March 31, 2015

Israeli Publicity on Nuclear Capability of its Dolphin 2 Submarines - Yakhont, BrahMos

The upper image is a Dolphin 2 - for size comparison and to indicate the fuel cell AIP additions. Lower submarine image highlights the high number of torpedo/missile tubes - apparently ten on the Dolphin 1s and 2s - useful for rapid nuclear missile launch. (Diagram courtesy Next Navy)
Most probably very similar to the Russian-made P-800 Oniks, Yakhont , NATO reporting name SS-N-26 "Strobile" is the Russian-Indian BrahMos (above) . The mach 2.8 end run makes Yakhont and BrahMos difficult to detect and shoot down in time. With a probable land attack capability and air-launched range longer than the notional 290km they will be a proliferating weapon to watch. (Diagram courtesy - Russian for "Military Parity" website).

Here's the BrahMos missile showing its capabilities in land, ship and submarine launch. Its ability to hit what look like 2-4 m targets supports claims of +2/-2 m accuracy.

In terms of relevance to Australia the ability of Germany's TKMS-HDW to tailor-make largish Dolphin 2 (2,000+ ton (surfaced)) warm water, submarines for Israel implies a capability to successfully tailor-make future submarines for Australia.

In late March 2015 much of the Israeli media (eg. a haaretz article of March 30, 2015) seem to be carrying Israeli government generated news of technical progress with the ISS Tanin nuclear capable submarine. Tanin appears to be the most complete of Israel's Dolphin 2 class SSKs. It does not appear the Tanin is anywhere near formal commissioning - so why the publicity? 

The media reports substantially carry mention of the nuclear second strike capabilities of the Dolphins. This is a subject that requires Israeli Government permission to be published.

The reason to mention second strike appears to be Syrian government acquisition and possible deployment of Russian-made P-800 Yakhont, NATO reporting codename SS-N-26 "Strobile" - a supersonic cruise missiles. What has Israel worried is not so much the usual anti-shipping role but more the Yakhont's land attack capability. 

With Syria's record of using Sarin gas on crude warheads against civilians Israel's worry about the Oniks would be considerable. Syrian use of radiological warheads might also be feasible and of course high explosive. The chances of Sunni rebels or Sunni governments acquiring Yakhonts adds an extra worry. See my May 21, 2013 article on Israeli airstrikes on Syria.

Media stories on Israeli second strike would of course have a "put pressure on Iran" intent as well.

In an added twist India and Russia are jointly developing the BrahMos version of the Yakhont. India wishes to market BrahMos to several countries in the Asia-Pacific. Meanwhile Russia has already supplied the Yakhont in Australia's region to Indonesia and Vietnam

Please link with Submarine Matters' Israeli Dolphin Sub, Nuclear Armed, Conventionally Propelled, February 25, 2012 which mentions possible Israeli developed nuclear warheads on submarine launched Harpoon missiles (SLCMs). Israel's current nuclear SLCM may be the socalled Popeye Turbo or perhaps an Israeli version of the (jointly developed?) Indian K-15 small ballistic missile. The Dolphin 1s and 2's extraordinarily high number of ten torpedo tubes (including 4 unusually large 650mm tubes) implies the ability to rapidly launch ten nuclear land attack missiles. 

The sequence of the Dolphin 2s being delivered by Germany then modified/completed in Israel (Haifa) is a bit puzzling. Based on "Boats" but updated:

Dolphin 1 class
  • Dolphin – delivered May 1998 – commissioned 1999
  • Leviathan (trans. "Leviathan" or "whale") – delivered 1999 – commissioned 2000
  • Tekumah (trans. "Revival") – delivered 2000 – commissioned 2000
AIP Dolphin 2 class
  • Tanin (trans. "Tannin" or "Crocodile") – delivered 23 Sept 2014 - enter service 2015, commisioning 2015 or 2016?
  • Rahav (trans. "Splendour") – delivered 29 April 2013 - enter service in 2015 or 2016?
  • Name not assigned yet. Ordered 21 March 2012. Enter service in 2017 or 2018?

