The myth of missile boat threat?

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I don't know where you get the notion that RSN discarted FACs for frigates. In reality, the RSN has consistently gone for building up both its naval and shipbuilding capability by adding new, larger classes of ships as well as a submarine arm, MCM and amphibious ships.
The now retired Sea Wolf class 270 ton missile gunboats, based on the TNC 45 design from Lürssen, were acquired in way back in 1968 and were commissioned 1975-1976. As new technology became available, these gunboats underwent a number of upgrading programmes in the 1980s and 1990s to increase their strike capability and sophistication.

If FACs were capable why did they not replace Sea Wolfs with similar FACs? The experiences of the RSN have given it a through understanding of the limitations of small vessels. Instability has been a problem which even the Victory class corvettes face. Even the SLEP upgrades for the Victory corvettes are necessarily limited to comms upgrades - nothing major can go in without taking something out anymore. Look at the article written by the RSN officer. FACs are no longer regarded as viable for the main arm of a fleet. Their limitations are clear to the RSN and the Israelis, who were once a staunch supporter of the FACs. Notice the trend towards larger vessels even in Sweden. And what are the Israelis looking for to replace their older Saar FACs? See the displacement of LCS-I? Look at the increasing displacements of the vessels replacing the FACs in just about all cases. Replacements for FACs are becoming bigger, evolving pretty much to corvettes. Ever wondered why? FACs are a passe idea, their limited utility for their cost apparent. Except in forums, perhaps.

These references to the Gulf War events are really pointless. Or would anybody judge the usefulness of fighter aircraft by the performance of the Iraqi air force? Or MIM-104 by its performance against Iraqi Scud, for that?

I have no didea why the point is so hard to grasp. FACs were not judged to be ineffective just because they lost. It is the fight they were able to put up (or the lack of it) that highlighted their extreme limitations. The event just proved that sacrificing the components of a warship that make it expensive also happens to make it vulnerable and thus, rather pointless. And those sensors which are put on board see their effectiveness limited by EMI and other environmental effects.

Talking about upward creep. Those small Iranians are much closer to the original FAC idea. Fuel for 18 hours or so at max speed, two or four offensive weapons and then Hail Mary.

Good observation. Now find out the reasons for the upwards creep. That would prove instructive.

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Posts: 3,609

If FACs were capable why did they not replace Sea Wolfs with similar FACs? The experiences of the RSN have given it a through understanding of the limitations of small vessels. Instability has been a problem which even the Victory class corvettes face. Even the SLEP upgrades for the Victory corvettes are necessarily limited to comms upgrades - nothing major can go in without taking something out anymore. Look at the article written by the RSN officer. FACs are no longer regarded as viable for the main arm of a fleet. Their limitations are clear to the RSN and the Israelis, who were once a staunch supporter of the FACs. Notice the trend towards larger vessels even in Sweden. And what are the Israelis looking for to replace their older Saar FACs? See the displacement of LCS-I? Look at the increasing displacements of the vessels replacing the FACs in just about all cases. Replacements for FACs are becoming bigger, evolving pretty much to corvettes. Ever wondered why? FACs are a passe idea, their limited utility for their cost apparent. Except in forums, perhaps.

For starters, the mission perception of the RSN today is different and far more comprehensive than say 35 years ago. If you want to do different things, then you are going to need and get different ships. Also, the threat has completely changed (note e.g. developments in PLAAF and PLAN). Those are two very good reasons for not replacing the old Seawolf class with similar sized and similar armed ships, even if the boats served to full satisfaction.
Instability has been a problem especiallyfor the Victory class, which has a quite distinctive tall mast. Given the comprehensiveness of its weapons fit, I'm not suprised something has to come out before something else can be put in. Isn't that the essence of RE-fitting?
It is rather ludicrous to consider both LCS versions as replacements for the earlier FACs. Fact of life is that the FACs are aging and will have to be retired. In considering new ships, Israel will look at the threat, in the present and foreseeable future. The threat has clearly evolved from 20-30 years ago. Just compare the middle eastern navies of 30 years ago with those of today. So why would they necessarily need to get the same type of ship? That does not mean there is something wrong with the type of ship being paid off, however.
Indeed, considering the Med, have you noticed that nearby Turkey has steadily continued to build FACs through 2007 (8x 436 ton DOĞAN, 2x 433 ton YILDIZ and 7x 552 ton KILIÇ classes, all with similar displacement, sensors and armament of 1x76mm, 1x35/2 or 40/2, and 8 Harpoon). And I don't think the Hellenic navy is moving away from FACs either (Combattante IIa and III and more recently Super Vita classes. Ever wonder why these navies continue to see a usefull role for the FAC?

Don't confuse a changes in aspiration levels / navy missions / real and perceived threats with design failure!

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19 years 4 months

Posts: 490

For starters, the mission perception of the RSN today is different and far more comprehensive than say 35 years ago. If you want to do different things, then you are going to need and get different ships. Also, the threat has completely changed (note e.g. developments in PLAAF and PLAN). Those are two very good reasons for not replacing the old Seawolf class with similar sized and similar armed ships, even if the boats served to full satisfaction.

Sorry, FACs like the Sea Wolfs were supposed to be able to handle surface warships. That was their primary mission. As far as RSN user experience goes, why don't you look at what the RSN officer said? Do you think he would have said that if what he said runs counter to his experience?

"The addition of varieties of shipboard systems draws us inevitably to the question of space. The larger build of the corvette comes along with the advantages of longer range and better seakeeping. This extra range is a consideration in view of the tighter defence budgets with the recent economic downturn. The new corvette would be expected to fulfil a multi-role function that goes beyond her current� limit for strike operations.
..

The increased stability of the platform is crucial as the shock of high speeds creates undesirable operation conditions for weapon systems.
...

The first notable effect of a smaller hull is seakeeping. Much of the miniaturised electronics is placed in a cramped CIC. Already, there are problems placing new additions to technology because of the space limited by small hulls. To compound matters, all these get much harder in a rolling and pitching CIC. Crew fatigue occurs more quickly. Rough weather also reduces the effectiveness of sensors.

These problems provide reason for the FACs continual increase in size.
...
"

Instability has been a problem especiallyfor the Victory class, which has a quite distinctive tall mast. Given the comprehensiveness of its weapons fit, I'm not suprised something has to come out before something else can be put in. Isn't that the essence of RE-fitting?

Exactly. You said it yourself, the comprehensiveness of the fit needed to make it combat capable made it unstable. A high mast was required to give the sensors the optimal location, and even on a 62m corvette that made the ship unstable. Guess what happens on a smaller FAC?

It is rather ludicrous to consider both LCS versions as replacements for the earlier FACs. Fact of life is that the FACs are aging and will have to be retired. In considering new ships, Israel will look at the threat, in the present and foreseeable future. The threat has clearly evolved from 20-30 years ago. Just compare the middle eastern navies of 30 years ago with those of today. So why would they necessarily need to get the same type of ship? That does not mean there is something wrong with the type of ship being paid off, however.

Tell us why did they not acquire more FACs to replace the aging FACs? Given how much of a supporter the Israeli navy has been in the past of FACs, and how they expected FACs to be able to handle surface threats, the fact that the Israeli Navy abandoned FACs serves as a severe indictment of the FACs. The threat is still the same - surface, sub surface and airborne threats. Sure the opposition benefits from increased technology, but any FAC replacement can also have the same technology. Unless, perhaps, the inherent disadvantages of the FAC simply don't allow it to go up against larger vessels effectively, and the Israelis have finally realised that, along with the RSN?

Indeed, considering the Med, have you noticed that nearby Turkey has steadily continued to build FACs through 2007 (8x 436 ton DOĞAN, 2x 433 ton YILDIZ and 7x 552 ton KILIÇ classes, all with similar displacement, sensors and armament of 1x76mm, 1x35/2 or 40/2, and 8 Harpoon).

Sorry, you'd find that the KILIC class is 62m, and actually qualify as corvettes. Corvettes are borderline acceptable. Same for the Hellenic navy, with their Roussen class also a 62m design. Look at their older FACs, and see the trend? Upwards. Why? Think.

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Sorry, FACs like the Sea Wolfs were supposed to be able to handle surface warships. That was their primary mission.

And where exactly in the article does it say the Sea Wolfs can't? The only example of FAC failure given are in reference to Iraqi OSAs in the 1990, which were mauled by BOTH US A-6Es and the Sea Skua armed British Lynx Helicopters. And what does the article say about the OSAs at the time of their first instroduction (1950s):
"In the late 1950s, the (then) Soviet Union took a step ahead to piece together a fleet of crude missile armed boats, which NATO codenamed, Komar and Osa. They were fitted with tactical SSMs onboard - the P-15, better known as the SS-N-2A or B Styx (The later P-20 and P-21 were jointly coded SS-N-2C Styx). As they were considered highly vulnerable to air attack, little note was made of their existence. Such craft made up the Soviet defence fabric. They were nonetheless supplied to the (then) Soviet Allies and other client states, including Egypt."
Even in the 1950s they were considered vulnerable to air attack. So, how come them being swatted in the 1990s by modern air power is somehow a surprise or a proof of anything that we didn't already know?

As far as RSN user experience goes, why don't you look at what the RSN officer said? Do you think he would have said that if what he said runs counter to his experience?

"The addition of varieties of shipboard systems draws us inevitably to the question of space. The larger build of the corvette comes along with the advantages of longer range and better seakeeping. This extra range is a consideration in view of the tighter defence budgets with the recent economic downturn. The new corvette would be expected to fulfil a multi-role function that goes beyond her current� limit for strike operations.
..

The increased stability of the platform is crucial as the shock of high speeds creates undesirable operation conditions for weapon systems.
...

