Israeli Navy packs warships with advanced weapons as IDF boosts sea-to-land combat capabilities against Hamas and Hezbollah.
The IDF recently held a drill in the southern town of Ashkelon to simulate Gaza war scenarios. Residents were surprised to see large IDF forces in full gear on the city’s streets, but a key element in the exercise was hidden from view: The Navy’s close cooperation with ground forces.
The IDF is transforming its naval arm into a key fighting force. During the drill, armored corps officers were stationed on every battleship to integrate sea and land capabilities. They relayed intelligence collected by the ships to tanks in the field, while taking requests for the Navy to hit land targets.
The IDF is equipping its missile boats with substantial firepower and intelligence gear, the Mako website reported. This will enable the Navy to eliminate high-value targets in Gaza, including rocket launch sites, terrorist headquarters and elusive rocket squads.
This week, the Shin Bet warned that the military buildup in Gaza poses the gravest terror threat to Israel on the Palestinian front. Security experts say that the IDF will ultimately have to dismantle the Hamas war machine, including its elite naval commandos.
The IDF is also concerned about Hezbollah’s naval capacity and its stockpile of land-to-sea rockets. In the 2006 Lebanon War, the group hit an Israeli warship with an advanced missile.
200 shells per minute
The Navy will play a central role in any future conflict in Gaza or Lebanon. Israel’s missile boats have been armed with precision-guided munitions and a powerful cannon that can fire up to 200 shells per minute with pinpoint accuracy, the Mako report said.
The IDF’s sea-to-land operations reflect the Navy’s changing combat doctrine. After the 2006 war, the army realized that it must shift the focus of its naval forces to eliminating growing threats on land, researcher Yaakov Lappin says.
To achieve this, the IDF is increasingly integrating its naval, air and land forces, Lappin wrote in a report for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
The Navy’s new Sa’ar 6 warship is a key piece in this puzzle with its advanced radar and interception gear, the article said. It added that the new corvette deploys more firepower per square meter than any similarly sized ship in the world.