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Israel’s homeland security does not begin at the country’s borders. To avoid some existential threats, Israel has a very long arm. One “finger” on that arm: is the “Dolphin model 216” submarine. We present the first details about the capabilities of this special submarine.
By Ami Dor- on
The Dolphin model 216 will have a cruising range without refueling of 19 300 km and according to foreign media reports it is capable of sailing for 80 days without returning to its base.
The length of the submarine, currently under construction, reaches 89 m, nearly the length of a football field. For means of comparison and proportions – the length of American’s “Nautilus”, the world’s first nuclear submarine which began operating in the fifties of the last century, was 97 m.
Many in Israel and around the world tend to assume that the Air Force is the operational arm meant to protect Israel from an enemy attack – nuclear or conventional. However, very few realize that the real strategic arm of Israel is its fleet of Dolphin class submarines manufactured by German shipyards. These submarines are capable according to foreign press reports, of launching cruise missiles at enemy targets. In simple words, and according to what is written in professional publications in the world, it can be concluded clearly that these Israeli submarines provide Israel with a “second strike capability.”
The fact that the Israeli Navy operates “Dolphin” type submarines was disclosed in early 1998. At first there were three such submarines. They were not identical, not in size nor in operational capabilities.
The real “Jump” came when Israel ordered the 216 type which according to foreign media claims is “almost a nuclear submarine.”
The 216 type is equipped with six 53 mm torpedo tubes and another four launchers with a diameter of 65 mm. According to “Janes Defense” these capabilities enable the submarine to scatter mines and launch cruise missiles , both with conventional and nuclear warheads.
According to the federation of America scientists (FAS) the “Dolphin” can launch “Popeye Turbo” cruise missiles which were developed by Rafael.
One capability of the new submarine was not fully exposed. Images taken in the German shipyard show its propeller covered.
According to experts the number of blades of the propeller can result in a decrease of the “bubbling” noise it creates giving the submarine more of a stealth capability.