Israel moving forward with sixth German submarine

May 6, 2011 02:35

Dolphin-class U212 subs have improved propulsion system and can stay submerged for long periods.

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A Dolphin-class submarine docks in Haifa port.

Dolphin submarine 311. (photo credit: reuters)

Germany has pledged to build a new submarine for the navy, paving the way for a deal that will boost Israel’s strategic long-arm capabilities in the face of Iran’s continued race toward nuclear power.

Talks on the deal for the Dolphin-class sub stalled last year after the Germans declined to underwrite it, as they had done with previous purchases. The vessel will cost between $500 million and $700m. The submarines are considered Israel’s most sophisticated and strategic weapon.

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Israel already has three Dolphin-class subs; another two are currently under construction in Germany with expected delivery dates of 2012 and 2013.

According to foreign reports, Israel’s submarines have a second-strike capability and carry cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

Germany donated Israel’s first two submarines after the first Gulf War and, according to the German press, split the cost of the third with Israel. The three undersea vessels currently in the navy’s possession employ a diesel-electric propulsion system, which requires frequent resurfacing to recharge their batteries.

The new submarines – called the U212 – will be fitted with a new German technology in which the propulsion system combines a conventional diesel/lead-acid battery system and an air-independent propulsion system used for slow, silent cruising, with a fuel cell equipped with oxygen and hydrogen storage.

The submarines will also incorporate specifications gleaned from Israel Navy experience. The Dolphins currently in the navy’s fleet were tailor-made for its needs and reportedly have considerable operational capability.

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