Former Israel Navy Chief: Israel Can Defend Its Gas Fields

(Globes) Yuval Azoulai - Unmanned naval patrol vehicles produced by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems will protect national interests at sea, with a focus on the gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. The IDF has already received a number of these "Protector" vehicles over the last year, and the security establishment is looking to purchase additional ships. This will double the Navy's manpower that regularly patrols near the gas fields, and provide a response to terrorist attempts to attack them. The Protector meets the challenge of declarations by Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations that view these fields as possible targets for attacks. The ships are equipped with advanced radar systems that enable them to warn security forces about suspicious movements approaching the rigs using sophisticated night and day vision equipment and an independent firing system. They are routinely carried on board large ships and are sent out to sea in times of need. According to foreign reports, Singapore's navy uses such vessels in its routine operations. The Protector is not the only solution to the threats on the gas fields: foreign media reported that the Israel Air Force routinely operates unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with advanced identification and detection systems to protect gas fields located off Israel's coast. A few months ago, Minister for Home Front Defense Matan Vilnai warned that there is a threat to the gas fields from Syria's missiles. The Israeli security establishment is concerned about the Syrians owning Russian Yakhont cruise missiles. A missile that can hit accurately at 300 km. is more capable of hitting a fixed target, like a gas rig. The security establishment assumes that whatever Syria has will eventually reach Hizbullah. It is some consolation to know that the IAI's Barak 8 surface-to-air missile is capable of intercepting the Yakhont. "Israel has the capability to protect its gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea," said former Israel Navy Commander Vice Admiral (res.) David Ben-Ba'ashat, in an interview with Globes. "We must protect our installations out at sea. We must protect them since they are considered easy prey by Hizbullah and others. Of course the need to protect these sites will expand as Israel relies more and more heavily on natural gas." "These requirements sharpen the need to enlarge a security presence at sea, to create deterrence, to achieve complete control over intelligence gathering, to streamline the monitoring and control capability of boats that approach Israel's maritime border, and when there is an unusual occurrence, to have control over the breaking situation swiftly, and to react quickly," he said.

2011-09-07 00:00:00

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