The Israel Navy is looking to install short- and long-range surface-to-surface missiles on new vessels it hopes to buy in the coming year.

The requirement for the new missile systems is based on the navy’s desire to assist large IDF ground offensives either in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon or Syria. The missiles could be used to attack enemy installations – bases or radar stations – and to provide fire support for ground forces.

“These missiles will give us the ability to play a more influential role,” a senior navy officer said.

In Israel’s recent wars and operations – the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead – the navy mostly enforced sea a sea blockade and provided minimal support for ground forces operating along the Gaza coast.

The navy is looking at a number of systems, including Israel Military Industries’ 160 mm Accular – a GPS-guided missile system with a range of 40 km., as well as longer-range missiles.

The navy is in talks with the Defense Ministry about the need for new vessels to more effectively protect Israeli gas rigs that are under construction in the Mediterranean Sea. It is seeking a larger platform than the Sa’ar 5-class corvettes it currently operates.

The vessel will have to accommodate an advanced radar system, a helicopter and a launch system capable of firing long-range air defense and surface-to-surface missiles. One possibility is to design the ships in the United States using foreign military financing and then build them at Israel Shipyards; another option is to build them in South Korea.

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