Israel’s Nuclear Capable U-boats

There's no clearer sign of change than the Israeli navy taking delivery this month of a German-built submarine on the same day the German defense ministry announced plans to acquire Israeli-built drones.

Who would have imagined the Jewish state sailing with German-built U-boats and the German Luftwaffe flying Israeli-built aircraft?

Actually it's been going on for several years, as pointed out earlier in Political Insider, and the two governments and their defense establishments have been close allies, but never so visibly as when the INS Rahav sailed into Haifa this week.

It is actually the fifth Dolphin class sub  — and second in the advanced AIP version — in the Israeli Navy; the German government paid about one third of the ship's $500+ million cost.  A sixth sub is under construction.

It reportedly is capable of firing nuclear-armed, Israeli-made cruise missiles from its torpedo tubes, giving Israel a second strike nuclear capability. In addition to its crew of 25 it can also carry 10 commandos for special operations.

Conventionally powered, it is capable of staying submerged for weeks at a time and operating with greater range, depth and stealth than most if not all non-nuclear subs today.

Foreign media report Israeli subs are frequent visitors to the Persian Gulf to keep an eye on Iran and may possibly have a base in the Indian Ocean.  With a reported nuclear capability they are there to gather intelligence and act as a deterrent.

As the Rahav sailed from Germany's Kiel shipyard for Israel, the German defense ministry announced the army will lease between three and five Heron TP drones from Israel Aerospace Industries. Delivery is scheduled for 2018.  Germany already has three earlier versions of the Heron, which are deployed in Afghanistan, Israel Hayom reported.

Plans call for leasing the drones instead of purchasing them because Germany and a European consortium are designing and developing their a home-grown version.  Israel was a pioneer – the name also given an early drone – in the development of remotely piloted vehicles, and was in fact flying them in combat in the 1982 Lebanon war, years before the United States deployed its first operational drones.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.