The first notable effect of a smaller hull is seakeeping. Much of the miniaturised electronics is placed in a cramped CIC. Already, there are problems placing new additions to technology because of the space limited by small hulls. To compound matters, all these get much harder in a rolling and pitching CIC. Crew fatigue occurs more quickly. Rough weather also reduces the effectiveness of sensors.

These problems provide reason for the FACs continual increase in size.
...
"

How then do you explain the 500 ton, Gabriel, Mistral and torpedo armed Fearless Class Patrol Vessels (commissioned 1996-1998)? Sure they don't do 40 knots, but they are FACs in every other respect. For this class the limitations like avialable space, vibration, mast height somehow don't exist? What did RSN have in mind?

Exactly. You said it yourself, the comprehensiveness of the fit needed to make it combat capable made it unstable. A high mast was required to give the sensors the optimal location, and even on a 62m corvette that made the ship unstable. Guess what happens on a smaller FAC?

No, its mast made it unstable. Not the fit of Barak in the hull rear or the fit of ASW torpedos on the main deck. And as you might note, not all similarly sized and armed ships (e.g. Laksamana class) have similar stability problems. Why do not all similarly sized ships have such a tall mast? Because it is characteristic of this particular class.

The article describes the Kilic-class of 'mini-corvettes' as being 1,300 to 1,400 tonnes in size with a full surface-to-surface armament (either Harpoons or Penguins), anti-air warfare capability for self-defence (Point defence or CIWS) and a limited Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) capability. In reality, they are under 550 tons with no CIWS or PDMS or ASW. So much for accuracy...


Tell us why did they not acquire more FACs to replace the aging FACs? Given how much of a supporter the Israeli navy has been in the past of FACs, and how they expected FACs to be able to handle surface threats, the fact that the Israeli Navy abandoned FACs serves as a severe indictment of the FACs. The threat is still the same - surface, sub surface and airborne threats. Sure the opposition benefits from increased technology, but any FAC replacement can also have the same technology. Unless, perhaps, the inherent disadvantages of the FAC simply don't allow it to go up against larger vessels effectively, and the Israelis have finally realised that, along with the RSN?

Told you already. There is no rule that says that in the face of changed circumstances you need to deploy the same type/size of ship. The Israeli Sea Corps has abandoned nothing: there are no 9 LCS' ordered and the main force remains FAC. However, even if LCS were acquired in such number, the choice of LCS indicates not abandoning the fast attack element but rather a further embrace of fast attack (what other 3500 ton ship is that fast?)

Sorry, you'd find that the KILIC class is 62m, and actually qualify as corvettes. Corvettes are borderline acceptable. Same for the Hellenic navy, with their Roussen class also a 62m design. Look at their older FACs, and see the trend? Upwards. Why? Think.

Sorry but all those ships - whether they are labelled corvette or not - are essentially hulls designed for high speed (Fast), carry an primary armament of antiship missiles (Attack) and are of relatively small displacement (Craft). The main point about corvette though is sea keeping. Many FAC got labelled corvette for the same reason some nations call they dinky 2500 ton frigates 'destroyers'. A true corvettes (which since ww2 has been an ocean sea going convoy escort / basic ASW unit) is more the likes of e.g. the Italian Minerva class or the german K130 Braunschweig or the French A69 or the MEKO 140 : a hull designed for sea keeping rather than speed. Why do you deny that the manufacturer of the Roussen class labels it a FAC? (I suspect Lurssen to have appropriate the term corvette for purposes of marketing in the Gulf) The Kilic class has none of the elements which the RSN officer is his article lists as characteristic of corvettes:

Developments to the FAC since 1991 had discernible changes. Such craft can take on at least an ASM-armed helicopter at standoff ranges up to 13km. The type, termed the corvette, is generally defined as a heavily-armed small surface combatant measuring 60 to 95 metres in length and displacing up to 500 to 2,000 tonnes. A distinguishing feature of the corvette is her capability for limited independent deployment, typically between 10 to 20 days, and usually equipped with self-defence capability against air and submarine threats. It is often also helicopter-capable - sometimes even affording her own hangar. The result can be seen, for instance, in Vosper Thornycroft's 83-metre corvette design, of which two have been sold to Oman. Besides the eight Exocet MM-40s and the ubiquitous 76mm main gun, these vessels carry, inter alia, an octuple Thomson-CSF Crotale SAM launcher able to tackle air threats, including sea-skimming missiles. The attractiveness of the heavily-armed corvette has sparked numerous replacement programs for FACs.

I supposed the JMSDFs PG Hayabusa Class is BS too? If so, why would Japan bother with it?

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And where exactly in the article does it say the Sea Wolfs can't?

If you don't realise it by now, the article pointed out the weaknesses of the FAC which highlight why they are not effective combatants.

The only example of FAC failure given are in reference to Iraqi OSAs in the 1990,

Did you deliberately not read all the other sections I have posted? Why do you think replacements for FACs are moving upwards in size and displacement?

The only example of FAC failure given are in reference to Iraqi OSAs in the 1990, which were mauled by BOTH US A-6Es and the Sea Skua armed British Lynx Helicopters. And what does the article say about the OSAs at the time of their first instroduction (1950s):

"In the late 1950s, the (then) Soviet Union took a step ahead to piece together a fleet of crude missile armed boats, which NATO codenamed, Komar and Osa. They were fitted with tactical SSMs onboard - the P-15, better known as the SS-N-2A or B Styx (The later P-20 and P-21 were jointly coded SS-N-2C Styx). As they were considered highly vulnerable to air attack, little note was made of their existence. Such craft made up the Soviet defence fabric. They were nonetheless supplied to the (then) Soviet Allies and other client states, including Egypt."
Even in the 1950s they were considered vulnerable to air attack. So, how come them being swatted in the 1990s by modern air power is somehow a surprise or a proof of anything that we didn't already know?

That seems to be a specific opinion towards the Osa, and no mention about which specifc group having that (correct) opinion. However, given that many navies tried to build FACs with hard kill self defenses, certainly that wasn't a shared view towards all FACs. The limitations of the FACs simply weren't as apparent and widely perceived then. Until the Battle of Bubiyan, of course. Nothing hits home like a massacre.

How then do you explain the 500 ton, Gabriel, Mistral and torpedo armed Fearless Class Patrol Vessels (commissioned 1996-1998)? Sure they don't do 40 knots, but they are FACs in every other respect. For this class the limitations like avialable space, vibration, mast height somehow don't exist? What did RSN have in mind?

Look at the specs again. No Gabriels.

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/navy/assets/vessels.html

Neither does Jane's list them as carrying Gabriels.

So clearly, they are not meant to go up against major surface combatants. 6 are for ASW duties, another 6 are for patrol duties. They suffer the earlier mentioned limitions, though lessons are incorporated to ameliorate them, such as lack of high speed. High speed is a major contributor to vibration and associated problems. Second, the problems mentioned so far like poor siting of sensors, EMI etc apply more towards AAW sensors than towards ASW sensors. So while their self defense capability against aerial threats is still very mediocre, they are still acceptable at their tasks of patrolling Singapore's waters.

No, its mast made it unstable. Not the fit of Barak in the hull rear or the fit of ASW torpedos on the main deck. And as you might note, not all similarly sized and armed ships (e.g. Laksamana class) have similar stability problems. Why do not all similarly sized ships have such a tall mast? Because it is characteristic of this particular class.

No, it's because RSN tried to give it a comprehensive anti-air self defense capability, and the sensors had to be placed high on the mast since they required height for optimal performance. And instability resulted. Trying to attribute it away to being just a 'characteristic of this class' is ridiculous. If this was just a characteristic, why couldn't they have done away with it? Clearly, the mast was required, for the purposes I stated.

Told you already. There is no rule that says that in the face of changed circumstances you need to deploy the same type/size of ship. The Israeli Sea Corps has abandoned nothing: there are no 9 LCS' ordered and the main force remains FAC. However, even if LCS were acquired in such number, the choice of LCS indicates not abandoning the fast attack element but rather a further embrace of fast attack (what other 3500 ton ship is that fast?)

And how do you explain the increase in size of their surface combatants, from Saar 4, to 4.5 then to 5, and now the LCS? The LCS just happens to come with that speed, considering it has a semi-planing hull and the power in it. And on that, the question is whether that speed has brought too much of a sacrifice in other areas.

Sorry but all those ships - whether they are labelled corvette or not - are essentially hulls designed for high speed (Fast), carry an primary armament of antiship missiles (Attack) and are of relatively small displacement (Craft). The main point about corvette though is sea keeping. Many FAC got labelled corvette for the same reason some nations call they dinky 2500 ton frigates 'destroyers'. A true corvettes (which since ww2 has been an ocean sea going convoy escort / basic ASW unit) is more the likes of e.g. the Italian Minerva class or the german K130 Braunschweig or the French A69 or the MEKO 140 : a hull designed for sea keeping rather than speed. Why do you deny that the manufacturer of the Roussen class labels it a FAC? (I suspect Lurssen to have appropriate the term corvette for purposes of marketing in the Gulf) The Kilic class has none of the elements which the RSN officer is his article lists as characteristic of corvettes:

If a navy calls a 6,000 ton warship a FAC, does that mean what I said still applies? Please apply common sense to what I'm saying. Around 57m and lower designs suffer severely from the problems I listed. 62 m are pretty much borderline cases in terms of acceptability.

I supposed the JMSDFs PG Hayabusa Class is BS too? If so, why would Japan bother with it?

The Hayabusa was evolved out of lessons learned from the 1999 Noto Peninsula incident, when 2 intruder vessel of suspected North Korean origin was able to escape its Japanese trackers at 30 knots. That accounts for its high speed. Generally, it seems to embody the lessons of the Battle of Bubiyan as well, in a similar fashion to that of the 022 FAC. Little hard kill defenses (due to their ineffectiveness because of all the problems I listed earlier), relying more on stealth for survival.

