By Luca Peruzzi
On 6 November, the Israeli MoD’s Department of Production and Procurement (DOPP) announced the signature of a framework contract worth 90 million shekel (€23,4 million) with Israel Shipyards. One of the largest privately-owned shipbuilding and repair facilities in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Haifa-located Israel Shipyards Ltd. (ISL) has been awarded two major programmes for the Israeli MoD and Navy: the first regards the design of the future “Reshef class” of advanced combat vessels to replace the over 20-years old SA’AR 4.5 missile patrol class platforms, the second being for the supply of a floating dock with its long-term support for the outfitting, maintenance and repair of Israeli Navy’ new classes of surface ships and submarines. EDR On-Line spoke of the important development of Israel Shipyards, not only for the Israeli MoD but also for international markets, with Eitan Zucker, managing director of the shipbuilding company, part of SK Group.
“Israel Shipyards is proud to continue to design and build operational vessels and marine installations for the Ministry of Defence and the Navy. We have been delivering combat vessels since the ‘70s, initially the SA’AR 4 and then SA’AR 4.5 class combatant platforms and later on the SHALDAG-class of fast patrol boats. The shipyard will continue to accompany and strengthen the Navy and provide it with everything it needs to fulfill its mission for the security of the State of Israel”, he said introducing the new shipbuilding programme. “We have received a basic and initial design contract, during which we will work together with the Israeli Navy to refine and satisfy the platform and combat system requirements for the new Reshef class of advanced combat vessel. The latter will be able to withstand the new and evolving threats and challenges the customer will face. This phase is expected to last over a year after which, based on negotiations and budget allocation, we expect to receive the construction contract in the late 2020-2021 year timeframe”, the managing director explained. “The new first-of-class platform could require 24-30 months to be build, depending on Israeli Navy’s platform and combat systems requirements”, he continued.
Based on the new ISL SA’AR S-72 multipurpose corvette, described as a “proven design”, the Reshef class vessels will significantly empower the Israeli Navy capabilities in future combat scenarios and will assist in protecting Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as the offshore oil & gas facilities within Israel’s territorial waters. “All combat systems on board the new ship will come from the Israel defence industry, both those already under production or development”, remarked the ISL managing director. The latter has provided only few details on the new class of vessels: “The new platform will be longer and with a higher displacement compared to the SA’AR S-72 design, its stern area being devoted to future modular payloads such as requested by the customer instead of the flight deck for a medium-size naval helicopter. The armament will include both surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles”, without adding more about both the SA’AR 72 and the new ship-rendering provided by the company; click here to link with the article titled: Israel shipyards competes for SA’AR 4.5 class replacement.
The preliminary design of the Reshef class showed by the computer-generated image portraits a vessel with a 76 mm main gun in the bow area, a superstructure block with the main mast accommodating sensors and communications antennas, an elevated area for weapon systems including two four-anti-ship missiles launchers and two remotely-controlled weapon stations (one for each side of the ship) for smaller caliber guns, and the smaller funnel block integrating two vertical launching systems for surface-to-air missiles. Between the main and smaller rear superstructures blocks, the rendering shows what resembles two launchers (one for each ship side) for Spike NLOS-type missile. The smaller rear superstructures block accommodates satellite communications antennas and two vertical launching systems for surface-to-air missiles. The C-Dome and the new generation Barak family of surface-to-air missile systems are potential candidates to equip the new ship. What appeared to be launchers for countermeasures are installed on top of the bridge and on the rear superstructure block. Moreover, a main multifunction radar resembling the IAI-Elta ELM-2258 Advanced Lightweight Phased Array (ALPHA) system is installed on the main mast top, allowing the management of both C-Dome and new generation family of Barak surface-to-air missiles.
The other major programme assigned to Israel Shipyards was the supply of the floating dock with a 10 years’ maintenance service. “This is the optimal solution for their needs, providing both operative mobility and the flexibility to be adapted to the challenging needs of the corps. We shall also provide dock support and maintenance services over the next ten years”, the ISL managing director explained. The new construction will be capable enough for the dry dock support activities connected, combat systems outfitting of the new SA’AR 6 corvettes being made upon arrival in the country. The new floating dock will not only support maintenance and overhaul activities for new surface vessels but also the in-service and future submarines to be acquired by Israeli Navy.
But the Israel Shipyards company is not only known for the corvettes and OPV classes of vessels but also for the SHALDAG-class of fast patrol craft, which family of platforms is in service with both Israeli and international customers. Asked about a potential interest by the Israeli Navy for new fast patrol craft, the managing director of ISL said that he expects to be more open in an incoming future meeting, “maybe 2-3 months”, he commented.
Speaking about the international markets, the ISL representative pointed out the whole range of products the shipyard has sold or is proposing, from the SHALDAG II, III, IV and V fast patrol boats family to the new 45 meters and 62 meters OPVs and SA’AR 72 multi-role corvette type. Asked about construction programme for export customers, he highlighted only in general recent achievements on the OPV segment in Cyprus and Honduras. “The new OPV for the latter customer will leave the shipyard in few days and will take few weeks to reach Honduras”. Elaborating on the new OPV 45 design platform unveiled for the first time at IMDEX 2019 in Singapore, “we are expecting to sign a first deal very soon”, he commented.
With a manufacturing and repair plant spreading over 330,000 sq. meters, with 45,000 sq. meters of under-roof facilities and a wharf length of 900 meters for both civil and naval programmes, Israel Shipyards has recently completed a Syncrolift facility with 3,000 tons of lifting capacity for ships long up to 100 meters and 18 meter wide, in addition to a total berthing area length of 1,000 meters with 12 meters of water depth.