Israel tests missile for defending maritime assets after Hezbollah threat

IAI's Gabriel 5 surface-to-surface missile can hit mobile and stationary targets, on land or at sea.

 Israel Navy carries out missile test aimed to protect strategic maritime assets. (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Israel Navy carries out missile test aimed to protect strategic maritime assets.
(photo credit: SCREENSHOT/IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

As Hezbollah continues to threaten Israel’s gas rigs, the Israeli Navy and the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research and Development (MAFAT) successfully tested the Gabriel 5 surface-to-surface missile.

The fifth generation surface-to-surface missile, also known as the Blue Spear, is designed to strike targets in contested, congested and complex scenarios even when dealing with sophisticated countermeasures.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the “complex test” of the missile was carried out in August as part of a series of tests for the Navy’s new Sa’ar 6 missile ships. The INS Oz participated in the test, which also evaluated the ship’s abilities to deal with various threats with new weapons systems like the Gabriel 5.

“The advanced missile ensures the advantage of the Navy and the preservation of the IDF’s naval superiority, and will be used by the Navy in its missions, including the protection of the strategic assets of the State of Israel,” the statement said.

The system has combined anti-ship and land attack capabilities with a range of 290 km at high sub-sonic speed. It has beyond line of sight strike capabilities and can strike both mobile or stationary targets.

 Israel Navy carries out missile test aimed to protect strategic maritime assets. (credit: SCREENSHOT/IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) Israel Navy carries out missile test aimed to protect strategic maritime assets. (credit: SCREENSHOT/IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

With a state-of-the-art radar seeker and advanced weapon control system, it can provide precise target detection and engagement and operate under all weather conditions, as well as during both the day and night.

The missile weighs 760 kg, is 4.3 meters long and possesses a 150kg high explosive munition warhead that uses active radar-homing for target acquisition through INS-based navigation.

The missile, which can be launched with a fire-and-forget mode or fire and update version, does not fly in a straight line toward its target, making it difficult for a radar or optical system of an interceptor to detect and hit. It also features sea-skimming capabilities that make it difficult for radars to detect and intercept.

Navy's statements

IAI CEO Boaz Levy said that the “integration of these capabilities on the Sa’ar 6 constitutes a significant leap forward in the field of naval warfare, for the protection of the strategic assets of the State of Israel.”

“The Navy continues to develop and change in the face of a variety of increasing operational challenges and regional changes,” said Rear Admiral Guy Goldfarb, chief of staff of the Israeli Navy, adding that the missile system will “strengthen the operational and defensive capabilities of the Navy.”

“The Navy believes in preserving freedom of navigation, the preservation of the maritime arena, as well as the economic waters and the strategic assets of the State of Israel,” Goldfard continued, adding that the Navy provides the country with strategic depth.

“The Navy believes in preserving freedom of navigation, the preservation of the maritime arena, as well as the economic waters and the strategic assets of the State of Israel.”

Rear Admiral Guy Goldfarb

The Israel Aerospace Industries’ short-range cruise missile is co-developed with Singapore’s ST Engineering defense company and marketed by joint venture company Proteus Advanced Systems.

Estonia has already purchased the missile and is expected to use it for coastal defense against hostile ships.

On Saturday evening, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned that any gas extraction from the Karish gas field by Israel would be a “red line” for the group, who would need to respond.

“We are following up on the negotiations and all our eyes are on Karish, and our missiles are locked on Karish,” he warned. “As long as extraction has not started, there is a chance for solutions.”

“We’ve been calm over the past weeks because we were giving a real chance to negotiations… Our objective is to enable Lebanon to extract oil and gas, and we are not seeking a problem,” he was quoted by Lebanon’s Naharnet News as saying in a televised address marking Arba’een, an annual Shiite religious holiday that marks 40 days after the death of Imam al-Hussein in the Battle of Karbala.

There has been cautious optimism that Jerusalem and Beirut are close to signing an agreement on the maritime border dispute after back-and-forth diplomacy by the United States. According to reports, the deal would see the Karish gas field remain in Israel while the Kana field will be owned by Lebanon.

Despite continued threats by Nasrallah, the Greek-French-owned company that drills in Karish said that gas extraction is expected to start within weeks.