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%81%AF%E3%82%84%E3%81%B6%E3%81%95%E5%9E%8B%E3%83%9F%E3%82%B5%E3%82%A4%E3%83%AB%E8%89%87

(Google translate helps, a little)

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Posts: 3,609

If you don't realise it by now, the article pointed out the weaknesses of the FAC which highlight why they are not effective combatants.

The fact that a certain type of ship has weaknesses doesn't make it ineffective. That is (also) a matter of circumstances under which it is employed and operational doctrine. Every type of ship has strengths and weaknesses.

Did you deliberately not read all the other sections I have posted? Why do you think replacements for FACs are moving upwards in size and displacement?

I've read the full articles. Increases in length and displacements do not mean the larger ships aren't still FACs (even if 'on steroids') and employed as such.
You fail to acknowledge even the possibility that to the extent that navies shift from FACs to other larger classes of ships this is the result of a shift in a) (perceived) threat, and b) what the navy is expected to do. If the neighboring country is making territorial claims in mid-ocean and starts building modern large frigates to back up those claims, for example, building more coastal craft is not going to help is it? But does this mean the existing coastal craft have not fullfulled their role? Obvously not. Likewise, is your natoin has committed itself to international phumanitarian and peacekeeing organisations - as many more nations have in the past 10 years than say 30 years ago - then you are going to get suitable assets for your nay (e.g. LPD). However, navies never have unlimited resources (particularly smaller ones, which tend to have FACs), so often times the implication is that if you want one capability you cannot also have the other. The dutch navy wanted top of the line LCF and 2 LPDs. The sacrifice it had to make was a reduction in fleet size, the sale of most smaller frigates many of which had not even reached midlife.

That seems to be a specific opinion towards the Osa, and no mention about which specifc group having that (correct) opinion.

Oh, so now its not your guy who's talking? Somehow he is not representative of naval experts opinion?

However, given that many navies tried to build FACs with hard kill self defenses, certainly that wasn't a shared view towards all FACs. The limitations of the FACs simply weren't as apparent and widely perceived then. Until the Battle of Bubiyan, of course. Nothing hits home like a massacre".

Your author has this as a general view towards German Schnellboote (S-Boats), the American PT-Boats and the British Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs) as well. Your authos also states:
"Of course, it must be noted that the Iraqi Navy was up against a vastly superior opponent in an exposed environment not particularly favoured for FAC operations."
and
"Nevertheless, these events showed that the day of the rudimentary FAC was over and marked the end of an era that began with the sinking of the Eilat."
An OSA is a rudimentary FAC (from its inception 4 decades earlier), various Lurssen derived boats aren't designed 2-3 decades later aren't. Note, incidentally, that you author doesn't mention the captured Kuweiti missile boats, which you claim the Iraqi's so fully mastered.

Look at the specs again. No Gabriels.

The second six vessels are configured for anti-surface warfare. They were to be fitted with the Gabriel II short to medium range anti-ship missile supplied by IAI, but this project has been abandoned. Gabriel II uses dual mode semi-active and active radar homing and is armed with a 100kg warhead. The range is from 6 to 36km and the missile velocity is 0.6 Mach.

http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/fearless/
According to The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World by Eric Wertheim, Gabriel II was to be carried in the second group en lieu of the anti submarine torpedo tubes. They were not fitted as such, but the design could clearly handle that load without further changes, effectively allowing a Sea Wolf replacement. Even if not installed, it does show RSN what roles considered.

No, it's because RSN tried to give it a comprehensive anti-air self defense capability, and the sensors had to be placed high on the mast since they required height for optimal performance. And instability resulted. Trying to attribute it away to being just a 'characteristic of this class' is ridiculous. If this was just a characteristic, why couldn't they have done away with it? Clearly, the mast was required, for the purposes I stated.

"The corvettes are noted for their tall mast, making them top-heavy compared to ships of similar class."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Singapore_Navy#Corvettes
"Suffer from topweight problems due to huge mast housing EW gear."
http://www.hazegray.org/worldnav/asiapac/singap.htm#4
The (smaller) Saar 4.5, Hetz class has the same AAW missile suite with associated sensors. Unlike the Victory class, the Hetz class does not suffer top weight and stability problems however. Nor do the Aspide equipped Ecuadorian Esmeralda class and the Malaysian Laksamana Class. Nor does the Crotale equipped UAE Murray Jip class.

And how do you explain the increase in size of their surface combatants, from Saar 4, to 4.5 then to 5, and now the LCS? The LCS just happens to come with that speed, considering it has a semi-planing hull and the power in it. And on that, the question is whether that speed has brought too much of a sacrifice in other areas.

There is no such linear progressiopn. Actually, the Saar 4.5 has 2 subclasses (Aliya and Hetz). The first 2 boats (Aliya su class) date predate Saar5 but are hybrid boats (they were given rather chunky helicopter facilities, the use of which informed the Saar 5 design). The Hetz-sub class remained a true FAC and it partly coincides and partially even postdates the Saar 5. They are new hulls that were fitted to a large extent with equippement from retired Saar 4s due to budget constraints.
While wapedia mentions that there has been talk of 9 LCS-1 mods and 3 LCS-2 mods as replacement for the Saar 4/4.5 this obviously is not the present state of affairs. Given LCS unit cost and past funding levels for ISC (it could barely pay Saar 5 and had to scrape to get Saar 4.5), this is not going to happen. To date, Lockheed Martin received an initial contract from the Israeli Navy in February 2006 to perform a feasibility study for a multi-mission LCS variant. The study, successfully completed in April 2007, resulted in the Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) decision to approve initial funding for two multi- mission ships currently based on an LCS-I design that would include anti-air, anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-missile warfare missions, as well as special operations. (http://defense-update.com/newscast/1107/news/141107_lcsi.htm) Now, that's a package of tasks far more comprehensive than most navies would have their FACs perform. Perhaps the Israeli needs are somewhat different and go beyond that for a 'pure' FAC for sea denial. Certainly, they face different naval threats than 30 years ago.

If a navy calls a 6,000 ton warship a FAC, does that mean what I said still applies? Please apply common sense to what I'm saying. Around 57m and lower designs suffer severely from the problems I listed. 62 m are pretty much borderline cases in terms of acceptability.

Have a look at this list of corvette classes. You claim 62m/600 tons as corvette. However in most cases, there is a clear break somewhere between 500-1000 ton 1000-2000 ton or under/over 750 tons. All are labelled corvette, but those under 750-1000 are rather typically craft with a hull built for speed rather than seakeeping and endurance. They are in fact FAC's on steroids. Those 62m 500-600 tons 'corvettes' are much much closer to what is traditional termed FAC then they are to corvettes.
Can you explain why e.g. the Saar 4.5 is classified as FAC and the Victory class as corvette? The Hellenic Navy currently operates the Super Vita-class ships, which are 580 tons[vague] full load. The Hellenic Navy has categorised the class as fast attack missile craft. A similar vessel is the Kilic-class fast attack missile craft of the Turkish Navy, which is classified as a corvette by Lürssen Werft, the German designer of the ship. Is Visby really anything other but a very large FAC and if yes, then what makes specifically it a corvette?

The Hayabusa was evolved out of lessons learned from the 1999 Noto Peninsula incident, when 2 intruder vessel of suspected North Korean origin was able to escape its Japanese trackers at 30 knots. That accounts for its high speed. Generally, it seems to embody the lessons of the Battle of Bubiyan as well, in a similar fashion to that of the 022 FAC. Little hard kill defenses (due to their ineffectiveness because of all the problems I listed earlier), relying more on stealth for survival.

So, there was no step up in armament from a 20mm gatling on the PG 1-go patrol hydrofoil to a 76mm in the Haybusa? Or a step up in tonnage from 50 to 200 (and thus in seakeeping and endurance)? Or in terms of sensors? In fact, you have no evidence to the effect that armament choices for these ships have anything to do with the (perceived) (in)effectiveness of hardkill measures on small boats. That's just your interpetation. Incidentally, in Italian service that same dinky 50 ton hydrofoil carriers a 76mm with no problems.

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Posts: 490

The fact that a certain type of ship has weaknesses doesn't make it ineffective. That is (also) a matter of circumstances under which it is employed and operational doctrine. Every type of ship has strengths and weaknesses.

If a ship has weaknesses which prevent it from carrying out its mission satisfactorily, it's ineffective.

I've read the full articles. Increases in length and displacements do not mean the larger ships aren't still FACs (even if 'on steroids') and employed as such.
You fail to acknowledge even the possibility that to the extent that navies shift from FACs to other larger classes of ships this is the result of a shift in a) (perceived) threat, and b) what the navy is expected to do. If the neighboring country is making territorial claims in mid-ocean and starts building modern large frigates to back up those claims, for example, building more coastal craft is not going to help is it?

Why is it that almost across the board less than 62m designs are abandoned? And those exceptions also see a greater emphasis on stealth as a self protection measure while simultaneously abandoning a comprehensive sensor and hard kill defense suite?

Which mid ocean territory is Israel trying to protect? What naval humanitarian mission are they doing? Israel is facing the same kind of threat it once used FACs to handle. The only difference is that they are now abandoning FACs as a solution. And if long range deployments were required, we'd all see 120m designs replacing FACs. But we are seeing 62m designs replacing 57m designs and below. This is the case in Greece. Surely you are not telling me that they intend these FAC replacements to do the work of their larger major surface combatants?

Oh, so now its not your guy who's talking? Somehow he is not representative of naval experts opinion?

He did not specify which group of people held that opinion at that time. Certainly if all held that opinion, we wouldn't have seen FACs in such widespread service and with such heavy emphasis on Anti-air warfare self defense suite.

