Israel Shipyards’ newly designed SA’AR S-72 platform offers both offensive and defensive capabilities for the littoral zone. “One of the challenges was to design a platform that provides defensive and “overwhelming offensive capabilities” the shipbuilder informed Mönch, describing it as, “a new generation of the famous SA’AR class fast attack mine corvettes.”
This particular challenge is linked to the demand of a number of ‘blue water’ navies that, “do not have enough budget for very big and mission-specialised frigates,” but still need a high-performance, highly sophisticated multipurpose platform, the company stated, adding that the major aim is to gradually replace the existing inventory of SA’AR 4.5 platforms built for the Israeli Navy in the late 1990s.
The navy’s demand for a new-generation corvette/light frigate-type combatant, conceived over the past several years, “was the basis that we presented to our design department as a guideline for the development of the S-72,” Israel Shipyards noted. “We assume that [the Israeli Navy] has two basic problems with the SA’AR 4.5. The first one is the age of the boats, including the equipment, and second the [increasing] costs [for] maintenance.”
Addressing the issue of risk in proposing the design to the navy, a company representative said that there is a lack of capacity for additional modern electronic systems such as radars and EW systems, as well as newer, heavier weapon systems for both offensive and defensive purposes. Asked if Israel Shipyards believed the scale of technology drivers inherent in the design of the S-72 – by comparison with the SA’AR 4.5 – will match those of other customers, the spokesman stated that the very first definition of the new vessel was very simple: “It must be better in every technical parameter compared to the SA’AR 4.5.”
Following a meticulous design process, Israel Shipyards achieved much greater vessel stability and an enhanced ability to operate in rough seas. Additionally, there has been a significant improvement in the ship’s armament (with an increased effective range) and its EW payload. Summing up, the shipyard noted that, with the S-72, it now can offer new and improved capabilities that did not exist in the SA’AR 4.5, e.g. supporting the operation of a medium-size helicopter.
According to the shipbuilder’s own market research, the S-72 offers an ideal size. It is large enough to provide excellent performance at sea but not so large as to significantly increase its price tag. “We identified numerous countries that are in need of this type of vessel,” the company said.
As with the SA’AR 4.5 in the past, its most valuable customer will remain the Israeli Navy. “Our aim is that the S-72 will gradually replace all the SA’AR 4.5 [fast missile boats] now serving in the navy,” Israel Shipyards noted, adding that, “We are confident that the S-72 will fulfil all the requirements of the Israeli Navy with respect to operational performance at sea, offensive and defensive payloads, propulsion systems, infrastructure, and maintenance needs.”
Mönch was told that the shipyard is cooperating with the naval service in order to convert this project to reality as soon as possible.