Perhaps the Most Well Armed Cutter Sized Corvette in the World

Click on the illustration above for better view

More on the Israeli’s new Sa’ar 6 Corvette from Navy Recognition, particularly in regard to the C-Dome missile system (reporting a range of 250 km). It has been over six years since I did my first post on this class. At the time, I thought the Offshore Patrol Cutters might be close in size, but they are more than twice as large as the Israeli ships. Did a second post in Aug. 2015. and I have posted comments as additional details became available, but it is time for another look.

These will be the largest combatants in the Israeli Navy, but their dimensions are still quite modest:

  • displacement: 1900 tons
  • Length: 90 m (295.2′)
  • Beam: 13.5 m (44.3′)
  • Draft: 3.5 m (11.5)
  • Speed: 27 knots
  • Crew: 70

First of the class of four, INS Magen, has completed sea trials and the German shipbuilder has delivered it to the Israelis, who will install the Israel sourced weapon systems. The remaining ships are expected to follow at six month intervals.

Note, contrary to the labeling on the illustration, the 16 missiles amidships, shown in green, will be Gabriel V anti-ship missiles rather than Harpoons. (Gabriel V will also arm the new Finnish ice-capable corvette.)

Aviation facilities are also surprising. The ships are expected to support and hangar an H-60 ASW helicopter and may also support a vertical take-off Unmanned air system.

These ships are remarkable, for their size and crew strength (only 70), in being capable in all three primary warfare areas, ASW, ASuW, and AAW. Their capabilities exceed those of many frigates and approach those of DDGs four times their size.

With a total of eighty-eight missile launch tubes, assuming they are all filled, it seems these will be the most heavily armed ships of their size in the world.

40 thoughts on “Perhaps the Most Well Armed Cutter Sized Corvette in the World

  1. A very impressive ship in terms of weapons and sensors for its displacment. Also very few crew Israeli systems must be highly automated, the big con must be the range and buoyancy?

    Better than FFGx = Torpedos tubes, 2 x Rafael Typhoon, 76 mm.
    How is the radar compared with the one in the FFGx? and where is the sonar?

  2. I think the H-60 is the Sa’ars sole means of tracking a submerged sub. No organic sonar. Clearly the best AAW and surface for a ship this size going along with the smallest H-60 with full hangar. Not much for a boat launch. I’m more for seeing what the US could do with something like an Milgem/ADA, Gowind 2500, or Mexican POLA / Damen 10714. Obviously, the navy adopting a naval NSC and or OPC would be a great way to help themselves.

    • NSC is very expensive for the coast guard and with more sensors and armament it would cost like an FFGX, but yes the navy shoud have some corvettes from 2500 to 3500 tons (but no LCS)

      • It’s believed HII bid a derivative of the NSC for the FFGX.

        The specifics of their bid were never released publicly.

        It would have been interesting to see what they will attempting to do with the design and for how much.

      • From what I hear the Navy is looking at corvette sized designs. If they don’t screw it up. It could be an alternative to the OPC for the Coast Guard.

      • Truly, Chuck, where did you hear that the US Navy is interested in a corvette? I haven’t heard of the US Navy looking into a corvette option. The Swiftships 75m, if stretched or left “as is,” is an option because unlike other missile corvettes, the Swiftships 75m has an endurance of 25 days, not a week.

        I don’t believe HII ever disclosed their design of the NSC Frigate to the public.

        I would give the corvette option, if seriously considered in the US Navy, the powers and armaments that the NSC, OPC, LCS, and FFG(X) lack and that can range from having a sonar and including torpedo tubes, 76mm to VLS to Mk38s. It’s silly for the US Navy to abandon the 76mm/3-inch gun at the bow.

  3. While the Sa’ar 6 is certainly a very capable vessel, you are overselling it a bit. There are two key points where it falls short.