"Nevertheless, these events showed that the day of the rudimentary FAC was over and marked the end of an era that began with the sinking of the Eilat."
An OSA is a rudimentary FAC (from its inception 4 decades earlier), various Lurssen derived boats aren't designed 2-3 decades later aren't. Note, incidentally, that you author doesn't mention the captured Kuweiti missile boats,

Yes, to deal with the issues I mentioned, FACs had to be abandoned and the move was towards larger platforms to ameliorate the drawbacks FACs faced.

which you claim the Iraqi's so fully mastered.

Where did I claim that? Back off or shut up.

http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/fearless/
According to The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World by Eric Wertheim, Gabriel II was to be carried in the second group en lieu of the anti submarine torpedo tubes.

And they are wrong. The Fearless class do not carry Gabriels. Go look at pics for yourself instead of stubbornly insisting.

They were not fitted as such, but the design could clearly handle that load without further changes, effectively allowing a Sea Wolf replacement. Even if not installed, it does show RSN what roles considered.

You are clutching at straws now, aren't you? Are you seriously arguing that because it is possible (according to you) to place Gabriel on the design, it shows that the RSN considered using the Fearless class as a Sea Wolf replacement? Then isn't them not placing the Gabriel on the Fearless class PVs a further indictment against the effectiveness of doing so?

"The corvettes are noted for their tall mast, making them top-heavy compared to ships of similar class."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republi...Navy#Corvettes
"Suffer from topweight problems due to huge mast housing EW gear."
http://www.hazegray.org/worldnav/asiapac/singap.htm#4
The (smaller) Saar 4.5, Hetz class has the same AAW missile suite with associated sensors. Unlike the Victory class, the Hetz class does not suffer top weight and stability problems however. Nor do the Aspide equipped Ecuadorian Esmeralda class and the Malaysian Laksamana Class. Nor does the Crotale equipped UAE Murray Jip class.

Quite amazing how you get your info wrong so often. The Saar 4.5 is 'fitted for but not with' the Barak system. Don't be deceived by all the armaments shown on websites for Saar class. They can't carry them all at once without severe sacrifice in seakeeping ability.

JANE'S NAVY INTERNATIONAL - APRIL 01, 2006

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Israel innovates for the asymmetric
Richard Scott

Although the smallest of Israel's armed forces, the Israel Navy strives to ensure the integrity of the state's major maritime artery while at the same time countering security threats along its seaward borders. Richard Scott reviews the fleet

The state of Israel knows better than most the price to be paid for protecting national security. Since its establishment in May 1948, its defence forces have found themselves engaged in conflicts of varying intensities for most of the past 58 years. More recently, they have been fully engaged in responding to the unrest brought about by the uprisings or 'intifadas' in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

This hard-won experience of both high- and low-intensity conflict has given the Israel Defence Force (IDF) a deep-rooted appreciation of the value of self-reliance, preparedness, technical supremacy and information superiority. And, despite frequent condemnation from the international community, the IDF continues to take an unapologetically robust stance towards those who it sees as a threat to Israel's security, whether within its proclaimed borders or further afield.

Today, while Israel enjoys a 'cold' peace with many of its Arab neighbours, and finds the 'eastern-front' threat once posed by Iraq removed, it is confronted by a range of low-intensity security threats emanating from militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon. The election of a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority suggests that there is little prospect of this situation improving in the near term.
Furthermore, Iran's vocal belligerency does not allow for complacency in the minds of politicians and defence planners. Nor does the possibility that Egypt and Syria might one day find themselves governed by radical Islamic regimes more hostile to Israel.

The fact that Israel has traditionally seen its security challenges coming across its landward borders has all too often served to play down the roles and missions performed by the Israel Navy. The smallest of the IDF's three arms, it has tended to avoid the limelight cast on IDF ground forces and the Israel Air Force (IAF) (although its success in the 1973 Yom Kippur war when Saar missile boats used radical tactics to inflict significant losses on Egyptian and Syrian forces, without any loss to themselves, certainly did not go unnoticed by other maritime powers).

Of course, matters of size should not diminish the contribution that the navy makes to safeguarding Israel's maritime borders and offshore security interests. In an era where many navies are seeking to transform their own legacy force structures to deal with the asymmetric threats encountered in the littoral, the development of the Israel Navy as a modestly sized but agile, innovative, jointly focused and increasingly networked force offers some useful insights.

Given continuing security concerns, the Israel Navy (as with the other branches of the IDF) remains circumspect in the amount of information it releases on funding. So while the Ministry of Defence (MoD) declares a 2006 defence budget of NIS36 billion (USD7.64 billion), augmented by USD2.2 billion (NIS10.48 billion) in US defence aid, it does not break down spending across the IDF (although informed sources suggest that less than five per cent of Israel's total defence budget is allocated to the navy). The total full-time establishment of the navy (both professional and national service personnel) is put at about 9,000, with an additional 5,000 reservists available on mobilisation.

Given these resource constraints, and the inherent fixed costs associated with payroll and infrastructure, the Israel Navy makes enormous efforts to focus its scarce funds on those skills and disciplines it sees as critical to maintaining operational capability. For example, as well as operating its own dockyard facility at Haifa, it also manages its own highly proficient combat systems engineering and integration authority (thus choosing to accept responsibility for the delivery of combat system capability to the fleet). In this particular domain it finds itself working with a local maritime industrial base populated to a significant extent by ex-navy operators and engineers, allowing the navy to benefit from the insight and experience these former practitioners can bring to bear in the development of new systems and equipment.

Indeed, pressures on both funding and manpower have made the Israel Navy readily accepting of new ideas and technologies to ensure it maintains a qualitative edge over potential adversaries. Examples of such force multipliers include unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), which will in the medium term assume the roles currently performed by manned maritime patrol aircraft, the employment of federated training facilities aboard major surface units, and the development of a common command control, communications, computers and information (C4I) infrastructure to compile and broadcast a common recognised picture fleetwide.

Maritime security

Situated on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and lying at the junction of the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa, Israel claims an area of 20,770 km2 (8,019 square miles), extending about 320 km north-to-south and 110 km east-to-west. This total includes the Golan Heights area captured from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed on 14 December 1981. Other territories captured in 1967 and classified as administered territories were the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (the Gaza Strip and Jericho area were transferred in 1994 to Palestinian administration). East Jerusalem, captured in 1967, was annexed shortly thereafter.

Israel is bordered on the north by Lebanon, on the east by Syria and Jordan, on the south by the Gulf of Aqaba and to the southwest by Egypt. The total land boundary length stretches 1,017 km, while the coastline covers 273 km including a small strip of shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba in the northern Red Sea.

Given the uneasy relationships that persist with its landward neighbours, it is perhaps little wonder that most Israelis tend to ignore the strategic importance of the sea. Nevertheless, according to Rear Admiral Yuval Zur, Chief of Staff of the Israel Navy, it is very much a maritime state, "even if it does not necessarily behave like it".

His perspective is born out of the hard lessons learned from Israel's survival through a short but turbulent history, particularly an appreciation of the enduring strategic value of its sea lines of communication (SLOCs). "Our sea lines of communication are vital, and have been fundamental to the state since 1948, particularly with regard to supplies of energy and security-related goods."

Certainly, Israel's geostrategic position has in the past proved critical for the movement of energy supplies at a global scale. The Red Sea port of Eilat was developed to receive tankers bringing crude oil from Iran, then still ruled by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1968 the Trans-Israel Pipeline was opened to carry oil received at Eilat overland to Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast. (At that time, the Suez Canal was still closed following the 1967 war, with Israel holding the eastern bank and Egypt the western bank, so the pipeline saved tankers having to make the long and costly journey around Africa.)

"The development of the port at Eilat meant that Israel was able to bypass the Suez Canal during two conflicts [in 1967 and 1973]," points out Rear Adm Zur. "Furthermore, the construction of the Trans-Israel Pipeline allowed Israel to feed oil supplies through to Europe between 1974 and 1979."

But the need to establish a modern and effective naval force was something which took a little longer for Israel's leaders to recognise. The conflicts of both 1956 and 1967 exposed the inability of the Israel Navy then in being able to influence the outcome of events at sea. And in October 1967 it suffered the ignominy of becoming the first navy in the world to lose a warship to anti-ship missile attack when the destroyer Eilat, operating 13 n miles off Port Said, was hit and sunk by P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 'Styx') missiles fired by an Egyptian Komar-class fast-attack craft.

"This experience shaped our understanding of a new navy that would be based on small fast missile boats and guided missiles," remarks Rear Adm Zur. "In a tactical sense, it very much changed the doctrine of the navy from defence to offence."

This transformation was achieved through the acquisition of a new generation of Saar fast missile craft armed with the Gabriel anti-ship missile system. It was this strike force that, through the use of innovative tactics and brilliantly executed electronic deception measures, was able to wreak havoc on opposing Syrian forces in a sea battle off Latakia on the second day of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Following this and other skirmishes, the Syrian and Egyptian navies stayed in port throughout most of the war, enabling the Mediterranean sea lanes to Israel to remain open.

"This [Latakia] was the decisive battle which won us sea control," says Rear Adm Zur. "Indeed, the principles of surprise, clever tactics, and the delivery of overwhelming firepower in a very short timeframe to break the will of the adversary, are still absolutely relevant to our doctrine."

He continues: "The navy is built to fight a decisive battle at sea, which means that in the first days of conflict we must have the ability to deliver overwhelming effect. Our force development is true to this vision.

"How do we do that today? We need the ability to discriminate targets using high-resolution sensors for detection and classification. We need precision weapons to prosecute targets. And we need the wideband communications and networking technology to link sensors, weapons and the command so as to be able to deliver decisive effect at a time and place of our choosing."

Israel still enjoys the sea control that it won in the Yom Kippur war. "But it is something we must work to maintain," stresses Rear Adm Zur, "bearing in mind the continued strategic importance of our sea lines of communication".

