Dakar could be Israel‘s plan for a new submarine to house its underwater nuclear weapons arsenal – The new Dakar-class appears to sport an elongated sail that could be used to house newer, longer-range ballistic missiles.
Dakar-class: What Sort of Submarine Is This?
Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, the company behind some of Germany’s potent submarine and surface ship designs, reached an agreement with the Israeli Navy for a total of three new submarines. The new submarines, called the Dakar-class, will replace the first tranche of Israel’s older Dolphin-class, also built in Germany for the Israeli Navy.
Speaking on behalf of Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, the company’s CEO Dr. Rolf Wirtz explained that “we, as thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and Germans, are honoured and proud to continue the long cooperation – spanning decades – with the Israeli Ministry of Defence and the Israeli Navy. The new submarine class will provide Israel with the most advanced capabilities, based on an innovative, cutting-edge technology.”
“This agreement demonstrates the deep commitment of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to guarantee Israel’s long-term security,” Dr. Wirtz elaborated. “It was signed after a thorough and extensive groundwork process, and I would like to thank our partners in the Ministry of Defence and the Israeli Navy for their commitment and professionalism.”
The negotiations preceding the signed agreement, which resulted in contractual and technical agreements, further solidify Israel’s special relationship with the German shipbuilding industry. Germany has partially subsidized previous submarine sales as reparations linked to the country’s role against Jews during World War II.
In thyssenkrupp’s statement, Dr. Wirtz explained, “in the last joint project with the Israeli Navy, the SA’AR-6 project, we delivered four corvettes on time and within budget. In this respect, we are very much looking forward to working with our longstanding partner again.”
Indeed, the company has expended 250 million euros in preparation for the order, investing in new shipbuilding infrastructure and a fuel-cell production facility.
Dakar Submarines Built for Nuclear War?
The new Dakar-class will be an entirely new design, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems explained, stating that the submarines will be “specifically engineered to fulfill the operational requirements of the Israeli Navy.”
Computer-generated artwork of the new submarines adds an aura of mystery to the Dakar-class. The image shows a Dakar with an exceptionally long sail atop the submarine’s hull form. Though the artwork could be provisional – no Dakars are known to have been built – it could indicate a new capability for the German-designed Israeli subs.
A rather long sail would offer the submarine additional internal volume and could be used to house special operations soldiers or equipment – or potentially longer submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Considering potential Israeli interest in hypersonic weapons, which are generally longer than their conventional counterparts, and in a burgeoning power projection capability, it is little wonder that the new Dakar-class may carry additional ballistic missiles.
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson