Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of $1.3 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday
The planned purchase aims to replace within the next decade the oldest submarines in its existing Dolphin fleet, which began entering service in 1999, the Maariv daily reported.
Contacted by AFP, the “Defense Ministry” declined to comment on the report.
The Maariv Israeli daily said the planned purchase aims to replace within the next decade the oldest vessels in its existing Dolphin fleet, which began entering service in 1999.
“The new submarines are said to be more advanced, longer, and equipped with better accessories,” Maariv said.
The deal is expected to be wrapped up next month in Berlin between senior officials who have secretly negotiated the details of the arrangement over the last months.
Israel already has five of the state-of-the-art German submarines, with a sixth due for delivery in 2017.
Foreign military sources and governments say the Dolphins can be equipped with missiles armed with nuclear warheads.
They believe Israel has between 100 and 200 warheads and missiles capable of delivering them.
The new submarines are said to be more advanced, longer, and equipped with better accessories, the newspaper added.
Israel will receive the new vessels over the next decade as it aims to upgrade its nearly 20 year-old Dolphin fleet, according to Maariv, which are said to be more advanced, longer and better equipped.
In 2013, the military received the INS Rahav, which was the most expensive weapon ever purchased by the country, and the fifth Dolphin-class submarine constructed for the Israel Navy.
According to foreign reports, the navy’s Dolphins provide Israel with nuclear second-strike capabilities, as they can travel far from Israel’s territorial waters and are reportedly able to carry long-range cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.
Among their many capabilities, submarines can launch conventional missile attacks on near and distant targets, fire torpedoes at various naval vessels and engage in intelligence-gathering.
The deal between Israel and Germany is expected to be signed by November 7.
In 2012 the influential German news weekly Der Spiegel quoted former high-ranking German defence ministry officials saying that Berlin always assumed Israel was putting nuclear warheads on the Dolphin-class vessels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office said at the time all submarines had been delivered to Israel unarmed.
“The federal government will not speculate on subsequent arming,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said then.