Illustration: Naval ensign of Israel.
Israeli military considers possibility of mounting interceptor missiles on gas-producing platforms to be built in eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, reports The Jerusalem Post.
Israel is afraid of Hezbollah's possible attacks upon the platforms by antiship missiles or explosive-carrying vessels.
In particular, Israeli Navy concerns that antiship missiles Yakhont recently purchased by Syria from Russia can be handed over to Hezbollah and used for attacks upon gas-producing platforms. Syria has already tested Yakhonts at latest exercise.
Israeli Navy has not selected the kind of missile defense system to be planted on gas drilling rigs yet. Two options are considered; the first one is David's Sling used against medium-range missiles and cruise missiles, and the second is Barak 8 protecting large surface combatants from antiship missiles.
The Navy will intensify patrols in the Mediterranean including UAV monitoring in order to increase range of surveillance.
UAV Heron produced by Israel Aerospace Industries is presently used for this purpose; it is equipped with special electronic optics for naval operations.
Up to now, Israeli Navy was focused on protection of own commercial vessels at sea all across the Mediterranean Sea including Maghreb coast.
About 99% of imported products are delivered to Israel by sea including security-related cargoes and military equipment.
With construction of new gas-producing platforms, Israel would have to protect larger area, a high-ranking Israeli naval officer told The Jerusalem Post. Military preparations in the region show availability of antiship missiles, and that causes special concern, he added.
Besides, Israeli Navy persuades defense ministry of the need to purchase four new warships to cover responsibility areas more effectively. The question is ships which performance exceeds those of Sa'ar 5-class corvettes currently in-service.
New ships will be equipped with advanced radar system. In addition, they have heliport and long-range missile defense system with surface-to-surface missiles.
Israeli Navy informed energy companies that radars must be mounted on gas platforms. The government considers possibility to finance the project by state budget. In Feb 2012, Israeli defense ministry and naval command ordered Israel Electric Corporation to tighten security of gas-producing platform built off Hadera.
This field will give Israel an opportunity to export natural gas and waive Egyptian gas which deliveries are regularly disrupted due to terror actions at pipelines.