Tanin was apparently received months after Rahav yet Rahav will be completed later. 

Much of the Israeli modification/completion would be for the electronics and loading fitout for the nuclear missiles. Publicity about Germany in 2012 being overly knowledgable and helpful to Israel regarding the nuclear missile loading fitout must have resulted in Israel taking over that whole job. Perhaps Israel's procedures are not fully developed - hence the Tanin-Rahav completion anomaly.



lachit said...

i am a regular visitor to this blog and enjoy reading ur posts

now as to the reported range of brahmos as being 290km by the OEM.i think this is not accurate information.

u see when india and russia first started working on brahmos they decided to improve the electronics,navigation,seeker while keeping rest of the brahmos as close as possible to the yakont.

to stop eyebrows from being raised the russians asked the indians to keep some of the fuel cells empty to restrict the range under 300km.(this is one of the reasons why brahmos is so heavy for a missile under 300km range)

now india can refuel those empty fuel cell as per her requirements to increase the range to 600km +

even with the 300km version range of around 500km can be achieved by using hi-hi-hi flight profile instead of the lo-hi-lo flight profile.

now for the 600km version use of the hi-hi-hi flight profile will give it a similiar range increase, that is to around 800 km.

the latest brahmos can hit targets with accuracy <5m even without using its seeker.
and the integration of brahmos with navigation systems like G3OM(designed for long range ballistic/cruise missile)surely points towards it range being more than what it is being claimed.

note:my claim is based on the titbits of info i picked up over the years.

Vigilis said...

Hi Pete,

Found your 2012 link very interesting.

We can be certain Israel's guard is never relaxed due to Iran's (and others) threats to Israel's very existence.

Like the U.S., Israel by necessity has been highly secretive in regard to the actual state of its military technologies. Despite its smaller size, Israel has developed innovative weapons at unexpectedly economical costs.

Hypothetically, both countries now have submarine launchable 'bumker buster' missiles in their arsenals of democracy. These are heavy items probably require large hull penetrations possibly accomodated by SSGNs, SSBNs, and possibly in smaller version(s) by the Virginia Payload Modules of Block V SSNs.

I do not know this to be the case, nor would I be surprised if such a launch was used by either of those countries or Russia, who seems to have by far the best submarine escape system built into it larger subs, or so it says.

Rgards, Vigilis

Peter Coates said...

Hi lachit

Thanks for your comments.

All these notional efforts by Russia and India to keep BrahMos's range under 300 km would be to adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

With the MTCR being "an informal and voluntary partnership between 34 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying a 500 kg payload for at least 300 km. Russia is a member.

It seems to be an odd appearance of international law and regulation when the true ranges of BrahMos are so easy for countries to calculate. "600 km +" as you say.

I suppose the smaller less powerful countries are meant to really adhere to this "Regime" full of holes!

Perhaps BrahMos accuracy is more likely +/- 2m for conventional high explosive bunker busting?



Peter Coates said...

Hi Vigilis

Yes, given Israel's close proximity to regular threats (crude missiles from Gaza and the Lebanese border) and rarer but more serious threats (Syria and Iran) the Israelis must be on a hair-trigger day and night.

For bunker-busting (nuclear and HE) I looked at warheads for Harpoon and estimated for the Popeye Turbo . With 200kg warheads for both they look too low - unless they use several warheads to deepen holes on the same "bunker".

My money is on the Israelis fielding a small SLBM like the K-15 - harder to shoot down than cruise and K-15/Sagarika carries a 1,000 kg warhead .

For their warhead research the Israelis may have accessed some ideas like .

Interesting the "large hull penetrations" the lengthy period of Israeli mosdifications on Dolphin 2s might have been sufficient for VLS for perhaps 4 K-15s.

The SLCM and SLBM might also be part players in the nuclear triad (which includes Jericho IRBMs) for several years yet.

