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In Israel APDR spoke with submariner Vice Admiral
David Ben-Bashat (Rtd), the Chief of the Israeli Navy
from 2004 to 2007. Discussion was also held with
a to-remain-anonymous serving Dolphin submarine
command qualified officer.
The primary purpose of the IDF is to defend the
existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the
State of Israel.
Israel is 114 km at its widest point, shrinking to
15 km at its narrowest. Modern Israel is bounded
to the north by Lebanon, the northeast by Syria,
the east by Jordan and the West Bank, and to the
southwest by Egypt.
To the west is the Mediterranean Sea. The
country only has 273 km of coastline, which
includes a small portion along the Red Sea. It has
12 nautical miles of territorial seas and claims an
Exclusive Economic Zone.
Since Israel was formed in 1947 the country has
been involved in numerous civil and external wars. It
is reasonable to say that the country has been in a
continuous state of tension when not at war.
Flowing from that, the IDF takes its role very
seriously. Israel has one of the highest ratios of
defence spending to GDP in the world and has one
of the most battle-hardened forces in existence.
The Israeli surface navy consists of corvettes,
missile boats and patrol boats.
The Navy has two classes of submarines: three
Dolphin I class and two new Dolphin II Class - with
a third boat on its way. They are capable of anti-
submarine, anti-ship, mine laying, Special Forces
operation and land strike. The boats are fitted with
the ISUS 90 Combat System and carry DM2A3
and DM2A4 torpedoes, UGM-84 Harpoons and
mines. Each boat has 10 tubes; six 533 mm and
four larger tubes capable of launching Israeli Popeye
standoff missiles. The Dolphin II is larger than the
Dolphin I and has some improvements in capability,
the starkest being a fuel cell based Air Independent
The submarines are also reported to carry nuclear
cruise missiles, providing Israel with a second strike
Both Dolphin classes were built in Germany.
The Dolphins have deployed as far as the Indian
Ocean - missions supposedly targeted at Iran, and
were rumoured to be operating off the Sudan during
air strikes conducted by the Israeli Air Force in
December 2011. They also reportedly conducted a
land strike operation on the Syrian port of Latakia In
The TKMS built Dolphin boats follow three T
Class submarines procured from the British and
the modified Type 206 ‘Gal’ Class built by Vickers
in the UK (for political reasons). Although the boats
were built by the British, the Gal class saw the Israeli
submarine force develop a healthy relationship with
the Germans. The Gals served the IN from 1976 to
2002, a few years after the first Dolphins arrived on
The requirement for a Gal replacement was born
in the 80s. The Israelis initially examined both Dutch
and German options with a view that the boats
would be built in the US by Ingalls with US funding.
Interestingly, whilst the submarine was to be Dutch
or German, the combat system was to be a US
one. The project under which this was to occur
was cancelled in 1990. Of course, the requirement
for a new submarine did not abate and the Israelis
continued discussion, for reasons of capability,
with the Germans. When the Gulf War broke out
funding for the submarine program was re-directed
to a Patriot missile capability. At this point the
German Chancellor Kohl stepped in and approved an
assistance package for the construction of two boats.
The third was paid for by the Israelis.
Admiral Ben-Bashat stated that dealing with the
Germans was very straightforward; “it was hard to
reach final agreement with them, but once agreement
was reached they stuck to it 100%”. The Dolphin’s
cemented an already good submarine partnership
between the two countries. The Admiral talked
of a “harmony of knowledge” that underpins the
relationship. He made the point that it involved a two
way exchange to the absolute benefit of both parties;
the Germans benefited from Israelis necessary
operational focus and demand for high capability
whilst the Israeli’s benefited from the German’s
rigorous engineering and risk analysis.
On contract signature, co-operation started
instantly with the Israelis embedding themselves in
the TKMS teams at Kiel and with Atlas Elektronik in
Bremen. Platform information was shared to the extent
that the IN can now do everything by themselves
and it is noted that the source code for the combat
system is retained and modified in Israel without the
need to consult the ISUS-90 team in Bremen.
The delivery of the Dolphin I submarines was
in accordance with the contract; with any cost of
schedule variations a result of agreed changes to the
INS Kilo Class. Credit: Wikipedia / www.losbarcosdeeugenio.com/
31/03/2016 6:45 PM
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