The Israeli Navy maintains a high level of secrecy surrounding its submarine capabilities. And the latest boat, the INS Dragon, is more secretive than most. This may be driven by new weapon capabilities, possibly including a vertical launch system (VLS).
Israel’s latest Dolphin Class submarine, INS Dragon (‘Drakon’ in Hebrew) which is under sea trials in Kiel, Germany, is extremely camera shy. It is possible that the submarine may have been increased in length compared to earlier boats of the same class. The same could be true for the follow-on 3 boats currently on order. This would match rumors that the new submarine has been fitted with a vertical launch system (VLS).
Israeli media reported on January 18 that the cost of Israel’s submarines has increased significantly. While reports cover the three follow-on boats, this resonates with the increased size and capability of the submarines from INS Dragon forward. It is the latest in a chain of very small hints about Israel’s newest submarines.
A VLS would imply a significant leap in capabilities. Israel’s Dolphin-I and Dolphin-II class submarines are already equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles. But they are shot through the torpedo tubes. The inclusion of a VLS implies either more weapons, or our bet, new weapons.
If correct, the Israeli submarine is only the second modern AIP equipped submarine in the world designed with this capability. The first being the South Korean KSS-III class which has only recently entered service. The two classes can be seen as part of a wider trend to fit VLS on conventionally powered submarines.
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