Israel has inaugurated its fifth Dolphin-class submarine, allegedly capable of launching cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. There is a sixth submarine being built for Israel. The submarines are advanced diesel electric submarines.
After the submarine is fully equipped and passes all tests, it will cost $500 million and will enter service as possibly the most sophisticated and expensive weapon of Israeli Navy. Delivery to client is reportedly expected by the end of 2013.
In June 2012, Der Spiegel reported that Germany is actually strengthening Israel’s nuclear capabilities. The magazine claimed that Dolphin-class submarines are equipped with hydraulic ejection systems that enable the underwater launch of Israeli Popeye Turbo SLCM long-range cruise missiles, believed to have nuclear warheads.
Israel’s Popeye cruise missile is believed to have a range of up to 1500km and carry a 200kg payload, enough to fit in a nuclear warhead. The first launch of the missile was carried out in 2002 in the Indian Ocean.
Thus the German-built submarines are believed to be the backbone of the Israeli nuclear deterrent against Iran.
Israeli Dolphin-class submarines:
INS Dolphin – commissioned 1999
INS Leviathan (Whale) – commissioned 2000
INS Tekumah (Revival) – commissioned 2000
INS Tannin (Crocodile) – delivered May 3, 2012, to be commissioned in 2013
INS Rahav (Demon) – delivery expected by the end 2013
Popeye Turbo SLCM is reportedly stretched version of the Popeye Turbo missile developed for use as a submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) was widely reported in a US Navy observed 2002 test in the Indian Ocean to have hit a target at 1500 km, it can allegedly carry a 200 kt nuclear warhead. It is believed that the stretched Popeye Turbo is the primary strategic second strike nuclear deterrent weapon that can be fired from the 650 mm secondary torpedo tubes of the Israeli Dolphin-class submarines. It is believed that the SLCM version of the Popeye was developed by Israel after the US Clinton administration refused an Israeli request in 2000 to purchase Tomahawk long range SLCM's because of international MTCR proliferation rules. While the standard Popeye is 533 mm the Dolphin class submarines have four 650 mm torpedo tubes in addition to the six standard 533 mm tubes allowing for the possibility that a SLCM Popeye derivative may be a larger diameter.