Dolphin-class subs and SLCMs can build an Israeli undersea shield

TEL AVIV, ($1=3.13 Israeli Shekels) – The Israeli government is negotiating with Germany for the supply of three new diesel-electric submarines under the advanced Dolphin 2 project, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing the Defense Express.

Dolphin-class subs and SLCMs can build an Israeli undersea shield
Photo credit: The Times of Israel

European sources say that if the negotiations are successful, Israel will start receiving new submarines in 2027 to replace three Dolphin submarines.

Dolphin-powered diesel-electric submarines are based on type 212 submarines and are the largest submarines built in Germany since World War II. According to the World Tribune, these Israeli submarines are the most expensive single military vehicle in the entire Israeli army. Before Israel put Dolphin-class submarines into service, Tel Aviv relied on the combat capability of Gal-class submarines.

The Israeli navy has three Dolphin submarines, each of which can take on board up to five Popeye Turbo cruise missiles fired through 650 mm caliber torpedoes. A Popeye Turbo submarine launched cruise missile [SLCM] has a range of 1,500 km or nearly 930 miles.

According to some reports, Israel may use Popeye Turbo cruise missiles as a carrier of nuclear weapons, although Israel has never officially acknowledged the existence of nuclear warheads. According to GlobalSecurity.org, a Popeye Turbo missile can carry a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead containing up to 6 kilograms (13 lb) of plutonium.

Dolphin-type submarines also serve as a kind of “underwater missile shield” for Israel to deter Iran. Hoping to acquire three new submarines, Israel is sending a clear signal that Tel Aviv will want to build greater nuclear deterrence against Iran and provide an even more effective submarine missile shield.

What Israel is looking for according to the known tactical and technical characteristics of submarines under the Dolphin project is:

  • water replacement – 1450 tons surface, 1840 tons underwater;
  • body length – 56.3 meters;
  • crew – 30 people;
  • speed and range – 12 knots above water, 20 knots under water, up to 50 days;
  • armament – four 650 mm torpedoes, four 533 mm torpedoes, up to 16 torpedoes, and up to five Popeye Turbo cruise missiles or Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

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