Since the cessation of oil imports from Iran in 1979, Israel's principal SLOC now stretches the 2,000 n miles from the Straits of Gibraltar, at the entrance of the Mediterranean, to the deepwater ports of Haifa and Ashdod, skirting the Maghreb states en route.

"We cannot forget that some 99 per cent of all goods arriving in Israel come by sea," he says. "Furthermore, 93 per cent of all security-related goods come by sea. Protecting this long SLOC, which runs the length of the Mediterranean and skirts the Magreb for part of its course, is a huge task for a force of our size."

There is thus an implicit acknowledgement that it is simply impossible to safeguard each and every mile of the SLOC. Indeed, the SLOCs do not necessarily need to be open all the time.

"Because northern Europe and the eastern seaboard of the US are the prime shipping points to Israel, we know that we have a specified period from a vessel's time of departure to the time it turns up outside one of our ports," says Rear Adm Zur. "That gives us a defined 'window' to sanitise the waterspace and eliminate any threats before inbound shipping arrives."

Roles and missions

The Israel Navy's mission is to act at and from the sea, to protect Israel, its sovereignty and citizens, and to maintain its national interests at sea. To achieve this, the service serves as a deterrent, provides protection to the coastline and SLOCs, and participates from the sea in joint IDF operations. In terms of its operational theatre, the navy remains very much focused on the Mediterranean; while it has a very minor presence in the Red Sea through the patrol forces based in Eilat, it does not deploy major units through the Suez Canal based on judgment of the force protection risks.

Today at least, the 'conventional' threat is assessed to be moderate. Syria's naval capability has progressively eroded, reflecting the country's poor economic situation and the limited funding allocated to maritime forces. That said, the instability of the regime, and its sometimes unpredictable behaviour, compels Israel to maintain a close watch on Syrian military activity.

Similarly, while Egypt is certainly not regarded as an enemy - the Camp David accords of September 1978 brokered a peace that endures to this day - the development of its order of battle cannot be ignored given the uncertainties surrounding the regime that ultimately succeeds that of President Hosni Mubarak. The Arab Republic of Egypt Navy has in the past decade been the beneficiary of a large amount of US military materiel, including four FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates and 10 SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters. Furthermore, US Foreign Military Funding is footing the bill for three new fast missile craft to be built by VT Halter Marine. Another significant acquisition came in 2002-03 with the transfer of five Type 148 missile craft from Germany.

So for the time being at least, the Israel Navy is confident in its ability to maintain sea control in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and ensure safe passage for shipping along the coast of Israel. Instead, the more immediate threat lies in the coastal zone, where increased efforts are being directed at cracking down on arms smugglers, insurgents and militant groups seeking to infiltrate Israeli territory to launch terror attacks.

Such adversaries are by their nature unconventional or 'asymmetric'. They are also nothing new: over the last 35 years, around 70 terror attacks against targets in Israel have been launched from the sea. Today, with more than 75 per cent of Israel's 6.5 million populace living on the coastal strip, and with many critical infrastructures (such as ports, refineries and power stations) located on or near to the shoreline, the relative vulnerability of the maritime zone and its hinterlands becomes immediately evident.

"The nature of this threat is extremely varied," says Rear Adm Zur. "It includes direct terror attacks, ship abductions, merchant ships launching small insertion craft and improvised explosive devices. Arms smuggling is also an ever present concern."

The problem for the IDF, and the Israel Navy in particular, is the lack of strategic depth on the maritime and land borders to the north and south. The town of Nahariyya is a little more than four miles from Lebanon; Ashkelon is only seven miles from Gaza city; and Eilat finds itself hemmed between borders with Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

This proximity means that threats are measured only in time, not distance. That dictates that the Israel Navy must detect, classify and prosecute threats to its maritime perimeter in a very short time 'window'.

Its response has been to establish a tightly woven tapestry of coastal surveillance and interdiction assets, running the length of its coastline and networked into regional command centres at Haifa, Ashdod and on the Red Sea (these in turn report to the navy's Central Command Centre in Tel Aviv). In total, 11 standing patrols are maintained on the Mediterranean coast with a further two on the Red Sea.

Recognised picture

To compile the recognised maritime picture, the navy has established a chain of coastal radar and electro-optical surveillance stations augmented by airborne surveillance assets. At sea, a force of fast patrol craft (a mix of Dabur, Super Dvora and Shaldag type vessels) are used for surveillance and interdiction. These surveillance assets feed into command facilities to produce a single picture, which is then pushed out fleetwide across an overarching C4I infrastructure.

According to Israel Navy Commander in Chief Vice Admiral David Ben-Bashat, the coastal surveillance net is "now being converted into an unmanned, remote- controlled system employing a modern wideband communications network. This system allows us to create accurate situation assessments at much lower costs and, most importantly, enables a substantial preservation of our most important commodity, namely human resources."

He adds: "We have over time developed to become an agile, flexible and networked force well versed in operations against a range of asymmetric threats. Israel's experience in its littoral has given us huge experience in dealing with difficult and dangerous threats, which many other navies are only now having to come to terms with as they engage in the global 'war on terror'."

It is this insight into maritime interdiction and counter-terror operations that the Israel Navy now values as a currency through which to forge closer links with NATO and other international navies after many years of 'isolation'. Indeed, an Israeli naval officer is being assigned to NATO's Joint Information and Analysis Centre as a contribution to Operation 'Active Endeavour'.

Since 1982, apart from exercises with the US Navy's Sixth Fleet, and occasional passage exercises with German ships operating in or transiting through the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel's navy has found operational engagement with foreign navies hard to come by. One naval source noted: "Many navies are happy to engage with us 'under the table'. But very few want to be seen cavorting with us on it."

However, recent years have witnessed some developments that reflect an easing of this isolation. Search and rescue (SAR) exercises with the US and Turkish navies, under the banner of 'Reliant Mermaid', have been running since January 1998. An initiative to improve peacetime humanitarian assistance co-operation and interoperability between US, Turkish, and Israeli navies on a biennial basis, the exercise's aim is to develop methods and procedures for SAR operations as well as co-ordination within and between naval and naval-air units of the three countries.

Israel has also been invited as an observer to the NATO submarine rescue exercise 'Sorbet Royal'. Furthermore, it is now linked into the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Forum.

These engagements, plus Israel's involvement in NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, are seen by Vice Adm Ben-Bashat as a promising portend. "We are very keen to establish relations with other navies in our operating area," he says, "and I would hope to see [our ships] called upon to contribute to international operations in the generation to come".

Fleet assets

The major operational elements of the Israel Navy are based at Haifa and split into three flotillas; Flotilla 3 parents major surface units; Flotilla 7 is the navy's submarine arm; and Flotilla 13 is the elite 'Shayetet' naval commando unit.

Three Saar 5 corvettes, INS Eilat, INS Lahav and INS Hanit, commissioned in 1994-95, constitute the most capable units in the surface fleet. Designed by John J McMullen Associates and built by what was Litton Ingalls (now Northrop Grumman Ship Systems) in Pascagoula, Mississippi, they combine a relatively small platform - the hull and topside of which is heavily optimised for signature reduction - with a powerful combat system and C4I facilities. Their weapon fit includes a Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS), the Barak-1 point defence missile system, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Mk 46 Mod 5 torpedoes and facilities for the operation and support of an Atalef helicopter.

"These corvettes are the C4I hubs for the fleet," says Rear Adm Zur. "Indeed, we have updated the command system since commissioning to provide additional facilities for an embarked flag staff or joint force commander."

Eight Saar 4.5 missile boats are currently in service, the last delivered by Israel Shipyards in 2002. Described by Rear Adm Zur as "the workhorses of the fleet", they are equipped with the Phalanx CIWS, Harpoon missiles and a 76/62 Compact gun, and are fitted 'for but not with' the Barak-1 missile system. Modular davits can be installed aboard these vessels to allow for the carriage of special forces' boats.

Just two Saar 4 missile boats, Nitzhon and Atsmout, remain in service. Commissioned in 1978-79, they are both equipped with variable depth sonars and are the last ships in the Israel Navy to carry the Gabriel II anti-ship missile system.

Entering service in 1999-2000 as replacements for three aged Gal-class boats, the three 1,900 ton submerged displacement Dolphin-class diesel-electric submarines were built by Germany's Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) and Thyssen Nordseewerke, both now part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Equipped with the ISUS 90-1 command and weapon-control system, a multi-array sonar suite, Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a mix of Seahake and NT 37E heavyweight torpedoes, the Dolphin boats have a key role to play in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities, interdiction operations, and support to special forces.

They are also noted to have a 'deterrent' role. This has been widely interpreted as indicative of a 'second-strike' capability based on a torpedo tube-launched nuclear-tipped cruise missile. The Israel Navy refuses to discuss this issue; indeed Israel will not confirm or deny that it possesses nuclear arms, although independent intelligence assessments have concluded that it has an inventory of up to 200 warheads.

Flotilla 13 is the navy's commando unit, which operates its own fleet of rigid-hull inflatable boats and fast insertion craft. Originally established to undertake coastal raiding operations, the Shayetet - colloquially known as the Navy SEALs - has in recent years found itself actively involved in covert counter-terrorism operations within the Palestinian territories. Trained to operate from air, sea and land, it has in the past won acclaim for its interdiction of vessels attempting to run armaments to Palestinian militant groups.

Patrol forces stationed around the Israeli coastline are equipped with a total of 33 high-speed patrol craft. Described by one senior officer as the "young bulls of the navy", these vessels service 13 standing patrol tasks on the coastal frontier.

