soldiers’ duty is to safely direct the submarine’s movements deep under the surface.
Electronics track: These soldiers provide technical supervision and operation of the command and control systems in all of the submarine’s engineering processes.
Weapons track: The Israeli Navy’s submarine flotilla boasts incredibly sophisticated weapons systems which are maintained and operated by soldiers in this track.
Sonar track: Soldiers analyse and operate the submarine’s sonar systems, while managing the various scenarios that the vessel is likely to encounter in open water.