Navy still looking to enlarge fleet

Due to budgetary constraints, Navy cancels plans to buy two next-generation missile ships.

The INS Hetz navy ship boat 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
The INS Hetz navy ship boat 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Due to budgetary constraints, the Navy has scrapped plans to purchase two next-generation missile ships and is instead looking to increase its fleet with smaller vessels.
The Navy had originally decided to purchase the US Navy’s littoral combat ship, under development by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, but backed away from the deal after the price soared.
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It then looked into buying designs from Germany’s Blohm+Voss and having the vessels built by Israel Shipyards – a privately owned company based in Haifa that already builds the navy’s smaller Shaldag patrol boats – but a senior IDF officer involved in procurement plans said that a budget for that plan was also lacking.
Instead, the Navy is now looking to order two new Sa’ar 4.5-class missile corvettes and to finance the deal by retiring two of its Sa’ar 4-class ships.
The Sa’ar 4 ships have been in Navy service since the 1970s. The Sa’ar 4.5 ship is slightly larger than the Sa’ar 4 enabling it to carry more weapons systems.
The Navy reportedly has eight Sa’ar 4.5-class ships which come equipped with Harpoon missiles, a 76mm.
gun and a Phalanx defensive system. The ships can also be equipped with Barak missile defense systems, depending on operational needs.
The Navy had made a case for two advanced next-generation missile ships and even contemplated installing Arrow ballistic missile defense systems and surface-to-surface missiles on them.
However the General Staff decided against budgeting the two new vessels – which would have cost around $500 million – and instead approved the smaller and cheaper expansion of the Navy’s fleet.
The Navy has been playing an increasing role in IDF operations in recent years, whether operating alongside ground forces during Operation Cast Lead three years ago or against Iranian weapons smuggling in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
Over the weekend, for example, Sudanese media reported that an Israeli submarine recently participated in an Israeli Air Force bombing of weapons convoys in eastern Sudan.