DFN Israeli Live Fire Exercise

An Israeli vessel sinks a retired Israeli ship as part of a live-fire exercise.

TEL AVIV – The Israel Navy capped a two-week drill in international waters off the Mediterranean coast by sinking one of its own ships, a retired Sa'ar-4 class vessel, with two US-built Harpoon sea-skimming missiles, a Navy officer told Defense News on Thursday.

"Major live fire drills of this type don't happen often, because they're expensive. But it gave the operators and warfighters validation of what they've accomplished," said Lt. Col. Shai Elgam, head of the Navy's weapons branch.

The Sa'ar-4 vessel, the INS Atmaut (Independence), was retired in March 2014.

According to Elgam, the drill involved "extreme scenarios" which involved "locating the enemy by way of different methods; planning how to attack; validating the target designated for attack; and, of course, launching the missiles in the optimal way to ensure that the enemy was destroyed."

He said two Sa'ar-5 Corvettes and their dedicated helicopters participated in the drill, along with several Sa'ar 4.5-class Nirit vessels and shore-based assets. All were linked into the service's networked command and control system, which created a consolidated sea picture.

Elgam declined to specify which version of the Harpoon anti-ship missiles was used in the live fire drill.

"They were part of our operational inventory, with ranges exceeding 100 kilometers."