Israel Navy to Modernize Hetz Class Missile Boats with a New Radar

The EL/M-2258 ALPHA radar from IAI Elta

The EL/M-2258 ALPHA radar from IAI Elta. Photo: IAI Elta Systems

The Israel navy has awarded IAI Elta a first contract for the development and integration of the Advanced Lightweight Phased Array (ALPHA) Naval Radar on the Hetz Class Saar 4.5 Missile Boats. The contract is the first step in the next, long anticipated upgrading of the SAAR 4.5 ‘Hetz’ class missile boats, operational with the Israel Navy since the 1980s. These missile boats currently operate with several mission specific radars, including the IAI/Elta EL/M-2221 naval fire control radar, an area search radar and the Automatic Missile Detection Radar (AMDR), supporting the Barak 1 close-in weapon system.

The EL/M-2258 Software Defined Radar will replace all those radars with a single system, more reliable, flexible and agile. This S-band radar utilizes solid-state, electronically scanned radar array rotating over 360 degrees. The radar employs advanced beam forming techniques for multipath suppression and Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCM). It is designed to detect targets with low Radar Cross Section (RCS) even in highly cluttered conditions. The system will improve the naval theater situation awareness picture and support on board weapon systems are designed to operate under tough environmental conditions and against challenging targets expected in the existing and future naval arena.

The new radar employs modern phased array technology, utilizing the same solid-state Transmit/Receive (T/R) modules derived from Elta’s larger EL/M-2248 MF-STAR radars. The company has already delivered the first MF-STAR radar for installation on three new Project 15A guided missile destroyers of the Indian Navy. A smaller version of the MF-STAR is also in production for the Israeli Navy, destined to modernize the three Saar V corvettes of the Israel Navy, as part of their upgrade that will include the installation of barak 8 air and missiles defense weapon system.

As its bigger brother, the Alpha is also designed for operation in open sea and littorals. Unlike the MF-STAR that weighs several tons, the ALPHA weighs only 1.2 tons, and its mast mounted segment weighs only 700 kg with the remaining 500 kg stored below deck. Its compact dimensions enable the ALPHA to be installed on small corvette size vessels. The system uses two-dimensional electronic beam steering, providing instantaneous multi-beam emission supporting simultaneous multi-mission functionality. The system provides high resolution maritime surface surveillance and tracking, 3D long-range air surveillance and tracking, 3D medium range automatic threat alert (supporting self-defense anti-missile systems) performed within the area scan. It also provides target classification of surface and airborne targets (including helicopters), gunnery control and splash spotting for fire correction. The radar provides supports very high tracking update rate and accuracy for priority targets.

Israel's Navy Saar 4.5 Class Missile Boats currently operate the EL/M 2221 fire control radar also developed and produced by Elta Systems. Photo: Ori Shifrin, IDF.

Israel’s Navy Saar 4.5 Class Missile Boats currently operate the EL/M 2221 fire control radar also developed and produced by Elta Systems. Photo: Ori Shifrin, IDF.

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  1. That’s very good news – the Israeli navy really needed this upgrade. It is good that Saar 5 missile corvettes are going to get the smaller version of Elta’s MF-STAR, enabling them to be at the same time rearmed from Rafael’s Barak-1B to Barak-8 anti-missile systems. While Elta’s EL/M-2258 ALPHA radar surely can cooperate with the Barak-8 system – there is a question, whether there is enough of space on the 500 ton missile corvettes Saar 4.5 to get Barak-8 systems even there, and to replace the current Barak-1s, so that the Saar 4.5 boats would get the same level of protection as the Saar 5 boats, after their upgrade. The problem is, that the latest models of Barak-1 can cope with ANY sea-to-sea, air-to-sea and shore-to-sea missiles – but may eventually encounter problems regarding the recently introduced in Syria, Russian, strongly super-sonic Yakhont missiles. The Barak-8 system is able to cope with this particular problem.

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