The 1,227t/ 1,350 ton Sa’ar 5 Eilat Class corvettes were built by Northrop Grumman in the 1990s for about $260 million each. They’re decent performers in a number of roles: air defense, anti-submarine work, coastal patrol, and special forces support. In 2006, the Israelis went looking for a next-generation vessel with better high-end capabilities. Eight years later, Israel had nothing to show for its search. In the meantime, massive natural gas deposits have been discovered within Israel’s coastal waters, adding considerable strategic urgency.
The USA is Israel’s logical supplier, but given Israel’s size and cost requirements, the only American option was the Littoral Combat Ship. Israel pursued that option for several years, conducting studies and trying to get a better sense of feasibility and costs. Their approach would have been very different from the American Freedom Class LCS, removing the swappable “mission modules” and replacing them with a fixed and fully capable set of air defense, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons. In the end, however, LCS was deemed to be unaffordable. Instead, Israel began negotiating with Germany, and current reports include discussions involving South Korea and a local shipyard.