Israel is set to significantly improve its naval capability after the German government agreed to subsidise a third of the $700 million cost of a sixth submarine. The Israeli Navy already operates three Dolphin class vessels, based on the German Type 212 design, and has two more under construction in Germany with deliveries scheduled for 2012 and 2013.

The new submarines are 10m longer than the initial batch to accommodate an AIP system. Their weapons capability, and in particular whether they possess long-range strike missiles, is a subject of some speculation.

A larger submarine fleet will allow the strategically beneficial option of basing some of them at the Red Sea port of Eilat and within reach of the Arabian Gulf, rather than being effectively confined to the Mediterranean. Germany donated Israel’s first two submarines after the first Gulf War and shared the cost of the third. The heavy discount arrangement is a partial reparation forthe Holocaust.

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