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article imageGermany to sell four new Sa’ar corvettes to Israel

By Karen Graham     Dec 27, 2014 in World
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel was purchasing four new Saars-class Corvettes from Germany. Dubbed "the Son of Saars," the next generation vessels are for the protection of Israel's offshore gas fields.
Netanyahu announced the purchase of the warships at a graduation ceremony of IAF pilot cadets at the Hatzerim Air Base, near Beersheba, saying "I am pleased to announce that three days ago we added an important component to our defensive force. We purchased four new Saar vessels."
"The State of Israel is building our defense force year by year, from decade to decade, with planes, submarine, air defense systems like Iron Dome and the Arrow missile, and with some of the most sophisticated offensive weapons in the world," he said.
Earlier in December, Germany's Bild am Sonntag reported that Berlin will be paying €115 million toward the cost of the ships. Netanyahu said the vessels will be joining the four German-made Dolphin-class submarines already in service. A fifth submarine is expected to be delivered in 2015 while a purchase agreement for a sixth submarine was formulated earlier this year. Netanyahu also made it a point to thank Chancellor Angela Merkel "for her commitment and constant assistance to our security."
On October 14, it was reported that in 2006, Israel started looking for a next-generation vessel to the Sa’ar 5 Eilat Class corvettes built by Northrop Grumman in the 1990s. At that time, they were selling for around $260 million each. Israel wanted something similar, but with better capabilities. But by 2012, six years of searching had come to naught.
Known oil and gas fields in the Levant Basin
Known oil and gas fields in the Levant Basin
US Energy Information Administration
During that time period, massive gas deposits had been discovered off the Israeli coast, and this made the need for warships for defense of coastal waters all the more urgent. With the U.S. being the logical supplier, it came down to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as the best option to meet Israel's size and cost requirements. But with time becoming critical, and feasibility studies showing the project would not be affordable, Israel started looking at Germany and South Korea.
The discovery of the huge gas reserves in the Tamar and Leviathan fields has the potential to change Israel's energy status, economy, and diplomatic standing. And while diplomatic ties have improved with Greece and Cyprus, Syria and Turkey have apparent hostile intentions toward Israel.
There have already been "irregular" threats to the country's drilling operations, and rig owners have been working with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to counter terrorist threats. Israel's greater fear is that Hezbollah has proven their capabilities using long-range surface-launched naval missiles, and the coastal gas platforms could be targeted. Netanyahu has reiterated the stance that Israel has on terror threats to the country, and the addition of the warships will add to the protection of the gas fields.
More about Israel, Warships, Germany, Dolphjn class submarines, Tamar and Leviathan gas fields
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