In the early 1980s, the Israeli Navy awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (formerly Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding) to supply three Sa’ar 5 Class corvettes for the Israeli Navy. The first of class, INS Eilat, was launched in February 1993, followed by INS Lahav in August 1993 and INS Hanit in March 1994.
In July 2006, while taking part in the Israeli Navy blockade of Lebanese ports, INS Hanit was struck by an anti-ship missile fired by Hezbullah. Four crew members were killed. A fire resulted from the attack and the ship was able to return to Ashdod port under its own power. Following repairs, the vessel was reported to have resumed its combat role in August 2006.
Command and control systems
The unified combat system is integrated by IAI (Israel Aircraft Industries) MBT division, with Elbit (combat data systems) and Tadiran (communications systems) as major subcontractors. The ship’s combat system provides multiple offensive and defensive capabilities. Target, weapon status, and threat evaluation information is available to all fire control and launcher systems via the ship’s databus.
El-Op’s MSIS electro-optic surveillance and fire control system is fitted on the Eilat, which contains an 8–12-micron thermal imager, TV camera and laser rangefinder. El-Op received a contract in January 2003 to upgrade the MSIS. The upgraded system will include a new third-generation thermal imager with increased sensitivity and resolution.
Barak and harpoon missiles
The ship’s anti-air capability is based on the Barak missile system developed by IAI and Rafael. Two 32-cell vertical launch systems are installed on the raised gun deck at the bow of the ship. The range of the Barak missile is 10km and it is armed with a 22kg warhead. It also has an anti-surface target capability.
The ship has two four-cell Boeing Harpoon missile launchers. The Harpoon surface-to-surface missile has a range of up to 130km. The speed is high subsonic and the warhead weighs 227kg.
The ship’s short to medium-range anti-ship missile is the IAI Gabriel II. There are eight launchers for the Gabriel II missile which uses dual mode semi-active and active radar homing with a 100kg warhead. The range is from 6km to 36km and missile velocity is 0.6 Mach.
The ship is equipped either a Raytheon / General Dynamics mk15 Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) or Oto Melara 76mm gun.
Phalanx has a 20mm gun which can fire at 3,000 rounds/min and Ku-band search and tracking radar. Range is 1.5km.
Alliant Techsystems mk46 torpedoes
The ship is fitted with six 324mm mk32 torpedo tubes for ATK (Alliant Techsystems) mk46 torpedoes which have active and passive homing. They are armed with a 44kg warhead and range is 24km. The launch tubes are mounted in the superstructure about halfway along the length of the ship.
Airborne anti-submarine warfare capability is provided by the ship’s helicopter. The ship’s helicopter hangar can accommodate an AS565 Panther, Kaman SH-2F or Sikorsky S-76N helicopter.
Countermeasures include the AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed torpedo decoy system from Argon ST of Fairfax, Virginia, which seduces approaching torpedoes away from the ship. The Sa’ar 5 corvette’s radar warning receiver Elisra NS-9003/9005 is also installed on the Israeli Navy Sa’ar 4 and Sa’ar 4.5 patrol craft. Three Elbit Deseaver stabilised chaff rocket launchers are mounted on the forward and aft towers.
Eilat vessels are fitted with the Rafael Wizard (wideband zapping anti-radar decoy) passive RF corner reflector decoy system, effective against anti-ship missiles with chaff discrimination algorithms.
The air search radar antenna is installed on the aft tower. The Elta EL/M-2218S air search radar operates in E/F bands. The 2D/3D radar antenna, the fire control director and the I-band navigation radar antenna are installed on the forward tower. The fire control radar is the I/J/K-band EL/M-2221 GM STGR from Elta.
The Sa’ar is equipped with type 796 hull-mounted search-and-attack sonar, which operates at medium frequency and is supplied by EDO of New York. The ship’s towed sonar array is supplied by Rafael.
The ship’s propulsion system is in a CODOG combined diesel or gas configuration. The two MTU 12V 1163 TB82 diesel engines are rated at 6,600hp. The GE LM 2500 gas turbine system is cross-connected and provides 30,000hp. The propulsion system drives two shafts.
The propulsion system provides a maximum speed of 33kt. The cruise speed on the diesel engines is 20kt and the endurance is 4,000 nautical miles. A large twin rudder provides manoeuvrability at high speed and controllable reversible pitch (CRP) propellers at low speed.
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