    First, while the Gabriel V has a modern seeker, it’s still built in the same vein as older anti-ship missiles and may actually be based on the Harpoon. This means it lacks the stealth or speed used by more modern weapons to defeat defensive weapons and will limit its effectiveness against more capable opponents. This probably makes sense for Israel since Iran isn’t exactly known for its missile defense, but against a country like China those 16 missiles may be less lethal than the 8 NSMs found on many ships in this size range. If you want more information on Gabriel V, this is probably the best online source:

    https://corporalfrisk.com/2018/07/16/a-further-look-at-the-gabriel-5/

    Second, as you noted that there are a large number of SAMs, but there are some serious limitations. Most notably, both the Barak 8 and Tamir have relatively short range which limits its ability to provide fleet air defense, a critical role for actual frigates (and not something Israel needs). I’m also a bit concerned about the lack of a point defense weapon (e.g. SeaRAM or Phalanx), but given Tamir’s track record and Iran’s less sophisticated missiles I can see why the left it off.

    Also note that it has an extremely short range and lacks a standoff torpedo like VL-ASROC, so you can clearly see where they made compromises to keep the size and cost down.

  4. The “Sa’ar 6” was delivered to Israel on 3 October 2020, because of Covid-19 related delays, and was commissioned as the INS “Magen” on 2 December 2020…

  5. From a purely Coast Guard perspective, I see where this hull could be a cheaper OPC or easily be the ultimate Cutter X. 2020 dollars its $196.25M without the combat system. For the 2 batches of German Corvette’s its based on fully equipped, cost is $363.25M and $370.8M. Those can land an NH-90 and can do it in the Baltic.

  6. I think that the US Navy policy has to change.

    I can definitely see the Israeli Sa’ar 6 as a replacement for the Patrol Coastals in the Gulf region, a job that the LCSs are weak at performing. Sure, the 40+ kts LCS can make great speedboats to catch “Go-Fasts” and Fast Attack Crafts; however, they don’t work properly and are poorly armed, even with eight NSMs on deck and Longbow Hellfire missiles. The Sa’ar 6 can be forward-deployed to Baharian or Japan and escort the upcoming LAWs and leave the ARGs and CSGs far away from the coast and ASCMs. Even at 27 kts, the Sa’ar 6, when outfitted with proper VLS missiles, can act as a deterrent in the region if 4-8 corvettes are in the area. As stated, the Sa’ar 6 is a well-balanced corvette with AAW, ASW, and ASuW weapons. Add a EPF or LCS as a Mission Package tanker, and the Sa’ar 6 has range in the Gulf or INDO-PACOM region where it is stationed, along with the ESBs.

    This upsets the ASCM plans of the peer nations by having mini-frigates, corvettes, LCS, and lighter, cheaper warships patrol these contested spots and keep ARGs and CSGs more in open ocean and closer to CONUS, acting as QRF to the much smaller, cheaper, and lighter warships stationed regionally to “keep the peace.”

    • It ISN’T US Navy Policy, but rather the “Jones Act of 1920” which prohibit’s the US Navy, USCG and US Merchant Marines for making “Direct” and “Indirect” purchases of Foreign Constructed Naval Vessels and/or Commercial Vessels. In May 2017, the Jone Act was amended to allow for Foreign Designs to be purchased, but constructed entirely within the United States. Unfortunately the author of that amendment Senator John McCain died in 2018, and no one else within the US Congress has taken up the cause to amend the Jone Act any further. It it weren’t for the 2017 amended Jone Act, there would have not have been an FFG(X) Replacement Competition…

      • OK, so leave it at the amended “Jones Act of 2017.”

        But US Navy requirements could be as simple as saying, “I want a clone of this NAME FOREIGN SHIP DESIGN” and have U.S. shipyards construct that as a copy complete with matching sensors, weapons fit, and capabilities all of US GFE origin. The FFG(X), Austal trimaran LCS, EPF, and SOCOM CB90 Riverine boats are foreign designs. So too is the Light Amphibious Warship.

        Many US Army, USMC, and USAF weapons systems are direct foreign designs. Five years later since 2017, I think the Sa’ar 6 in US Navy service is plausible, if a copied clone built in the USA.

