Thursday, October 19, 2006

Submarine Nuclear Deterrence on a (Relative) Shoestring

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said earlier today that the Jewish state was "illegitimate" and could not survive.

To be effective, Israel's newest Dolphin submarines (ordered in July, 2006) must be delivered and their crews trained before Iran manages to tip its first, medium-range missile with a nuclear warhead. Israel knows pretty well when such capability will exist and has planned this purchase with ample lead time.

Germany will absorb one-third of the $1.3 billion bill for the diesel-electric propulsion systems that allow the new subs to remain submerged longer than the three nuclear arms-capable submarines already in Israel's fleet, the Jerusalem Post
reported. The Jerusalem Post had reported in late August that the new subs will be operational shortly (sounds like a firm order had been placed before July, doesn't it?).

The latest submarines would provide Israel with crucial second-strike capabilities, according to London-based independent defense analyst Paul Beaver. Israel is believed to have land-based (Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles), which are buried so far underground they would survive a nuclear strike, according to Beaver.

Michael Karpin, an expert on Israel's atomic weapons capabilities, said nuclear-armed submarines provide better second-strike capabilities than missiles launched from airplanes.
"Planes are vulnerable, unlike nuclear (armed) submarines that can operate for an almost unlimited amount of time without being struck," Karpin said. "Second-strike capabilities are a crucial element in any nuclear conflict."

Who wants to bet that Israel's crews have already trained on existing Dolphins, in contractor's launch systems facilities, etc.?

Think $1.3 billion is alot? The total acquisition costs of the UK's Trident programme are £12.57 billion (about $24 billion).


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