Photo Credit: IDF
A Sa'ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.

Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.

The Israeli Navy in May 2015 ordered four Sa’ar 6-class corvettes, loosely based on the German Braunschweig-class corvette, but with engineering changes that make the baseline platform more robust for military use. The vessels are being built in Germany in a joint project by German Naval Yards Holdings and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The first of the four is scheduled to enter service in 2019. Construction costs are estimated at $480 million, with Israel paying for two-thirds of and the German Government subsidizing one third – the same deal as the one reached over the Dolphin class submarines.

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According to the announcement, the transactions include a wide range of interception systems, electronic warfare, command and control, software components, communications and navigation systems. Production is slated for completion to be completed by the time the first boat reaches Israel in 2019.

The Defense Ministry’s Procurement Manager insisted that the vast majority of combat systems to be installed in the warships be made by Israeli corporations. The move is designed to inject large procurement budgets into the defense industries and preserve hundreds of jobs. As part of the huge deal, the Ministry is weighing the purchase of Barak 8, dubbed the “naval iron dome.”

Petah Tikva-based Astronautics won the tender to develop and supply a navigation data distribution system for the Sa’ar 6. According to the tender, the company will develop a system that will harvest navigation data using sensors to be installed in the warships and use unique software to process the information and provide optimal navigation data for different units onboard the ships.

Rafael won the tender to develop communications systems for the warships’ internal and external connections.

One of the multiple police investigations into alleged corruption in the Netanyahu government—”File 3000″—deals with claims that the bid for the purchase of the four Sa’ar 6 warships was tailored to fit the bid by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has testified in a police interrogation on this matter some two months ago.

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