Submarines: February 27, 2003

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The Israeli navy wants to buy two more German built Dolphin class submarines. Israel received three of these subs between 1999 and 2000, and promptly supplied them with cruise missiles that could be fired from the torpedo tubes. The long range cruise missiles are thought to carry nuclear warheads. The cruise missiles were tested in the Indian Ocean using a base in Sri Lanka. Israel provided substantial military assistance to Sri Lanka in the recent war against Tamil rebels on the island. Getting those basing rights was apparently part of the deal. Israel seems to feel that eventually Iran will get nuclear weapons and long range missiles and submarine launched nukes will provide a deterrent to any Iranian thoughts of launching a nuclear first strike. By stationing a sub in the Red sea, and one or two in the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean, the Iranian threat would be reduced. But three subs are not enough, because of the need for maintenance and moving the subs from Israel to their distant patrol areas. Five subs would do the job. However, these subs cost about $400 million each and Israel can't afford two of them just now. The Israelis managed to get the Germans to "donate" the first three in the wake of Israel's restraint during the 1991 Gulf War and continuing German guilt over the death of Israeli athletes (at the hands of Palestinian terrorists) during the 1972 Olympics (held in Germany). These days, the Germans are more pro-Palestinian, but the Israelis are still hoping to score some creative financing.

 


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