The Israeli government has decided to finalize the acquisition of a sixth Improved Dolphin class submarine from Germany, with payment to be spread over several years. The Dolphins are manufactured by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), which is owned by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Israel currently operates three Dolphin Class subs, two were financed by Germany and the cost of a third sub was shared by Israel These three submarines were delivered in 1998 – 2000. Two additional submarines are currently under construction and expected for delivery in 2013-2014. Berlin was ready to bear two thirds of the cost of these two constructions but was reluctant to extend such terms to the sixth sub.
The Dolphin is a 1,900 ton submarine designed specifically for Israel, based to some extent on the German Type 209 design. It is powered by standard diesel electric propulsion, and is equipped with four 533mm (21″) torpedo launch tubes, launching torpedoes and surface attack missiles. Four additional 650mm (25.5″) tubes are believed to support launching of oversized weapons, such as a type of submarine launched cruise missile enabling the Israeli Navy an unconventional ‘second strike’ capability – according to unconfirmed reports.
The enhanced version of the Dolphin submarine is extended by ten meters over the original standard Dolphin, utilizing an Air Independent Propulsion, enabling the submarine to remain submerged for weeks, rather than days.