Few will dispute that the Air Force is the jewel in the Israeli military crown. But there’s another section of the IDF that is playing an increasingly critical role amid shifting geo-political realities and a mounting “shadow war” with Iran, and that is Israel’s submarine fleet.
For decades, Israel’s submarine fleet conducted primarily classic intelligence gathering missions. The subs could get in and out of far-away places without being noticed.
But of late, “the IDF realized we could do so much more,” an Israel Navy official told the N12 news portal.
The details of what the Israeli submarines are up to remains classified, of course. What is known is that they are operating far from Israel’s shores, and earlier this month Iran charged that at least 14 of its ships in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea had been attacked by Israeli forces. If true, and Israel’s not officially taking responsibility, then submarines were almost certainly involved.
Gathering intelligence also remains a big part of the submarines’ role, but they can do more than just sit and listen. It was suggested in the N12 report that Israeli subs had been used to transport forces and individuals to and from far-away enemy territory.
“We are operating right under the enemy’s feet,” said the Navy, making the submarines not only a tactical asset, but a strategical one that gives Israel a degree of naval superiority over its regional foes.
This has not gone unnoticed by other branches of the military, and Navy officials told N12 that there is growing demand for joint operations with the submarine fleet. So much so that they can’t keep up.
To remedy that situation, Israel will add a sixth submarine to its fleet in the coming years. The vessel is currently under construction in Germany, from which Israel purchases all of its submarines.
In 10-years time, Israel is expected to replace at least half of its aging “Dolphin” class fleet with newer, more advanced and far larger submarines. The need to expand and modernize this secretive, yet powerful force is becoming more clear by the day.