Not much is known about the operations carried out by Israel’s submarines. But
then again, that’s exactly the point.
By 2014, Israel is scheduled to
increase its fleet of submarines from three to five and it is currently in talks
with Germany to purchase a sixth submarine, which, if ordered, would arrive a
few years later.
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Widely believed to be Israel’s second-strike capability
with their reported ability to launch cruise missiles with nuclear warheads, the
Navy’s submarines are shrouded in an aura of mystery and prestige.
ordered its first two Dolphin-class submarines after the first Gulf War. Reports
of Iraqi chemical warheads – which were never fired – being developed with the
help of German companies strained relations between Berlin and Jerusalem. That
led the German government to offer humanitarian and military support in the form
of two submarines free of charge. The third submarine was ordered a year later,
and the cost was split by Germany and Israel.
The new vessels being
assembled in Germany will be fitted with a propulsion system combining a
conventional system – consisting of a diesel generator with a lead acid battery
– and an air-independent propulsion system used for silent slow cruising, with a
fuel cell equipped with oxygen and hydrogen storage.
“With the new German
technology,” a Navy officer said on Sunday, “the new submarines will be able to
remain submerged for much, much longer than the older Dolphin
While they are eight meters longer than their predecessor, the
Gal-class sub, Dolphin-class submarines pale in comparison to the US
Trident-class nuclear-powered submarines, which boast a length of 166
Nevertheless, the Dolphin-class vessels are totally automated and
computer-integrated, with systems developed by several major Israeli defense
companies, including Tadiran, Elbit, IAI and Rada. They are equipped with both
low frequency and passive sonar, and their integrated fire control system allow
them to track and evaluate a significantly large number of
According to the reference book Jane’s Fighting Ships, the
Dolphin submarine has the capability of launching swimmer delivery vehicles
carrying eight frogmen through its torpedo tubes.