All speculation of course.



Anonymous said...

A hi-hi-hi profile would mean air launched. Even though it is supersonic, flying at 14000m and broadcasting via its radar will make the Yakhont/Brahmos an easy target for something like an SM-6 with its 240km+ range. Yes, you will need some sort of eyes like an E-2D AWACS. Then one has to add in the factor of electronic attack to counter such threats. With AESA, EA enters a new whole new dimension.
It is doubtful that bunker buster warheads on Brahmos and others will be sufficient to penetrate hardened shelters with super concrete and buried deep underground. A bunker buster will need some very heavy high strength steel core (some of those even came from decommissioned batteleship cannons).

lachit said...


"I suppose the smaller less powerful countries are meant to really adhere to this "Regime" full of holes!"

nobody is a saint in the international geo-political games that is being played about.

US,european countries,china have supplied ballitic/cruise missiles or their technology to other countries which are in clear breach of MTCR.
1.chinese supply of DF 3 IRBM to saudi with the support of US.
2.Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missile to the UAE
3.nothing to say of the pakistani(actually chinese) ballistic missiles and working samples of nuclear warheads which have been gifted by china.

ETC ETC the list is very long.

what is remarkable is neither US NOR EU have said anything about brahmos.maybe because they see that its primary role is to counter the chinese,who have stationed hundreds of IRBMs on their side targetting indian military/civilian positions.

the K 15 missle is the improved and modified navy version of the shaurya missile(though the DRDO denies it).
the missile is unique in the sense that it is a quasi ballistic-cruise missile.
its flight profile is like that of a cruise missile but with the speed of a ballitic can reach speeds of mach 7.5 even when travelling in the performs rolls to distribute the heat uniformly, generated due to air friction on its surface.

i dont see israel using the k15 as it is, but they might use it as a platform to develop another version with more range and more warhead capacity.

lachit said...

@Anonymous Anonymous

"Even though it is supersonic, flying at 14000m and broadcasting via its radar will make the Yakhont/Brahmos an easy target for something like an SM-6 with its 240km+ range"

sir you fail to realize that the active seeker on brahmos is turned on only at 50-30 km from the target.
and even if detected, with a speed of 1km per second u have less than 1 minute to take appropriate action.

what if it never turns it seeker on?
i have aleady mentioned brahmos has shown accuracy <5m even without using seekers through the use of G3OM(GPS, GLONASS, GAGAN on a Module.)

and what if the a number of brahmos missiles is launched in wolf pack mode?(indian navy once mentioned such a wolf pack of 9 missiles sufficient to destroy 3 major surface combatants under very adverse conditions.)

also the brahmos is coated with radar evading material making it difficult for radars to get a lock on it.

the land version of brahmos has the ability to discriminate targets from background clutter using the SCAN seeker head. it has already exhibited steep diving capabilities that enable it to attack targets on the reverse slope of a mountain. further the use of a target discrimination system allows it to hit bunkers with penetrator warheads amidst mountain clutter.the kinetic energy that comes into play is significant.

about whether the bunker buster warheads on Brahmos will be sufficient to penetrate hardened shelters with super concrete and buried deep underground?
i dont have the answer.and also i dont think the indian army will go around making wild claims about a weapon if it is not sure about its capabilities(Defeating hard and deeply buried targets HDBTs).

brahmos accuracy is even better than +2/-2 m if u would believe the testfire videos on utube where the missile hits the bullseye.

lastly brahmos is not some super duper has its advantages and also disadvantages.
smart ones will figure that out.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous (of April 3)

I dare say Western destroyers (existing and being built) have Aegis systems that have already programmed in destruct solutions for BrahMos/Yakhount.

During the subsonic cruise phase BrahMos/Yakhount would be vulnerable. Also the heat they built up would be a gift to heat seeking missiles.

Yes bunker busting bombs and missiles need a lot of weight and hardness to penetrate rock and concrete. Cruise missiles - be they BrahMos/Yakhount, Popeye, Harpoons etc don't carry the warhead weight.

