Israel Navy is preparing for the long-awaited arrival of its next generation of missile boats — giving it a powerful new tool to defend its strategic natural gas industry from the threat of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The first missile boat of “Project Magen” is scheduled to arrive by early December, with three more of the German-made corvettes scheduled to arrive over the next two years. The vessels, commonly known as the “Saar 6,” will be at the forefront of Israeli efforts to protect its 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Based on the German MEKO 100 patrol corvette, the Saar-6-class is designed to offer enhanced attack capabilities compared to its predecessor Sa’ar 5 class.
The Israeli Ministry of Defence placed an order with TKMS for four new patrol vessels in January 2015 and the order was finalised in May 2015.The cost of construction is estimated at $480m, of which two-thirds will be paid by Israel and the German Government will subsidise the remaining amount with the Dolphin-class submarines. The steel-cutting ceremony of the first ship was held in February 2018. The hull and superstructures of the ships will be built at TKMS’ shipbuilding facility in Kiel, Germany, while the outfitting of combat systems, sensors and other subsystems will be performed in Israel. The four corvettes were christened INS Magen, INS Oz, INS Independence and INS Victory in April 2018.
The corvette will have an overall length of 90m, a maximum beam of 13.2m and a height of 21.5m. The displacement of each corvette will be approximately 2,000t. It can accommodate up to 70 crew members. The hangar and helicopter deck at the stern can be used to accommodate a medium multi-mission maritime helicopter such as SH-60 Seahawk. The hull form of the Sa’ar 6-class warships is designed to reduce the ship’s radar cross-section and infrared signatures. Powered by a combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion system, the Saar-6-class corvettes will remain afloat at sea for a long duration. The CODAD propulsion system integrates two MTU diesel engines coupled with two controllable pitch propellers (CPPs).
The Sa’ar 6-class corvettes will be armed with a range of weaponry, including anti-air and anti-ship missiles, as well as machine guns. Each ship will carry 40 Barak 8 naval surface-to-air missiles amidships to intercept and destroy all types of airborne threats such as anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles, combat aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Up to two C-Dome naval point defence systems will be installed on the bow deck of each ship to defeat short-range rockets and artillery shells. The forward bow section will also be fitted with an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun mount, which offers a high rate of fire against air and surface targets. The armament will also include two torpedo launchers for MK54 Lightweight Torpedo and two 30mm Rafael Typhoon remote weapon stations.