Israel Navy mulls building ships locally
Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 1, 2009
Due to rising production costs, the Israel Navy is shelving a long-held plan
to purchase the Lockheed Martin-built Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in favor of
a German-designed and Israeli-built corvette.
The Navy had been eying the LCS for several years. In 2008, it submitted a
Request for Proposal (RFP) to the Pentagon to ascertain the price of the
ship after a $5 million feasibility study to see whether the ship could meet
Israeli needs and could be integrated with Israeli-manufactured systems.
A top Navy officer told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the LCS's
rising cost had forced the Navy to look into alternative options for the two
missile ships it had received a budget to procure under the IDF's current
multi-year plan. The price tag on the LCS jumped from $220 million to close
to $400 million, and according to Navy estimates, could currently be as high
as $600 million each.
While the plan has not yet been approved by the General Staff, the Navy is
working on another concept: having the 2,000-ton ship designed by the German
company Blohm and Voss and built at the Israel Shipyards in Haifa. Israel is
currently having two Dolphin-class submarines built in Germany.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which is being considered as the lead
integrator for the project, already builds some of the Navy's small vessels,
such as the Dvora-class fast attack patrol boat. However, this would however
be the first time an Israeli shipyard built larger-scale missile ships.
Blohm and Voss are the manufacturers of the Meko family of warships, which
include small corvettes and large frigates. The design would be similar to
the existing Israeli Sa'ar-5 class ship but would be slightly larger to
enable it to carry the massive Elta-made Adir radar, which is capable of
providing an extensive over-the-horizon radar view.
"The design is based on an existing ship model," the officer said. "The
challenge will be to make a relatively small ship large enough to carry
everything we need, including the radar system."
The ship will be capable of carrying Special Forces and larger infantry
units as well as mid-size vehicles alongside at least one helicopter. The
ship will also be equipped with the anti-ship Harpoon Missile as well the
Barak anti-missile defense system.
The new proposal will be brought in the coming months to IDF Chief of
General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi for approval. Once approved, Navy
sources said it would take close to a decade to complete the construction of
the two ships.