The Israeli navy successfully completed complex training exercises recently. This is all in order to prepare for potential attacks from the Hizbullah in Lebanon. The exercises included defensive and offensive actions by Israeli missile boats, including shooting down a drone.
The Israeli Navy
Israel, compared to some other larger counties, has a tiny coastline. Yet the navy has become increasingly important to defending the country.
“The importance of the sea for Israel is very clear. Everything in the country comes via the sea. Israel can never be in the position where its waters are not protected,” one senior naval officer told a Jerusalem Post reporter back in a February interview. It is not just an issue of terrorist attacks. It is also about natural resources and business interests that need to be protected by the Navy.
Israel’s offshore natural gas
The real military challenge Israel’s Navy has is to defend Israel’s recent discoveries of natural gas in the Mediterranean Ocean.
Until a few years ago, Israel was energy dependent on other countries. Israel had no natural energy resources. Yet, beginning in the early 2000’s, Israel began finding natural gas pockets offshore. Since then, Israel has became energy independent and an exporter of natural gas to other countries in the world, including Egypt. Today, Israel’s natural gas finds supply around 60% (and soon 75%) of Israel’s electricity.
This requires us to have a strong, powerful and effective naval force.
Recent Navy Training
In this week’s training exercise, an unmanned aircraft simulated a missile threat against an offshore oil rig. A missile boat took part in the exercise and identified the threat posed by the simulated “missile.” Then, the missile boat used its “Barak” defensive system and opened fire on the drone. The system successfully shot it down and neutralized the threat.
The exercise also simulated offensive actions against enemy ships. They succeeded at firing missiles at the targets, hit and destroyed them.
Col. Adar Gershon, the commander of the exercise, said that “the training contributed to the readiness and the increase of preparedness among the naval fighters. The missile squadrons are prepared and ready for all threats in the maritime sector.”
Offshore Gas Rigs
“Eight years ago Israel’s EEZ (the offshore natural gas rigs) were not significant. But, since then, we have had a game-changer” he said.
“The fact that [there are] gas storage centers for our energy is both a positive and a negative,” the officer said. He explained that the rigs are clear targets for enemies on Israel’s northern border.
Hezbollah has long-range missiles, including precision ballistic missiles received from Iran. These can hit the rigs and ships that protect the rigs.
“We believe that Hezbollah has the ability to strike any spot in our waters,” the senior naval officer stated.
An Inside Look at Israeli Navy Basic Training