        Anyway, my vouch was for the US Navy’s need for a VLS corvette or mini-frigate for Regional patrol and duties in seas and Gulf waters, similar to the ESBs sailing away from CONUS and never returning Stateside unless requiring massive overhaul or maintenance, in which the ESBs are never slated to return anyway.

      • The “Independence” class is constructed in Alabama by Austal-USA and not a Foreign Design, but rather a extreme modification of a foreign design. The only likeness of the Foreign Design and the “Independence” class is that their both Trimaran Hulled…

  7. Chuck, this is the first I’ve heard of the Navy seriously looking at corvette sized designs.

    I know there are those outside the Navy advocating this path but this is the first I’ve heard of the Navy serious studying the issue.

    I hope what you are hearing is accurate.

    • I just skimmed the article—very informative and a good read. The specs are interesting.

      I highly believe that the LMSC needs more armament than a 30mm and two .50cals and many missile corvettes and OPVs have better armament.

      The Ambassador III or IV missile corvette photo is misleading. Yes, it is a heavily armed ship for its corvette size, but the endurance is 8-11 days, way too short for a transoceanic voyage whereas a corvette like the Swiftships 75m (and I’m not promoting Swiftships here) has an endurance of 25 days at least with about the same armament. When it comes to the US Navy, they would want a ship that can sail 25 days to make it back to CONUS, at least, and have a helicopter hangar.

      And that is why I no longer support the Ambassador III or IV missile corvette because the presence sustained is too short. For littoral, patrol, or CONUS protection off the coast, the Ambassador corvettes make sense, but to deploy to INDO-PACOM, Middle East, Africa, or South America, one needs a corvette ship that can have an endurance of at least a month to get there, resupply via tankers and cargo ships, and then endure for the voyage back–it needs at least 30 days endurance. Even if forward-deployed, three weeks is better at sea than one week.

      • US Navy and USCG is prohibited from being able to use the “Ambassador” classes! Both classes are Export Vessels only…

      • @Secundius, what are you basing that on? ref: “US Navy and USCG is prohibited from being able to use the “Ambassador” classes! Both classes are Export Vessels only…”

      • The VT Halter Ambassador III/IV has been available since 2008, and yet NONE are in US Navy Service. One has to wonders as to WHY, unless the US Senate won’t allow the US Navy to use them…

      • Swiftships 75, even in recently revised form, is just vaporware. Your endurance argument is sound. I’d also suggest an aviation asset is a massive benefit to most any corvette Conops outside of the current Russian corvettes and their missions. Ambassador III even with a lighter load of a mk 110, 8 NSM, and combining Phalanx/RAM down to 1 launcher doesn’t quite get us anywhere as I don’t see it getting the endurance or aviation asset. Plus at that price you can start to buy a bigger ship. I keep coming up with something powered by 20V MTU 8000 or MAN 28/33 STC. Damen 10514/10714, Gowind 2500, Khareef, or a modified version of the OPC. The Sa’ar 6 is just a smidge small. I’d take it in a, “that’s good enough,” plan. Just a matter of for a few dollars and tons more we’d have the real modern day destroyer escort.

  8. There is no program of record, It is just discussion at this point. Al part of the distributed lethality idea. If anything does come of it, still a good ten years away from seeing ships in the water.

  9. The US had been using foreign ship designs for some quite some time. During WWII the US built 75 Tacoma class frigates based on the British River Class.

    Coast Guard Fast Response Cutters are built to a Damen design as were the 87 foot Marine Protector class patrol boats.

    In at least one case the USN bought a pair of British built underway replenishment ships. The did have to get permission from Congress to do that.

    • Yeah, but during WW2, the “Lend Lease Act” suspended the requirements imposed by the “Jones Act”. After September 1945, when the Lend Lease Act was cancelled, the Jones Act was reestablished…

  10. Pingback: Perhaps the Most Well Armed Cutter Sized Corvette in the World — Chuck Hill’s CG Blog | Ups Downs Family History

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