Official rendering of the Dakar-class submarine. (Photo credit: TKMS image.)
The Israeli Defense Ministry announced on 20 January that Tel Aviv has concluded a multi-billion dollar deal to purchase three advanced submarines from Germany.
Under the deal, Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems has agreed to build three diesel-electric submarines of the Dakar class for the Israeli navy for three billion euros ($3.4 billion).
The Israeli navy operates five German-built Dolphin class submarines, with a sixth still under construction in Germany.
The three Dakar submarines will replace three of the Dolphins. The agreement also includes construction of a training simulator in Israel and the supply of spare parts.
Tel Aviv also announced that the German government will cover part of the cost of the advanced submarines, which are expected to be delivered within nine years.
But the deal between Tel Aviv and Berlin was inked just days before the Israeli cabinet was set to discuss the formation of a panel to investigate the acquisition of submarines and other warships from ThyssenKrupp between 2009 and 2016, under then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last year, Israeli prosecutors charged several Israeli businessmen, as well as a former cabinet minister and a former navy commander, with bribery, money laundering and tax invasion in connection with deals from 2009 to 2016.
But while Netanyahu has not yet been named as a suspect in the scandal, he is currently on trial in three other corruption cases.
For their part, Thyssenkrupp has said an internal investigation found no evidence of corruption in its handling of the sales.
The expansion of Israel’s naval capabilities also comes amid reports that the Israeli occupation navy is among the weakest in West Asia.
According to an annual report published by Global Firepower, the Israeli navy ranks at number 44 among the world’s navies.
Meanwhile, Israel’s main regional rival, Iran, ranks at number 22. The Iranian navy also made headlines late last year after successfully confronting the US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf of Oman.