The German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) has signed today a contract to build four patrol corvettes for the Israeli Navy. Israel will pay €315 million of the €430 million contract, the remaining €113 million will be subsidized by the German Federal Government. Israel plans to use the new boats to protect the expanded Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) in the Eastern Mediterranean, where recent explorations discovered major oil and gas resources. The first new boat will be delivered in 2019, to follow with the other three over the next three years.
The Israeli Government approved the procurement of the new boats as part of the security measures protecting those assets in the Eastern Mediterranean. Those security measures would include an array of unmanned systems surveillance and security systems operating in the air, above and under water. “This contract signed today is a significant event, representing a major increase in the defensive capability of the Israeli Navy, protecting offshore strategic sites located tens and hundreds of kilometers offshore” said Maj. General (ret) Dan Harel, Director General of the Israel MOD.
As part of the agreement, the German Thyssenkrupp concern, the owner of TKMS, will expand its procurement in Israel, buying goods worth at a value over €150 million.
TKMS is offering two versions of patrol vessels – the 1,500 ton Meko class 80 ‘Patrol corvette’ which is also available in 1,900 and 2,100 ton versions, and the 87 m’ long 1,800 ton Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). In comparison, Saar V, the largest boat class currently in service with the Israeli Navy is 85 meter long and has a fully loaded displacement of 1,275 tons. The new Israeli boat to be designated Saar 6, will be a version of the K-130, a 2,000 ton class in service with the German Navy.
[/nonmember][ismember]Offshore patrol tasks often require long, routines missions at sea, providing surveillance and inspection activities in their patrol areas. While military vessels are designed primarily for combat operations, OPVs are equipped to carry out law enforcement by interdiction and arrest of suspects of illegal activities. Therefore, it is ready to engage hostiles in low-intensity combat, piracy or terrorist activities that could pose a threat to maritime security and the peaceful passage of trade. At the same time the OPV must always be capable of search and rescue and maritime disaster response. These tasks require ships that are designed for sustained blue-water operations and that are robust, reliable, simple to operate and easy to maintain.
The situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is more complex, as it involves combating in ‘hybrid warfare’ facing the risk of state-sponsored terrorism, from the Gaza strip and lebanon – including missile shore to offshore attacks and maritime attacks above and under water, directly specifically at the offshore facilities. Therefore, the Israeli vessels are likely to be equipped with the most advanced air defense systems, ensuring the necessary defense against Yakhont missiles operated by the Iranian sponsored Lebanese Hezbollah, or weapons launched from the Gaza strip.
The MEKO patrol corvettes designed by Blohm+Voss combine the fighting power of a corvette with the economy of an OPV ship platform. Its hull, machinery and outfitting. From a military perspective, the ship platform has been modified to incorporate naval features such as increased speed, signature reduction, damage control arrangements and helicopter operation. As the largest, most modern surface vessels to enter service with the Israeli Navy, the new boats are likely to receive a full complement of sensors, defensive and offensive systems, becoming the centerpiece of the Israeli Navy modernization program. The navy is also likely to consider acquiring modern naval helicopters to support these vessels as they become operational.[/ismember]
Depending on the type of engine used (combined diesels or diesel-gas turbine), the Meko Patrol Corvette can develop a speeds of up to 26 knots, but is also equipped with electrically powered motors propelling the vessel at a highly economical speed of 12 knots. At a speed of 14 knots the Patrol Corvette has the autonomous mission range of 4,500 nautical miles, representing a two-week mission endurance. The vessel is operated by a crew of 65, and has accommodations for 23 more. The boat has a helicopter deck supporting helicopters up to ten tons.