Israel Aerospace targets the warship market

IAI is developing a new missile carrying warship with powerful offensive capabilities for patrol operations on the high seas.

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) is developing a new missile carrying warship with powerful offensive capabilities for patrol operations on the high seas.

The ship, which will be called the Multirole Super Dvora (bee in Hebrew) is still on the drawing board at IAI Ramta plant in Beersheva. On the basis of the general features that Ramta general manager Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nitzan Shaked has provided "Globes", the Super Dvora will be the largest warship ever developed by IAI.

Ramta has dozens of years' experience in building small warships in close collaboration with the Israel Navy and other navies. It has built 120 naval vessels, including the Dabur (hornet), Dvora, and the Super Dvora. 80 of these ships have been sold to the navies of Sri Lanka, Chile, India, and other countries in Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

Ramta's future warship will be different from everything that it has built before, especially in terms of size and weight: it will be over 30 meters long and weigh scores of tons.

Shaked says that, notwithstanding the Super Dvora's ability to carry state-of-the-art missiles, the project's purpose is to provide potential customers around the world with a good naval platform that is cheaper than current products in the warship market. "The basic idea is to offer a ship with many more capabilities, while making sure that it will not be too expensive and too big. We're in the preliminary development stage of the ship, which will be based on the Dvora's lines and aerodynamics," he says.

All-weather capability

The Multirole Super Dvora is intended to carry various versions of IAI's Barak naval missile, advanced radar's developed by IAI unite Elta Systems, electo-optical systems for operating at night and in poor weather conditions, and anti-missile defense systems.

The new warship will be the next stage in the evolution of IAI's naval combat systems. The Dabur, a relatively small and slow patrol boat, evolved into the larger and faster Dvora, which evolved into the Super Dvora, a patrol boat that the Israel Navy continues to procure today.

In late September, IAI announced that the Ministry of Defense had ordered three more Super Dvora Mark III patrol boats for tens of millions of shekels. Ramta will deliver the first of the three ships this year and the next two ships at six month intervals.

Except for the engines, which will be built by Germany's MTU Aero Engines AG (DAX: MTU) at its US facility, the Multirole Super Dvora will be built entirely by Israeli defense companies. Elta will provide the radar systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. will provide its Typhoon cannon, and Orbit Technologies Ltd. (TASE:ORBI) will provide the communications systems.

"This is a good ship," says Shaked, who held command posts in the Navy until a few years ago. "It's hard for to see in the current market ships of this size, which can provide the Super Dvora Mk III with real competition. The Mk III is definitely one of the world's best ships in the marine patrol niche. It's a ship that was designed and built to the specifications set by the Navy and on the basis of accumulated experience in different versions over a long period."

The Ministry of Defense's order for the Super Dvora Mk III was a follow-on contract signed between IAI and the Ministry of Defense in 2006 for four ships of the same version, which were delivered ahead of time in 2010.

Combatting naval terrorism

The Israel Navy uses various versions of the Dvora for coastal patrol missions, with an emphasis on anti-terror operations. When the new ships are commissioned, the Navy will decommission the obsolescent Dabur patrol boats. The Navy will also use the new patrol boats to expand it area of operations to the high seas, in part to meet new challenges, such as protecting gas platforms in the Mediterranean.

IAI finds it hard to say whether the Navy will be among the customers for the Multirole Super Dvora, but says that, regardless, the big money for the venture will come from overseas. "The condition for this project to materialize is finding the means to finance it," says Shaked. "We're already in talks with several countries which have expressed an interest in the program and will want to procure the new platform in order to harness one of them as a partner in the venture. I hope that we'll succeed in reaching understandings and agreements in 2014. I believe that the chances that the program will be implemented are high."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 9, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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