Israel will purchase its sixth Dolphin submarine from Germany at the expense of $1 billion, officials announced Thursday, despite constant objections by the IDF echelon.
A special ministerial committee decided to accept the recommendations of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who promoted its purchase. Israel already operates three Dolphins and bought two more from Germany in 2006.
Dedicated to the security of the Jewish state founded in the wake of the Holocaust, Germany had sold those submarines at deep discounts. But Berlin, beset by budgetary constraints, balked in talks last year at similarly underwriting the sixth Dolphin.
Foreign reports said Thursday that the two vessels, expected to arrive this year, have the ability to carry nuclear warheads and are to be used in a possible counterattack against Iran, in the event that the latter launches an assault that paralyzes population centers in Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also promoted the deal as per Barak's recommendations, but military officials were wary – both the former and current IDF chiefs said during official hearings that there was no pressing need to acquire such an expensive piece of equipment.
The objections, however, were based solely on the high price – which is to be paid out of the defense budget – and not on the benefits a sixth submarine could afford the state.
Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz were not the only military officials opposed to the purchase of additional submarines. Former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz claimed back in 2006 that one submarine – rather than the two eventually purchased – was enough to carry out the missions allotted to the vessels.
The decision to buy the vessels was made initially by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and his successor, Ehud Olmert, decided to carry out the purchase.
Reuters contributed to this report