The Haifa regional command, responsible for operations north of Mikhmoret up to the border with Lebanon, is currently equipped with 11 IAI Ramta-built Super Dvora Mk I and Mk II vessels, while the Red Sea command at Eilat has two Super Dvora Mk II craft plus two older Dabur-class. Also based at Eilat are three Nachshil-class Stingray catamaran interceptors, in service since 1998. One sank in the Red Sea in September 2005 as a result of a mechanical failure but was successfully salvaged in January 2006 and is now being surveyed to assess whether it can be returned to service.

The Ashdod command meanwhile is midway through a phased modernisation programme that is seeing its older Dabur-class vessels progressively replaced by 10 new Super Dvora Mk III and five Shaldag fast patrol craft. An initial Phase A contract for six Super Dvora Mk III and two Shaldag craft was placed in 2002, the order being split between IAI Ramta (builder of the Super Dvora line) and Israel Shipyards (which originally developed the Shaldag as a private venture). A Phase B award, covering the supply of four additional Super Dvora Mk III vessels and three more Shaldags, was let to the two yards in late 2005.

Both vessel types are equipped with a remotely controlled Rafael Typhoon 25 mm stabilised gun system (slaved to an MSIS electro-optical tracker), a manually operated 20 mm cannon and two 7.62 mm machine guns. The Typhoon mounting can also receive electro-optically guided Spike-ER (NTD) missiles to enable precision strikes at targets at ranges up to 10 km.

The Israel Navy's patrol forces have latterly been augmented by Tzir'a- ('Defender') class patrol boats operated by the newly established Snapir counter-terror unit. A total of four 27 ft Tzir'a boats have been delivered to date for use in port protection, boarding operations, shallow-water surveillance and diving operations. Four more Tzir'a-class boats, built to a lengthened 31-ft design, are on order.

Another recent acquisition includes two ex-German Navy Type 745 multipurpose trials and support ships, ex-FGS Bant and ex-FGS Kalkgrund, which have been re-named INS Bat Galim, and INS Bat Yam respectively. The two ships, retired from service in late 2004, were in November 2005 towed to Elsflether shipyard to be reactivated and to be prepared for their delivery to the Israel Navy.

Both vessels departed Wilmshaven as deck cargo in February 2006. Israel Navy sources say that one of the ships will be used for underwater search and survey operations, with the other being tasked for salvage, diving support and torpedo recovery duties.

IDF maritime air assets are tasked by the navy but flown by the IAF. Embarked aviation is limited to five Atalef ('Bat') shipborne helicopters (a tailored variant of the Eurocopter AS 565MA Panther) operated from the Saar 5 corvettes and used for reconnaissance and third-party targeting. While flown by air force pilots, the aircraft's tactical co-ordinator is a naval officer.

Based at Ramat David air force base when ashore, the Atalef is equipped with an IAI Elta EL/M-2022H surveillance radar and a Controp stabilised electro-optical system. It is also equipped with datalink facilities to relay sensor information back to other units.

Three Westwind 1124 SeaScan maritime patrol aircraft, also operated jointly by the air force and navy, have been used for coastal surveillance and intelligence gathering tasks. These will be phased out in the coming years in favour of a two-tier fleet of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs): two examples of the maritime surveillance variant of IAI Malat's Heron UAV - designated Machatz 1 - are already operating in the coastal patrol role with the EL/M-2022U radar and an electro-optical payload; a new high-altitude long-endurance UAV, known as Eitan and equipped with the same EL/M-2022U radar, satellite communications and beyond line-of-sight control, will be used for long-range reconnaissance.

Force development

According to Vice Adm Ben-Bashat, the "uniquely delicate geopolitical balance distinguishes the Middle East from other regions of the world. Each day carries with it new developments that may emerge as either looming threats or unique opportunities. This ever-changing reality produces the challenges that must be borne in mind when planning naval force design for the next decade".

He adds: "Operationally speaking, I feel that the future of naval force design should be based on the solid foundations of technological advancement and the efficient utilisation of human resources. Such a force design will allow us to operate in diverse environments, while employing the abilities needed for future operational tasks."

But the big challenge is budget. The Israel Navy, as the smallest of the IDF's branches, has always had to fight hard to justify its claims on resources, particularly given the large capital costs associated with major naval acquisitions.

Certainly, the case for additional submarines has been well made as in late 2005 it was announced that Israel was negotiating the purchase of two further Dolphin-class boats to a modified and enhanced design. Both boats will have an additional 10 m section to accommodate an air-independent propulsion system based on fuel cell-technology, allowing them to stay submerged at depth for up to 14 days at a time.

The three original Dolphin-class submarines came to Israel on very favourable terms. Germany funded the first two boats entirely, with Israel in the end paying for just half the cost of the third submarine. This time, only one-third of the USD1.2 billion acquisition programme will be funded by the German government; the remaining two-thirds will have to be funded through the national defence budget.

Yet despite the cost, there was broad support in the IDF and the MoD to increase the size of the submarine force. "The value of submarines is very well understood given their ability to conduct covert intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at long range," remarks Vice Adm Ben-Bashat.

New surface ships are not such an easy sell. Nevertheless, after several years debating priorities for the future surface fleet - which saw arguments sway for and against new Saar 5+ corvettes and a large amphibious ship - the navy's senior command is confident that it can produce a compelling case for the procurement of two new multirole surface combatants. Furthermore, there is a clear aspiration that the design should be a variant of the US Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

Earlier studies to define a new-generation surface combatant defined requirements for a putative 'Saar 5+' multirole corvette, displacing between 2,800 and 3,000 tons, optimised for littoral dominance and an increased capability to counter asymmetric threats. Compared to the three Saar 5 corvettes, the new Saar 5+ vessels would be substantially larger and feature an improved air-warfare and land-attack capability. They would also offer significant anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare capabilities, together with facilities to operate and support a medium-size helicopter.

LCS studies

As with the Saar 5 corvettes, the navy plans that the new ships should be built in the US using US Foreign Military Funding. However, the high non-recurring engineering costs associated with producing a unique design optimised for Israel Navy needs alone has forced a re-think of the original procurement strategy.

"Joining the LCS programme offers us the chance to leverage the price efficiencies that come from series production," a senior Israel Navy source observes. "This means the cost of the 'seaframe' will be considerably less than a bespoke Saar 5+. It will also help us contain lifecycle costs."

As a result, the Israel Navy has commenced a two-year study to appraise the feasibility of using the Lockheed Martin LCS 'seaframe' as the basis for its next- generation surface combatant under the informal designation LCS-I ('I' denoting either/or Israel or International). Work is examining the cost-effectiveness of adopting the semi-planing monohull design to meet the Israel Navy's specific requirements, specifically the level of modification to accommodate a combat system based on systems and equipment largely sourced from Israeli industry. Parallel combat system feasibility study activities will be led by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon with support from Israeli industry.

A major aspect of the LCS-I platform study is to assess the feasibility of integrating a new topside structure - hosting a four-face phased-array multifunction radar - into the design. It is understood that the IAI Elta Systems EL/M-2248 MF-STAR active phased-array radar is the Israel Navy's preferred choice. This would provide volume search, detection, classification and missile uplink commands for the new Barak-8 active radar homing missile being developed by IAI MBT Systems in association with Rafael.

Israel Navy sources have indicated that Barak-8, which will have a range of 70 to 80 km, will be fired from a tactical length Mk 41 vertical launcher system. This would also allow for the outload of other Mk 41-compatible weapons such as VL ASROC; the latter has been baselined as part of an anti-submarine warfare suite that would also include a low-frequency active sonar, launchers for Mk 46 Mod 5 lightweight torpedoes, and a torpedo defence system.

Another key capability is land attack. IAI's MBT division, through the Harpoon Extended Performance (HEP) programme, has already introduced selected modifications to the Israel Navy's Harpoon missile inventory, most notably a two-way guided-weapon datalink supplied by Tadiran Spectralink.

For the future, the Israel Navy is looking at a winged guided-weapon - believed to be an advanced HEP evolution - with a range of up to 200 km, an ability to loiter, and capable of precise aimpoint selection through either imaging electro-optical or coherent radar seekers. Two-way communications would allow for data exchange during the mission and provide for operator interaction throughout all mission phases.

The Israel Navy is looking to earmark funding for the first of two LCS-I vessels in the IDF's 2009 equipment budget. Current planning assumptions foresee entry into service in the 2014-15 timeframe.

Another area where Vice Adm Ben-Bashat - indeed the Israel Navy as a whole - sees enormous potential is in the area of unmanned vehicles. "We are embracing a wide range of unmanned modes of operation, such as unmanned surface vehicles [USVs] and unmanned aerial vehicles, which will improve operational performance while streamlining costs and minimising the threat to human life."

He adds: "I believe that USVs will, in the longer term, have an even greater impact in the maritime domain than they have already in the air. They reduce our vulnerability and drive down manning to offer us a real force multiplier."

An operational evaluation of Rafael's Protector USV began in 2005, with the Israel Navy assessing how the vehicle could be used in an anti-terror/force-protection role as an adjunct to its patrol craft. Naval sources believe the USV shows much promise, although they point out that they are evaluating Protector "as a concept, not as a product".


decision to approve initial funding for two multi- mission ships currently based on an LCS-I design that would include anti-air, anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-missile warfare missions, as well as special operations. (http://defense-update.com/newscast/1...41107_lcsi.htm) Now, that's a package of tasks far more comprehensive than most navies would have their FACs perform. Perhaps the Israeli needs are somewhat different and go beyond that for a 'pure' FAC for sea denial. Certainly, they face different naval threats than 30 years ago.

The reason why they want bigger hulls is precisely because FACs were totally unsatisfactory in these areas which were crucial to the boats' survivability and effectiveness. That is why they had to migrate to bigger hulls and abandon FACs. So thanks for proving my point.

Have a look at this list of corvette classes. You claim 62m/600 tons as corvette. However in most cases, there is a clear break somewhere between 500-1000 ton 1000-2000 ton or under/over 750 tons. All are labelled corvette, but those under 750-1000 are rather typically craft with a hull built for speed rather than seakeeping and endurance. They are in fact FAC's on steroids. Those 62m 500-600 tons 'corvettes' are much much closer to what is traditional termed FAC then they are to corvettes.
Can you explain why e.g. the Saar 4.5 is classified as FAC and the Victory class as corvette? The Hellenic Navy currently operates the Super Vita-class ships, which are 580 tons[vague] full load. The Hellenic Navy has categorised the class as fast attack missile craft. A similar vessel is the Kilic-class fast attack missile craft of the Turkish Navy, which is classified as a corvette by Lürssen Werft, the German designer of the ship. Is Visby really anything other but a very large FAC and if yes, then what makes specifically it a corvette?

I have seen a good definition that describes a corvette as the largest combatant incapable of independent deployment. Likewise, the same article states a frigate as the smallest combatant capable of independent operations. MY point was never to argue on what defines a FAC. My point was on the limitations of a FAC, something which you seem keen to deny by diverting attention towards what qualifies as a FAC. The point is that FACs are unacceptably small to the point that they are ineffective. As the Victory class corvette shows, even 62m designs, which some call corvette and some call FACs, (call it a dinghy boat if it suits yourself) suffer the same issues, only to a lesser extent. When you get to frigate sizes, then the issues start to really go away.

So, there was no step up in armament from a 20mm gatling on the PG 1-go patrol hydrofoil to a 76mm in the Haybusa? Or a step up in tonnage from 50 to 200 (and thus in seakeeping and endurance)? Or in terms of sensors? In fact, you have no evidence to the effect that armament choices for these ships have anything to do with the (perceived) (in)effectiveness of hardkill measures on small boats. That's just your interpetation.

What's your point about the 76mm? Yes, there is a step up in tonnage, which kind of proves my point. The Hayabusa seems more dedicated towards interception of N Korean intruders rather than attack of major surface combatants. The limited numbers acquired and their basing at Sasebo, Ominato and Maizuru districts certainly supports that.

Incidentally, in Italian service that same dinky 50 ton hydrofoil carriers a 76mm with no problems.

Just because it carries a 76mm doesn't mean there isn't problems. How do you know vibration issues aren't a problem? You could place the theoretical loadout of the Saar V listed in wiki on the vessel. You wanna say the same thing that they would work well? Go see what it does to stability?

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Everybody wants to be a cruiser these days. Make it mini call it frigate, make it micro call it corvette. Multi-tasking (and the aviation complex) is a sure way to get large and expensive crafts. Nothing that can land a helicopter can be called a FAC. A FAC is an offensive, single task short range attack craft. No expeditionary stuff, no blue water battles, no multi-something. Can it operate alone? No. But these days not even a sub is mission effective alone.

Wanshan is right about ambitions resulting in mission creep and supersize-me FACs. No technical necessities. Want a useful FAC concept? Take a Skjold design (lightness, speed, seakeeping, volume, LO), install a Palma complex instead of the 3in DPG, put Hermes or NetFires on it for the small stuff, and four long-range AShM or 21" torpedos as offensive weapons. And if your sensors are not high enough above the water use a telescoping mast, or put a ScanEagle launch rail on the craft. Can see far, can hit near and far, can defend itself. All in under 300ts.

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Quite amazing how you get your info wrong so often.

Yes, see your own post 19, about Iraqi FACs having 76mm guns etc

The Saar 4.5 is 'fitted for but not with' the Barak system. Don't be deceived by all the armaments shown on websites for Saar class. They can't carry them all at once without severe sacrifice in seakeeping ability.

"The Hetz class missile craft is equipped with three types of missile systems: Barak, Harpoon, and Gabriel II."
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/hetz.htm

The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World by Eric Wertheim (p333)
Lists as part of armement of the Nirit class: "4 8-round Barak point-defence SAM vertical launch groups".
In the discussion of its combat systems, it is stated: "The four Barak vertical launch groups are recessed into the after deck. The radar directors are mounted on platforms abreastr the tower mast..... Herev as completed was equipped with dual davids for RIB combat swimmer craft: the craft lacked gun and missile f.c. radars and probably does not have Barak missile facilities"
See also this link (different edition)

"Israel's Ministry of Defence has approved the continuation of theNirit (Saar 4.5) class upgrade programme with two existing vesselsin line for hybrid work.The Nirit-class fast attack craft (FAC) is a 'modernisation bycannibalisation' programme. The upgraded Nirit is described as ahybrid descendant of the smaller Saar 4-class vessel, butincorporates a new hull with a low-radar-signature mast, new fire-control detectors, updated sensors and four eight-cell launchers forBarak point-defence missiles. ... The Nirit combat system comprises a foredeck Vulcan Phalanx close-in weapon system, a 76mm OTO Melara compact aftdeck gun mount withIsrael Aircraft Industries Mabat Gabriel middle-range surface-to-surface missile (SSM) launchers, eight Boeing long-range Harpoon SSMlaunchers and 32 Barak anti-missile vertical launchers."
http://www.janes.com/articles/Janes-Defence-Weekly-98/ISRAELI-SAAR-PROJECT-TO-GO-AHEAD.html

"Outstanding features of this class of missile boats include very high survivability, extensive power and weapon systems designed for the naval arena. Advanced weapon systems include improved Gabriel missiles, Harpoon missiles, Barak anti-missile missiles, 76 mm guns, anti-aircraft guns, innovative night vision equipment, electronic warfare systems developed in Israel, a new radar system and a command & control system."
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/saar1.html

Oh, what's that behind those Gabriel launch boxes?

http://img.blog.yahoo.co.kr/ybi/1/24/56/shinecommerce/folder/33/img_33_3701_8?1148143194.jpg

http://img.blog.yahoo.co.kr/ybi/1/24/56/shinecommerce/folder/33/img_33_3701_3?1148143194.jpg

http://kr.blog.yahoo.com/shinecommerce/3701.html?p=1&t=2
http://kr.blog.yahoo.com/shinecommerce/8823.html?p=1&t=3

Most Sa'ar boats operate with a reduced weapon payload during peace-time (including Saar 5, which incidentally no longer uses its rear VLUs for Barak, not Gabriels, due to top weight and stability problems. Funny how that had to happen with Israels biggest ships ...) It has been israeli practise even with earlier Saar ships to mix and match armament according to mission and threat (e.g. Gabriels with either 2 76mm or 1 76mm + 1 40mm, or no Gabriels but 3 40mm on Saar 2/3)

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Yes, see your own post 19, about Iraqi FACs having 76mm guns etc

Now this is really a moment of desperation on your part eh? The ex-kuwati boats were under Iraqi control, and hence I called them Iraqi FACs. Wilfully trying to ignore context here huh? You must have really spent quite a bit of effort scouring my previous posts trying to find any tiny bit you can pass off as an error - for that I commend you for the effort, not the result. BTW, couldn't find anything to back up your claim that I said the Iraqis had 'fully mastered' the ex-kuwaiti FACs? :rolleyes:

Oh, what's that behind those Gabriel launch boxes?

Yeah yeah, looking at paper specs, as always. Look at the date of that Jane's article -1998. You think I hadn't read the article? :rolleyes:

Here's the full one.

MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA , ISRAELI SAAR PROJECT TO GO AHEAD
JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY
________________________________________
DATE: 02-Sep-1998
EDITION: 1998
VOLUME/ISSUE: 030/009
BY LINE:

ALISON CLAYTON JDW Staff Reporter
TAMIR ESHEL JDW Correspondent
London and Tel Aviv

TEXT:

Israel's Ministry of Defence has approved the continuation of the
Nirit (Saar 4.5) class upgrade programme with two existing vessels
in line for hybrid work.
The Nirit-class fast attack craft (FAC) is a 'modernisation by
cannibalisation' programme. The upgraded Nirit is described as a
hybrid descendant of the smaller Saar 4-class vessel, but
incorporates a new hull with a low-radar-signature mast, new fire-
control detectors, updated sensors and four eight-cell launchers for
Barak point-defence missiles. However, much of the remaining
equipment has been cannibalised from scrapped Saar 4s. The Nirit-
class missile FAC has a displacement of 490 tons, a maximum speed of
32kt. Recently, engines were replaced by MTU 16V 396TEs.
The Nirit combat system comprises a foredeck Vulcan Phalanx close-
in weapon system, a 76mm OTO Melara compact aftdeck gun mount with
Israel Aircraft Industries Mabat Gabriel middle-range surface-to-
surface missile (SSM) launchers, eight Boeing long-range Harpoon SSM
launchers and 32 Barak anti-missile vertical launchers. Further
weapon systems include long-range Rafael chaff rocket launchers, two
foundations for 20mm guns on the bridge wings, four Spigots for 0.5
heavy machine guns on the bridge wings and the main deck. All weapon
systems are fully integrated into the electronic support systems.
Special attention has been given to electronic countermeasures and
fire-control systems. These include the Elta surveillance and air-
search radar, including an identification-friend-or-foe system,
which also operates as a navigation radar. The two new Nirit-class
vessels are thought likely to be the former Saar 4 fast attack craft
INS Romach and INS Keshet, previously slated to be upgraded to Nirit
standard but subject to delays.
The navy is due to receive six Saar 4.5 Nirit-class vessels. Hetz
was the first of the Nirit class while Kidon and Tarshish completed
their Nirit modernisation in 1994 and 1995, respectively. The latest
Nirit-class vessel to be completed and handed over to the navy on 1
July was the Yaffo, one of the Reshef (Saar 4) class.

Now why do you think the 2006 article shows the Saar 4.5 as 'fitted for but not with'? Perhaps experience showed that the heavy armament fit simply wasn't so good on seakeeping? And even after the cutbacks look at how many Barak linked FCRs they could place on the mast? One. In an awkward position. So sorry you prefer looking at undated pics showing Saar 4.5s in calm seas to what their R.Adm says, but suit yourself.