Mininukes might shatter a target without the need to directly pentrate. And there is always size for many non-nuclear - up to and heavier.



Peter Coates said...

Hi lachit


Being "informal and voluntary" against proliferation of missiles and UAVs "500 kg payload for at least 300 km".

The MTCR is being eroded by all, China, Pakistan as you say. Also by UAV exports e.g the US Reaper UAV - range far greater than 300 km - has a payload of 1,700 kg - already exported to the UK and perhaps to Australia next.

Probably true what you say about the Shaurya and K-15. The K-15 may be the naval version and Shauya the land launched version .

I agree that Israel is/will be using a development of the K-15 (Sagarika) - One indicator is the K-15 is supposed to have a diameter of 740 mm while the largest Israeli Dolphin 1/2 torpedo/missile tubes are listed as 650 mm.



Peter Coates said...

Hi lachit (re your 2nd comment April 3)

Here's the BrahMos showing its capabilities in land, ship and submarine launch. Its ability to hit 2-4 m targets supports the +2/-2 m accuracy you mention.

BrahMos vulnerabilities would also exist if pre-emptively struck before launch eg. "who is quicker on the draw?".



Anonymous said...

I am aware that Brahmos can turn on its radar only within the last 50km. Assuming Brahmos is fired at 500-600km away by an SU-30, at flank speeds a ship will be 10km away from the initial GPS/INS programmed position, assuming the SU-30 radar can see the ship that far which it cannot. Even from 50km, the ship will have moved almost 1km. As far as I know Brahmos does not have an IR sensor like the Konsberg JSM or Lockheed LRASM, both of which are extremely stealthy.
I doubt that radar coating on Brahmos or Yakhont is that effective since there is zero geometric shaping to minimize RCS.
Don't get me wrong, I think Brahmos is a good design. There are reasons Indonesia bought it and even Vietnam wants it.
All Aegis like ships, be it with Standard SM or Aster 30, have been tested extensively against Yakhont like threats.

lachit said...

more videos highlighting the brahmos bullseye accuracy.

also worth noting is the fact that brahmos testfires makes up for almost one third of all the missiles testfired by india during the last ten years or so.the indians have really fine tuned it.

"One indicator is the K-15 is supposed to have a diameter of 740 mm while the largest Israeli Dolphin 1/2 torpedo/missile tubes are listed as 650 mm."

a very good spot.u surely have an eye for details.

and as u already mentioned the infrared signature of the brahmos,it is surely going to be its Achilles heel.

and the brahmos is supersonic through out its flight regime.

"BrahMos vulnerabilities would also exist if pre-emptively struck before launch eg. "who is quicker on the draw?"."

yes and no. the brahmos is mounted on mobile platforms so pre emptive strikes are going to be very difficult.
only US has the capability to do so.

how are things going in australia with regards to the japanese sub procurement.looks like india is trying to join the party.

also cant understand the japanese talks about secrecy and reservations regarding TOT.
surely the japanese in future are going to develop more advance and capapable subs.they are forever not going to sit with the soryu are they.

also it is only logical to assume that australia and india will surely protect all the tech they get from the japs.(if they get it)

years back i remember reading an article by a very senior member of chinese communist detailed the annexation of australia and parts of russia for chinese version of Lebensborn.
it surely was a interesting read but also had dangerous implications for australia.
australias dependence on US military is flawed because if both US and australia come under attack simultaneously.i dont think the US military priority will be defending australia.
food for thought huh?

lachit said...


sir some of your points are valid.

but the following statement is not correct.

