Three Sa'ar 5-class stealth warships currently (2017) make up the missile corvette section of the modern Israeli Navy. The class is led by INS Eilat (501) and includes both INS Lahav (502) and INS Hanit (503). The group was constructed by Ingalls Shipbuilding (Northrop Grumman Ship Systems) of the United States for Israeli Navy service with Lahav launched on August 20th, 1993 and formally commissioned for service on September 23rd, 1994. She maintains an active presence in the Israeli fleet and operates out of Haifa, Israel.
INS Lahaw (meaning "Blade") exhibits the same form and function of American-designed and built destroyers and frigates. The warship features slab-sided superstructures that contour nicely with the hull lines. The bridge is integrated fully into the fore superstructure and helipad is featured over the stern. At midships is a low-profile smoke funnel that reduces the signature of the warship. A main mast is seated over the fore superstructure in the usual way and a secondary mast is identified over the aft superstructure. Aboard there are about sixty-four operating personnel (officers and sailors) and an additional ten personnel serve as part of the attached air section.
Corvettes are known as the smallest of available warships in modern navies and this generally gives the type a compact dimension, shallow draught and good maneuverability - ideal qualities in operating along shorelines which is the primary concern of the Israeli Navy. These vessels can operate independently or as part of the main fleet and are armed with a variety of weapon types to suit the mission need. The vessel's compact size, as well as attention to automation where possible, allows a relatively small crew commitment.
INS Lahav displaces 1,075 tonnes under standard load and this increases to 1,230 tonnes under full load. The ship's overall length is 281 feet with a beam measuring 39 feet and a draught of just 10.4 feet. Power is from 2 x MTU V12 1163TB82 marine diesels and 2 x General Electric LM2500 gas turbines arranged in a COmbined Diesel Or Gas (CODOG) arrangement allowing the warship to utilize either set of powerplants for a given action (quick dashing or full-on cruise). Maximum reachable speeds in ideal conditions is 33 knots and range is out to 3,500 nautical miles.
The armament suite of Lahav consists of 64 x Barak 8 series Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) used to counter incoming aerial threats at range. Surface threats are dealt with by way of 8 x RGM-85 "Harpoon" Anti-Ship Missiles (ASMs) seated in two quadruple launchers near midships (one facing port, the other starboard). 2 x Mark 32 torpedo six-tube launchers are also featured for submarine hunting / anti-ship operations. Local air defense is through a 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) fitted over the forecastle.
Beyond the typical missile and projectile weapon featured is a mix of various radar, sonar and digital processing systems. Elta produces the EL/M-2218S radar to cover air-search functionality while the EL/M-2221 radar fit handles fire-control. The EDO Type 796 is the onboard sonar system and Rafael has built the towed sonar array used by the ship. Elbit also developed the chaff rocket launchers and the Elisra NS-9003A/9005 series in the Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) role. Decoys are handled by the Argon ST AN/SLQ-25 "Nixie" suite. In September of 2014, the class was upgraded with the EL/M-2248 MF-STAR multi-function AESA radar system - Lahav was the first of the three warships of the class to incorporate this technology.
Over the stern of the ship is the helicopter landing pad which supports a single medium-lift helicopter - typically the Eurocopter "Panther" is used. The helicopter can help resupply the warship , serve in Search And Rescue (SAR) actions or provide a critical over-the-horizon vantage point.
INS Lahav saw combat in the Lebanon War of 2006 where she was used to blockade critical Lebanese ports and has since been committed to other Israeli-related naval actions in the Mediterranean. The vessel has also taken part in joint NATO- and American-sponsored naval exercises in the region.
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