The new submarines have a dramatically different capability from the existing ones in terms of their propulsion systems,” a security official tells IsraelDefense.
This comes on the heels of recent publications about Israel and Germany agreeing to the construction of a sixth submarine for the Israeli navy’s fleet of three active submarines.
The reports say the deal was almost closed, during German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière’s last visit to Israel. A previous contract, following the Second Lebanon War, was between Israel and two German companies-Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft of the city of Kiel and Thyssen Nordseewerke of the city of Emden—for the construction of two additional Dolphin submarines. The navy expects these vessels will be delivered by 2013-2014.
According to international sources, the submarines provide a second-strike capability. The upgraded Dolphin will be able to remain underwater for weeks—longer than the maximum submersion time of the submarines currently in the navy’s service.
The Dolphins, based on the German A212 submarine, weigh 1,900 tons and equipped with ten launchers for torpedo missiles. Reports also claim that Israel has modified the Dolphin’s 650mm torpedo to launch cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.
Air-independent propulsion (AIP) is a term that encompasses technologies which allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen. The term usually excludes the use of nuclear power, and describes augmenting or replacing the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels. The United States Navy uses the hull classification symbol "SSP" to designate boats powered by AIP, while retaining "SS" for classic diesel-electric attack submarines.
AIP is usually implemented as an auxiliary source. Most such systems generate electricity which in turn drives an electric motor for propulsion or recharging the boat's batteries. The submarine's electrical system is also used for providing "hotel services"—ventilation, lighting, heating etc.—although this consumes a small amount of power compared to that required for propulsion.
Torpedo Tube Launched Tomahawk Cruise Missiles
BGM-109A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile - Nuclear (TLAM-A) TTL with a W80 nuclear warhead.
Operational range........Block III TLAM-C, Block IV TLAM-E - 900 nmi (1,000 mi; 1,700 km) Block III TLAM-D - 700 nmi (810 mi; 1,300 km)
W80 (nuclear warhead)
The W80 is a small thermonuclear warhead (fusion weapon) in the enduring stockpile with a variable yield of between 5 and 150 kt of TNT.......It was designed for deployment on cruise missiles and is the warhead used in the majority of nuclear-armed US Air Force ALCM and ACM missiles, and their US Navy counterpart, the BGM-109 Tomahawk...... It is essentially a modification of the widely deployed B61 weapon, which forms the basis of most of the current US stockpile. The very similar W84 warhead was used on the BGM-109G Gryphon GLCM.
Nuclear weapons and Israel
It is believed that Israel had possessed an operational nuclear weapons capability by 1967, with the mass production of nuclear warheads occurring after the Six-Day War....Although no official statistics exist, it has been estimated that Israel possesses from 75 to as many as 400 nuclear weapons, which are reported to include thermonuclear weapons in the megaton range. Israel is also reported to possess a wide range of different systems, including neutron bombs, tactical nuclear weapons, and suitcase nukes....Israel is believed to manufacture its nuclear weapons at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, a highly secretive nuclear installation located near Dimona.
Delivery mechanisms include Jericho intercontinental ballistic missiles, with a range of 11,500 km, and which are believed to provide a second-strike option. Israel's nuclear-capable ballistic missiles are believed to be buried so far underground that they would survive a nuclear attack.Additionally, Israel is believed to have an offshore nuclear second-strike capability, using submarine launched nuclear-capable cruise missiles, which can be launched from the Israeli Navy's Dolphin-class submarines.