Finland Stealth Boats to Get Israel’s Gabriel Advanced Naval Attack Missiles

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Hamina Class FAC in Finnish Navy service.

Finland has selected Israel’s Advanced Naval Attack Missile to replace its current MTO85M system, a derivative of Swedish RBS15 that will reach the end of its life cycle in the 2020s. IAI’s Gabriel has beaten four other competitors evaluated by Finland’s MOD, including Kongsberg’s NSM, MBDA’s Exocet, Boeing’s Harpoon and Saab’s RBS15. The initial contract is worth EUR162 million, with an option worth EUR 193 million.

IAI Gabriel 5 Advanced Naval Attack Missile is heading to Finland next year, replacing RBS15 on the Hamina-class missile boats and future Squadron 2020 corvettes. Image: IAI

The selection of Israel’s Advanced Naval Attack Missile marks an important achievement for IAI, representing the first sale of such strategic system to a European Navy. Also known as Gabriel 5, the weapon is the latest member of a family of naval attack missiles developed by IAI. Little is known about the weapon, that is believed to be operational on Israel Navy missile boats and with some foreign navies.

With a size roughly as the American Harpoon and French Exocet, the Israeli missile covers longer ranges and can complete its mission even in a highly restrictive environment. Using a modern and advanced active radar seeker and a sophisticated weapon control designed to overcome target selectivity problems, the system achieves very high operational effectiveness, particularly in littoral waters. As such it is optimized for operation in congested waters, and under heavy electronic warfare and against sophisticated countermeasures, typical of scenarios that might be encountered in the Baltic Sea. The missile has an estimated range of 200-400 km and, according to some reports, a version of the missile is equipped with a two-way datalink. According to the Finnish MOD, the missile will also be usable from vehicular platforms on land and against land targets.

As an advanced attack missile, Gabriel 5 could penetrate the target’s protection, both soft- and hard-kill defenses. It was designed with sophisticated electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) dealing with chaff, advanced decoys, and active ECM. Gabriel 5 and Barak 8 were described as part of a combined, offensive and defensive system suite built by IAI’s Missiles and Space division for the Israeli navy and for export.

The main selection criteria weighed the weapon’s performance along with acquisition costs and schedule, lifecycle costs and security of supply. Compatibility with existing infrastructure and defense system was also considered.

The new missile will be installed on existing Hamina-class missile boats and the new Squadron 2020 vessels, the first will be launched in 2019. The Hamina is undergoing a midlife upgrade program lead by Patria. The SMM2020 will also be installed on a vehicle platform, introducing a first known coastal defense variant for the Gabriel. Deliveries will start in 2019 and continue through 2025. The Finnish Navy is expected to maintain the new missile in service for a period of 30 years. The purchase will include launchers, missiles, simulators, test equipment, spare parts, and training. The SSM2020 will be maintained in Finland.