[QUOTE]Most Sa'ar boats operate with a reduced weapon payload during peace-time (including Saar 5, which incidentally no longer uses its rear VLUs for Barak, not Gabriels, due to top weight and stability problems. Funny how that had to happen with Israels biggest ships ...) It has been israeli practise even with earlier Saar ships to mix and match armament according to mission and threat (e.g. Gabriels with either 2 76mm or 1 76mm + 1 40mm, or no Gabriels but 3 40mm on Saar 2/3) [/QUOTE

Never occurred to you that they had to do that because they couldn't carry all at once and be effective warships? :rolleyes: The Saar V is another example of what happens when you try to squeeze too much armament onto too small a hull size. Same problem as that of FACs, and only proving my point from another direction. They had to settle for far less in terms of armament (now if that affects the larger Saar V, how do you think that affects the smaller Saar 4.5? But suit yourself, 'they took out the armament only because it's peacetime' :D). The point is that at around 62m hulls onwards you start getting satisfactory space to outfit a vessel satisfactorily for effectiveness. If you do something stupid like trying to fit a destroyer armament/sensor fit onto a corvette sized vessel (as in the case of a Saar V), you'd still get stability issues. Common sense, but you're beginning to prove you don't quite have that.

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From http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/me_mb_ai.pdf (2004)

page 22:
"Israel has 18 additional missile craft – including seven Sa’ar 4.5 (Hetz)-class ships with eight Harpoons and six Gabriels each. It has two Sa’ar 4.5 (Aliya)-class ships with 4 Harpoons and 4 Gabriels. It retains two Sa’ar 4 (Reshef) class missile patrol boats for spaces. The Sa’ar 4.5s have been extensively modernized under the Nirit (4.5)-class upgrade program which incorporates a “modernization by cannibalization” approach, scrapping much of
the material from the Sa’ar 4s while outfitting the vessels with new hulls, low-radar-signature masts, new firecontrol detectors, updated sensors, and four eight-cell launchers for Barak point-defense missiles. All Sa’ar 2s and 3s have been retired.(38)"

page 83:
(38) Jane’s Fighting Ships, various editions; IISS, Military Balance, various editions.

From http://www.seawaves.com/newsletters/TDIH/july/17Jul.txt

2006 - The Israel Navy began evaluating the possibility that guided missile vessels could be deployed around Haifa Bay to provide a defensive shield against rockets fired by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The vessels would be equipped with the Barak anti-missile system normally carried by ships such as the Saar-5 and Saar-4.5 class corvettes. The Navy's department for armaments and the Defense Ministry's Weapons Development Authority are responsible for the evaluation

From http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/barak.html

Barak Missiles
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The development of the Barak missile by the Israel industry and the Navy began approximately eleven years ago. The Barak missile can destroy attacking missiles, and can target and attack various airborne targets such as aircraft, unmanned aircraft and various bombs. It can also damage enemy ships.

The Barak missile is fired from a vertical launcher, which saves valuable space on the ship deck and enables 360 degree range around the ship. According to plans, 64 missiles will be placed on Saar 5 missile boats and 32 on Nirit class Saar 4.5 missile boats.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: Israel Defense Forces.

From http://www.janes.com/extracts/extract/jsws/jsws0168.html

Title
Barak/ADAMS/'Relampago'/Defender (Israel)

Section
Defensive weapons

Appearing in
Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems

Publication date
Jan 02, 2009

Type
Short-range, ground- and ship-based, solid propellant, theatre defence missile.

Development
Studies for the development of a small and lightweight vertically launched surface-to-air missile started in Israel in 1979. The Barak 1 ship-based system, designed and developed jointly by IAI and Rafael, was first seen at the 1983 Paris Air Show. Vertical launch trials started in 1984, and the first trials engagement of a simulated sea-skimming missile was successfully completed in 1986. Sea trials began in 1989. Barak 1 is fitted to Hetz-class fast attack craft (FAC) (Saar 4.5) with 16 or 32 cell vertical launchers, and to Eilat-class corvettes (Saar 5) with two 32 cell vertical launchers for the Israeli Navy. The missile is also being fitted to Prat (ex-UK County)-class destroyers with two octuple launchers for the Chilean Navy, and Singapore is adding two octuple Barak launchers to its Victory-class corvettes. A scaled-up version of the Barak missiles, designated AB-10 was proposed as a short range ATBM in 1987, but this programme was terminated in 1989. A ground-based version, known as ADAMS (Air Defence Anti-Missile System), was reported to be in development in 1991, with up to 12 vertically launched missiles carried on an 8 × 8 wheeled vehicle together with the tracking radar and an electro-optical sensor for use in heavy ECM environments. Hughes Missile Systems (now Raytheon Missile Systems) proposed the ADAMS missile combined with the Phalanx gun as the HVSD/ADAMS for the US DoD high value site defence system. In 1994, a ground-based Barak system was again offered for export, this time called 'Relampago' and mounted

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From: http://www.amiinter.com/nspd_sample.html

Naval Systems Projections Database
The Naval Systems Projections Database (herein after referred to as NSPD) was developed by AMI International to serve as a means of assisting clients in entered orders forecasting, future market potential analysis, and future competitive market share analysis.

Ship Types
Vessel type categories were developed to describe the worldwide market with the degree of fidelity necessary to be accurate and meaningful for business development and strategic marketing purposes. The vessel type definitions are provided at the end of this document as well as via a link on our homepage.

NSPD Field Definitions
General Program Data Fields
Vessel Types
AMI categorizes vessel types on the basis of ship function, size, speed, armament, and overall sensor/combat system capability. The detail characteristics of different vessel types is described at the end of this document.

This field serves as a means to categorize the various vessel types into general segments in order that this field can serve the need of quickly sorting the entire ship naval future market into discernable segments. This should be meaningful for business development and strategic marketing purposes.

Vessel Type Definitions

Frigates (FF or FFG)

A frigate is a medium-sized surface combatant (between 2,000 and 5,000 tons) that is either suited for one specific role (anti-submarine warfare or anti-air warfare), or has lesser all-around capabilities than a destroyer. A frigate may be less capable than a destroyer, but is still a relatively sophisticated and expensive (averaging around US$325 million apiece) platform. A frigate is generally the smallest surface combatant that can conduct extended blue-water missions in a high-threat environment.

Corvettes (FS)

Corvettes are fast (around 25 knots or better), well-armed ships that displace between 700 and 2000 tons. A corvette is generally not intended for extended ocean-going operations, and is best suited for regional operations. Corvettes are generally the smallest platforms capable of accommodating the sensors, weapons, and combat systems needed to operate in a medium threat environment. Corvettes are sometimes referred to as light frigates (FFLs). It can be assumed that the hull design for a corvette and that of an offshore patrol vessel are very similar. The differences will be in propulsion and outfitting. Corvettes will have higher speed and therefore less endurance and range than OPV, much greater armament, and less space for provisions and habitability.

Fast Attack Craft (FAC, also referred to as PTGs or PCGs)

FACs are small (under 700 tons), fast (over 25 knots) vessels that are intended for quick, hit-and-run strike operations within 100 miles of the coast. FACs are primarily armed for a limited anti-surface warfare (ASUW) mission. They may bristle with a number of guns, torpedoes, and surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) and thus present a credible threat to surface ships. However, a FAC lacks the range, seakeeping qualities and defensive systems needed to operate independently for any extended length of time in a high or medium-threat environment. FACs are generally employed by nations that plan to operate them close to shore, or in the shelter of archipelagoes (e.g. the Aegean, Norwegian fjords, or the South China Sea). Generally, FAC hulls are thin and made of aluminum or steel. Because of their thin hulls, modifications are more difficult to make and life expectancy is reduced.

Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV)

In response to a number of environmental and economic concerns, world navies and/or coast guards developed a type of patrol vessel, the OPV, which is capable of patrolling the waters of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for extended lengths of time. By virtue of its mission, an OPV must be relatively large (generally over 700 tons) to possess the necessary range and seakeeping characteristics needed for extended offshore patrols. The higher in latitude a Navy operates (North or South of the Equator), the larger the wave heights and therefore the larger an OPV will be. For example India operates in waters that are known for very rough conditions. Some Indian OPVs are beyond 2,000 tons displacement. An OPV is often built to commercial standards and is slower (generally around 20 knots) than its corvette and frigate cousins. However, some nations will build OPVs with space and weight margins for future weapons upgrades. These types of OPVs will generally be built to naval standards including hull and equipment shock requirements. An OPV is generally lightly armed (a medium-sized gun), but is sometimes fitted to carry surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) or ASW equipment in wartime. Most new construction OPVs are also equipped with a helicopter deck and hangar to enhance its patrol capabilities. It can be assumed that the hull design for a corvette and that of an offshore patrol vessel are very similar. The differences will be in propulsion and outfitting for each application. Offshore patrol vessels will have slower speed, less armament, and greater space for provisions and habitability thereby allowing for greater endurance and range.

Patrol Vessels

This vessel type category will include the following patrol vessel types:

Patrol Boat (PBs) - Patrol Boats are smaller than OPVs and larger than PCs, thus filling the range between 100 and 700 tons. A PB is designed for multi-day patrol operations (anti-smuggling, search and rescue, coastal security, etc.) in coastal waters. A PB is often armed with a small to medium caliber gun (typically a 76mm and/or 40mm gun) and machine guns. It may also be fitted for, but not with, surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs).
Patrol Craft (PC) - Patrol craft are small (under 100 tons) and are intended to conduct short patrols (anti-smuggling, search and rescue, harbor security, etc.) in relatively sheltered coastal waters, harbors, or rivers. Patrol craft are lightly armed (usually machine guns) and have limited range.