Israel isn’t the first country that comes to mind when one thinks of naval exporters, but it has enjoyed success in one limited field: patrol craft. Its Dvora family, whose largest Mk.III boats are 90 feet long and just 70t, has been sold beyond Israel to Eritrea, Gambia, India, Paraguay, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan. Taiwan fitted its boats with missiles, but otherwise, the Dvoras have been a gunboat class.
Israel’s frigate plans are in limbo, but the country needs to move fast in order to protect its recently-discovered offshore natural gas fields against stated threats from Turkey and Syria. They’ve just ordered another 3 Super Dvora Mk.IIIs to that end, while IAI reconsiders the class’ status as a mere gunboat…
Contracts & Key Events
Oct 11/13: MSD. UPI reports that IAI Ramta is soliciting international interest in a 96-foot Multirole Super Dvora variant, which would add an “advanced” IAI radar and Barak anti-aircraft missiles to the boat’s standard Typhoon RWS and crewed weapons.
UPI’s radar reference is vague, but note that the high-end MF-STAR/ ALPHA advanced radars are intended for corvettes and larger ships. MSD fast boats are still in the preliminary design stage, but their stated size means that the on-board radar is much more likely to be the smaller and simpler EL/M-2221 STGR.
Even so, it’s an interesting choice. RAFAEL’s Typhoon remotely-operated naval guns (up to 30mm, usually 25mm) can already add Spike anti-armor (Typhoon GS) or very short-range anti-aircraft missiles (Typhoon GSA). The next step up from gunboats usually involves anti-ship missiles, making them dangerous to larger ships. Adding Barak-1 missiles instead would produce a ship that tops out at defeating other fast attack boats, while prioritizing aircraft and missile threats. That kind of move could make tactical sense for Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean, but we’d be interested to see which other countries would value that emphasis. The Republic of Cyprus, perhaps? Sources: UPI, “IAI seeks foreign investors to develop new missile warship”.
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Sept 29/13: +3 for Israel. The Israeli Navy orders 3 more Super Dvora Mk.III fast patrol boats, which will bring its fleet to 7.
The 90-foot, 70t boats can hit 45 knots in dashes, or travel 1,000 miles at cruising speed. Endurance is around 4 days, but can be longer with at-sea replenishment. Power is provided by a pair of Detroit Diesel MTU 12V-4000 engines, which drive a pair of Kamewa waterjets or ASD steerable screws. Weapons include a RAFAEL Typhoon remotely-operated, stabilized cannon turret with its accompanying sensors, and a pair of crewed weapon stations.
So far, Mk.III sales are limited to Israel and Sri Lanka, but IAI states that:
“Currently, the Super Dvora Mk 3 is being evaluated for use in several countries for protection of strategic facilities within their EEZ, and as a countermeasure against any hostile marine activity.”
Time will tell if they can turn those evaluations into sales. Sources: IAI Super Dvora MKIII | IAI release, Sept 29/13.