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Sa’ar V Corvette is Top-Heavy

November 4, 2008
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Something I wasn’t aware of recently publised in a World Affairs Board forum in a post titled Worst Warship Designs of the Post-WWII era:

When the design went public it was hailed as the most heavily armed warship per ton in the world and stirred up quite a bit of discussion and debate. Here in the states IIRC Cebrowski and Hughes used these ships as an example of what their “Streetfighter” concept could achieve. The brochures claimed these ships would appear powerful indeed. A 76mm gun, two 25mm gatling guns – all director controlled, 64 Barak SAM missiles in vertical launchers with a 3-channel fire control system, 8 Harpoon and 8 Gabriel anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine torpedo tubes and a helicopter.

The reality is somewhat different.

The 76mm gun has never been installed, the ships instead carrying a Phalanx CIWS. The 25mm Gatling guns have never been installed and never will be as this system is no longer available. Instead, hand-operated WWII-type 20mm Oerlikon’s are shipped. Only half of the Barak VLS has been installed, the other half permanently taken over by a SATCOM terminal. Only 2 of the 3 planned Barak directors are installed. Gabriel missiles are not fitted and the ships usually put to sea with only 4 rather than 8 Harpoon. The originally intended L-band air search radar is apparently not installed.

That’s a lot less punch than originally advertised so the obvious question is, what happened?

Topweight is what happened. The Israeli’s, as they are so often prone to do simply tried to cram 10 pounds of potato’s in a 5 pound bag. The ships lack the volume and weight reserves to carry all of the originally intended equipment and yet may still suffer from stability problems. These 85-meter, 1,200 ton corvette’s are hardly more capable than the 488 ton, 61-meter FAC they succeed. To me this smacks of utter and complete failure both on the part of the shipbuilders but also and especially on the part of the Israeli Navy.

The Sa’ar corvettes have been hailed on other blogs as an alternative to the undergunned American littoral combat ship, but this seems to pour water on such an assumption. Anyway have further info on this?

9 Comments leave one →
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  4. Fran permalink
    October 11, 2011 11:17 am

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  5. B.Smitty permalink
    November 6, 2008 12:24 pm

    Hmm. Well I think the devil is in the details. The Sa’ar 4s and 4.5s don’t have nearly as capable of a radar and combat system as the 5 Plus, I have to imagine the larger ship has much better seakeeping and endurance.

    And I have to wonder how the heck did they fit a helo hangar on the Aliya’s. They are tiny!

  6. charbookguy permalink
    November 6, 2008 1:08 am

    Cobras on Corvettes, eh? Might work! Anyway, a fairly good warship in adequate numbers is far better than one of two so-called perfect ships. As the original post stated, the Israeli’s weren’t getting as much bang for its buck compared to lighter FAC!

  7. B.Smitty permalink
    November 5, 2008 10:22 pm

    Well, I do think Sa’ar 5 is a bit too small for the USN. It really needs to be large enough to carry an SH-60. It could carry USCG HH-65s, maybe, or 1 or 2 Fire Scouts.

    But if we were to consider it for the low-end, leave off Barak, Gabriel, Harpoon, and all of the Israeli radar and fire control.

    Add back the basic LCS sensor and armament suite (57mm, RAM, SeaGiraffe/TRS-3D, SURBOC/NULKA, towed array, ESM), and maybe have enough room for a few module containers, RHIBs, AN/WLD-1s, etc.

    A weapon container position or two could carry Harpoons, Netfires, and/or Mk38 MOD 2s, if needed.

    Such a vessel wouldn’t be as capable as an LCS in MIW and ASW, but I have to believe it would be a lot cheaper, and have shallower draft. It could be a capable small boat ASuW combatant.

    Maybe, since it can’t carry an SH-60, it could carry an AH-1Z instead. Perhaps even with the Cobra Radar System (CRS). I wonder at what range CRS could detect and track small boats?

    A few “Sa’ar LCSs”, each with an AH-1Z, might make for a tough anti-small boat group. Each AH-1Z/CRS could light off 8-16 Hellfires at separate, radar-directed targets in rapid succession.

  8. charbookguy permalink
    November 5, 2008 7:29 pm

    Truly! So what would you leave out Smitty? The 76mm like the IDF and perhaps some of the AA missiles. Also, a US version would need a UAV like Fire Scout IMHO.

  9. B.Smitty permalink
    November 5, 2008 2:18 pm

    Any ship can be made top-heavy if you pack enough into it. Ticos are, for example (though hopefully not to the same extent).

    If we were to use the Sa’ar 5 as a basis for a smaller LCS, we would just have to accept a lighter configuration. There’s really only so much you can carry on a 1200 ton ship.

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