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Middle East navies eye new submarines

A U-214-class submarine.
by Staff Writers
Tehran (UPI) Jul 17, 2009
Submarine warfare seems to be in vogue in the Middle East these days, with Israel leading the way. Iran, Algeria and Egypt are also planning to acquire new submarines that could operate in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Israel's surprise deployment of one of its German-built Dolphin boats, the 1,500-ton Leviathan, in the Red Sea in late June underscored the regional trend.

The Type-800 boat's highly visible transit from the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea was widely seen as a message to Tehran that the Israeli navy would participate in any pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Israel bought the Dolphins under a $1 billion contract in 2000 and wants to buy two more from Germany. That would allow it to keep at least one of its submarines, possibly even two, on patrol in the Arabian Sea from where cruise missiles, possibly nuclear-tipped, could be launched at targets in Iran.

The Israeli navy rarely discusses its submarine operations, but given the need to refuel and maintain them, there has been speculation for some time that Israeli is seeking a base in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean for its submarines.

Israel's relations with India and Sri Lanka are good. Israel is now India's second-ranking arms supplier after Russia. But diplomatic sources say it is unlikely that either would risk accommodating Israeli Dolphins.

Another possibility would be the Dahlak archipelago in the Red Sea off Eritrea, which owns the islands. The Soviet navy had a submarine base there, but it was abandoned after the Soviet Union collapsed.

In the meantime, Russian defense industry sources report that Iran, fearful of an Israeli attack, is thinking of buying advanced Russian submarines to add to its flotilla of three Kilo-class diesel-electric boats it acquired a decade ago from Moscow.

The focus is on Project 636- and Amur 1650-class submarines being developed by Russia. State-owned arms export agency Rosoboronexport said the fourth-generation diesel-electric boats, considered to be among the stealthiest in the world, could be exported by 2015.

Iran and Algeria appeared to be among the leading prospects. According to sources in Moscow, Algeria agreed in 2006 to buy Project 636 submarines, advanced versions of the Kilo-class Type 877EKM currently in service with Algeria and Iran.

Jane's Navy International reported July 8 that Algeria will take delivery of the first of two Project 636 subs in December from Admiralty Shipyards of St. Petersburg.

A spokesman for Russia's Rubin Design Bureau said during the recent International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg that Egypt was also considered a possible customer for the new Kilos. Egypt operates four Romeo-class Soviet-era submarines.

Turkey, a major military power at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, signed a deal for the purchase of six European submarines on June 2.

Under the $3.5 billion contract, the Turkish navy will co-manufacture U-214-class submarines with a consortium headed by Howaldswerke-Deutsche Werft of Kiel, Germany, which builds the Dolphin boats used by Israel.

Turkey currently has 13 German-built submarines, six Atilay-class Type 209/1200s and seven Preveze/Gur Type 209/1400s.

Libya operates two Soviet-era Foxtrot-class submarines, but it is not known if these are operational. The only other Arab state with submarines is Syria, but none of its three Soviet-era boats has left port for many years.

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India's nuclear-powered submarine ready
New Delhi (UPI) Jul 13, 2009
If all goes as planned, India, according to various reports, will soon join the exclusive club of nations with their own domestically built nuclear-powered submarines, marking a giant leap for its naval defense. More than 20 years in the making and until now known only as the Advanced Technology Vehicle project, the Indian navy's new nuclear-powered submarine named INS Chakra is ... read more

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