Israeli Navy Dolphin 2-class submarine INS Tanin
Israeli Navy Dolphin 2-class submarine INS Tanin

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems to Deliver Third Dolphin 2-class Submarine to Israel Navy This Year

The new Dolphin 2-class submarine ordered by the Israeli Navy is in a very advanced stage of construction in the thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (tkMS) shipyard in Kiel, Germany. The INS Drakon, or Dragon is scheduled for delivery later this year. TKMS went on to describe the Dakar as “a completely new design, which is to be specifically engineered to fulfill the operational requirements of the Israeli Navy.” The boat was originally planned to be named Dakar, after a vessel that mysteriously sank in 1968 with all of its crew on board. Although unconfirmed by either the German or Israeli government, rumor has it that the Drakon will be longer than previous boats of its class and may have new weapon capabilities, including a vertical launch system (VLS).

The Dolphin class is a diesel-electric submarine developed in Israel and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) in Kiel, Germany, for the Israeli Navy. The first boats of the class were based on the export-only German 209-class submarines, but modified and enlarged. The Dolphin 1 sub-class is slightly larger than the German Navy Type 212 in length and displacement. The three newer air-independent propulsion (AIP) equipped boats are similar to the Type 212 vessels in underwater endurance, but are 12 metres (39 ft) longer, nearly 500 tonnes heavier in submerged displacement and have a larger crew than either the Type 212 or the Type 214. The Dolphin 2 class submarines are the largest to have been built in Germany since World War II and the most expensive single vehicles in the Israel Defense Forces.

Israeli Navy Dolphin 2-class submarine INS Tanin
Israeli Navy Dolphin 2-class submarine INS Tanin. (Photo by Israel Defense Forces)

The Dolphin class replaced the aging Gal class, which had served in the Israeli navy since the late 1970s. Each Dolphin-class submarine is capable of carrying a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes and Popeye Turbo submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). The cruise missiles have a range of at least 1,500 km (930 mi) and are widely believed to be equipped with a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead containing up to 6 kilograms (13 lb) of plutonium. The latter, if true, would provide Israel with an offshore nuclear second-strike capability. The first batch of the class – the three Dolphin-I submarines – are set to be replaced by the newer Dakar-class submarines from 2031 onwards.

The Dolphin II-class submarines built by the German company thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (tkMS) are equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP). Two submarines of this advanced type have been delivered. INS Tanin (The name means “crocodile” in modern Hebrew, but can also mean the sea monster “tannin”) was launched in February 2012 in Kiel, Germany, and was delivered to the Israeli port city Haifa later that year, and entered service in 2014. INS Rahav (The name is Hebrew for Rahab, Name is from the Bible “Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through?” (isaiah 51)) was built in Kiel, Germany, and delivered to the Israeli port city Haifa 12 January 2016, where entered service the next day. Some of the systems of the Dolphin II-class submarines are installed in the German shipyard, but the highly classified ones will be installed in Israel after delivery.

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