Last week, the flag on the "Magen" ship (the "Shield" ship in English) was changed from a German flag to an Israeli flag. Within the coming year, three more Sa’ar 6 ships will be transferred to Israel from Germany.
The ship, which is supposed to arrive in December, will join the Israeli Navy’s fleet to reinforce the IDF’s naval superiority, with an emphasis on defensive capabilities for important strategic assets and on offensive capabilities that have never been seen before in the eastern Mediterranean.
About five years ago, ten engineers serving in the Israeli Navy were flown to Germany to take part in a special project. Their main mission was to return to Israel with brand new missile ships whose role would be to protect Israel’s strategic naval assets.
The mission was deemed necessary after valuable natural gas reserves were discovered within Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the early 2000s. Since 70% of the electricity in Israel today comes from natural gas produced by Israel's marine gas rigs, the discoveries called for a new way to protect Israel’s assets. Thus began the Israeli Navy’s initiative to bring new missile ships to Israel.
From the moment the Sa’ar 6 ship reaches Israel’s shores, the Israeli Navy will have to face the complex challenge of making the ship fully operational. Over 90% of the defensive systems that will be on the new Sa’ar 6 ships are Israeli-made combat systems.
Among the special operational capabilities of the new Israeli ships are:
-- Anti-Missile Systems and high-trajectory interception based on "Adir" radar systems:
According to assessments, terror armies (like Hezbollah and Hamas) in our region possess the ability to fire high-trajectory rockets of a wide range, that are able to reach the gas rigs. Because of this, it is highly important that the Israeli Navy’s missile boats have high-trajectory rocket and shore-to-sea missile interception systems, such as "Naval Dome" and LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device).
-- Sea-to-sea missile capability:
This missile system will have more accurate offensive capabilities, longer ranges, improved operational flexibility, and better capabilities to face advanced threats.
-- Greater ability to cover near and far surface areas:
The area of Israel’s EEZ more than twice that of Israel’s land territory. The Sa’ar 6 Corvettes will enable naval combat personnel to control the arena faster, and provide a high-quality defensive envelope even at a distance from a security threat.
-- Ability to remain at sea for extended periods of time:
The EEZ defense mission never stops. The Sa’ar 6 Corvettes can remain at sea for longer periods of time than the Israeli Navy’s existing missile boats, and therefore are able to create long-term defensive continuity.
-- The Sa’ar 6 Corvettes will possess air and surface target detection capabilities:
This will include a response to the existing threats from the air, target detection and wide battle space collection capabilities.
-- The ability to carry mid-size helicopters, such as the Seahawk:
The new Seahawk helicopters that will be used by Sa’ar 6 Corvettes will be powerful, and able to operate over long ranges and extended periods of time. In this fashion, the ships will be able to provide a comprehensive defensive envelope.
-- Multidimensional Communication interoperability with all IDF Networks:
The ship will be able to interact and initiate communication with other IDF branches and units.
The Commander of the Israeli Navy, Maj. Gen. Eli Sharvit: "The mission of defending Israel's Exclusive Economic Zone and strategic assets at sea is our primary security mission of the Israeli Navy. These assets are essential to the operational continuity of the State of Israel, and having the ability to protect them has a critical importance. The security needed to protect the EEZ is clear. The best protection method of that space and the assets in it is by ships, and the Sa’ar 6 Corvettes fulfill that operational need in a precise and excellent way.”