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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Israeli Navy Supports Plans for New Submarine Acquisition

Defense News reported on April 19, 2017 that the Israeli Navy is behind the plan by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to acquire three new submarines for the Navy.

Quoting a senior officer in the Navy, Defense News reported the Navy wants the submarines "as fast as possible."

In November 2016, the Prime Minister's office as well as the Israeli Defense Forces confirmed that a decision had been made to order three more Dolphin-class submarines from German firm ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Shipyard (TKMS), at a cost of around $1.3 billion. These submarines, equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, will replace the initial three Dolphin-class submarines purchased in the 1990s.

"We pretty much know what we want. It basically will be the AIP Dolphin-class submarines, with some room for growth, with new materials, better sonar -- but pretty much the same design," said the Navy officer to Defense News.

The currently operates five submarines. Israel had ordered the fourth and fifth submarines back in 2006 as well as a sixth in 2011. The fourth and fifth submarines have been received while the last will be delivered in 2019.

The first three, ordered in the 1990s, will need to be replaced before they reach the end of their 30-year estimated lifespan, according to the Navy officer.

The new submarine deal for three more has generated a significant amount of controversy in Israel, as police have investigated into allegations of conflicts of interest in the proposed purchase. Defense News noted the negotiations for the latest submarine purchase were reportedly conducted without the active involvement of the Navy. Former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon opposed the sale and was later replaced.

Investigators have looked into whether the involvement of the Prime Minister's personal attorney, who also represents TKMS, demonstrates a conflict of interest in the sale.

Though the Navy is seemingly now backing the Prime Minister in the bid to acquire three more Dolphin class submarines, the sale has not yet been finalized.

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