Israel receives first of its new missile boats

Israel receives the first of its new missile boat, with a top naval officer telling AFP the fleet upgrade “dramatically” improves the country’s ability to counter regional rivals, including Iran.

The procurement of four naval vessels and three submarines from German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp has been the subject of long-running corruption probes involving top allies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But graft allegations aside, the ships themselves form a key part of a major naval upgrade in the Jewish state, Israel’s head of naval operations, Rear Admiral Eyal Harel, said in an interview last week.

Harel said the new fleet would bolster the navy’s capacity to defend increasingly lucrative offshore natural gas assets from rivals like Lebanon’s Shiite group Hezbollah, which receives backing from Iran.

Israeli sailors on board the Sa’ar-6-class corvette INS Magen salute as the vessel is handed over to the Israeli Navy in a ceremony in Germany on November 11, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

According to Harel, Israel’s offshore rigs “are the main objective on the Hezbollah target list for the next war.”

The vessels — Saar 6-class corvettes — are equipped with “the (most) sophisticated radar on board any vessel in the world,” he said.

The first Saar 6, the INS Magen, arrives at Haifa’s port on Wednesday.