Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV   ■   Volume Fifteen   ■   Number 3 (86)  ■  June 2002   ■  Ariel Center for Policy Research




The Contribution of Marine Power to Israeli Deterrence in the Future Battlefield

Reuven Pedatzur and David Shick

The totality of sea-based (fire from beyond the horizon) and land-based (surface-to-surface missiles) threats confronting Israel combined with its lack of strategic territorial depth, enhance the significance of strategic maritime depth, as the navy provides the dual advantages of mobility (especially with missile boats) and durability (especially with submarines). However, at present, Israeli naval superiority (its domination of the seas and the technological gap in its favor) in the eastern Mediterranean Basin is in danger as a result of the augmentation of the Arab navies, endangering Israel’s plans to utilize its strategic marine depth for a “second strike” capacity which would upgrade Israel’s deterrence capability.

The strategic infrastructure of the navy today, based on the Sa’ar 5 missile boats and the Dolphin submarines, enables the navy to carry out its traditional missions of protecting the country’s shores and standard sailing routes, along with attack and intimidation capabilities on our enemies’ navies and docks, and on the other hand, to develop a strategy in which the navy would constitute the “long arm” of the IDF in the era of surface-to-surface missiles, in support or in place of air and ground forces.

The 2002 budget allotment to the navy did not increase, indicating that the decision to integrate the navy into the strategic deterrence alignment has not yet been taken by the defense establishment. The need to find deterrent solutions stems from the assessment that over the coming decade, Iran and perhaps Iraq, will acquire the ballistic nuclear capability to strike targets in Israel, forcing the country’s leaders to make decisive determinations which will bring about a reversal in the IDF battle philosophy and the place and the role of the naval force within that philosophy.

In this article, we will attempt to analyze the relative strength of the navy vis-ŕ-vis the Arab navies, the structure of the Israeli naval force, the capabilities necessary in the naval battlefield of the future and the strategic threats confronting the State of Israel which mandate the full integration of the navy in the context of a new strategic approach in response to these threats.

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