"Even from 50km, the ship will have moved almost 1km"

the brahmos has speed of almost 1 km/s
suppose it is detected by a ship at a distance of 50km due to the brahmos seeker being turned on.
now from that point onwards the missile will take approx 50 seconds at speeds of 1km/s to cover the distance of 50 km to reach the ship.
i dont think any ship can cover a distance of 1km just under 1 will be hard pressed to do so even with all its propulsion
at full blast and with the missile homing onto it closer every second.

also the brahmos and yakont(indonesia) are two very different system.
they might share the same propulsion and structure but all similarities end there.

a good analogy would be the baseline su 27/30 and the su 30mki (which the russians were so impressed that they decided to make the su 30sm based on it for themselves.)

and if u go through my previous posts u will understand that brahmos is way different from the baseline (export)yakont.
india also has developed its own seeker/navigation/engagement algorithm(allegedly derived from kh 55) offering better capabilities than the russian yakont.
note:by the way thats my view only

Peter Coates said...

Hi lachit (of April 4, 2015 at 1:08 AM)

Thanks for those extra youtubes on Brahmos.

Yes the BrahMos looks supersonic throughout its flight. This is all the more reason to destroy it when:

- it at rest (in a storehouse)
- moving slowly on ship, sub or truck-mounted (in convoy or ready to launch)

Israel is capable of such a pre-emptive strike in Syria or Lebanon.

Perhaps hitting BrahMos when it is ascending in low-high-low profile is another winner?

On Soryu, Japan and Australia little new to report. See my recent post on comments of lack of fainess of the "competitive evaluation process" which appears weighted in favour of Japan

Your memory is interesting of any Chinese Lebensraum policy toward Australia. A major concern I have is that China could exert sufficient influence in East Timor to build a Chinese airbase and sea base in East Timor (too close to Australia).



lachit said...

hahaha plz dont label me as a "racist"
but arm ME countries with the all the latest top grade weapons. still, they will get destroyed by the israelis.

same here.chinese involvement in building ports in sri lanka, pakistan has become a great headache for india.

looks like china might try to get a naval base in makes sense they can move supplies direct from china using the overland route through myanmar.
they already operate the coco island for surviellance on the indian navy stationed in A&N islands.

india needs to get her nuclear subs SSBN & SSN & SSGN up running pronto.

(can u guess which subs will ultimately take over the role of SSGN?)

and i would surely like to known ur personal opinion on the capabilities of arihant sub.


Peter Coates said...

Hi lachit

The Israelis were almost beaten in the 1973 Yom Kippur War - where Israel was totally surprised by Egypt. Egyptian anti-tank missiles caused massive losses of Israeli tanks and Israel desperately needed emergency logistics help from the US. see

Israel's illegally built nuclear capability is its main trump card. Hence Israel is doing its all to stop Iran building the Bomb.

China has been accused of building bases in the Indian Ocean for decades. But such accusations have lacked clear proof on internet sites.

Thanks - I'll be writing about Indian nuclear subs in a couple of days.



Biswajit Pattanaik said...

"Can u guess which subs will ultimately take over the
role of SSGN?"
My bet will be on S2/ARIHANT,S3 &S4 SSBNs that they will be converted into SSGNs.This will happen when in the future the better & the bigger SSBNs i.e, S5,S6 & S7 comes into service.

Hi Pete,
Just want to add something about Future Indian SSNs.According to me either Indian Navy could go with a Barracuda based SSN or even a Scorpene based SSN just like the Brazillians Sn-BR SSN.What's ur take on this?

Just one more info on IN;the 1st of the P-75 Sub named INS Kalvari was undocked for sea trials on 6-Apr for sea trials.

Anonymous said...

'exert sufficient influence in East Timor to build a Chinese airbase and sea base in East Timor'

Difficult. Yes PRC could bribe E.Timorese leaders - they did so even prior to the 99 referendum - but there's still a strong anti Communist movement there inclined to reach out to Jakarta and Washington. Should ET progress to failed State and Canberra allow it to happen, Jakarta would probably become involved, again. There would have to be watershed changes in Indonesia, and a realignment of PRC, Indonesia, US relationships for your concerns to become thinkable. That won't stop Dili from using the threat as leverage though. With or without Gusmao.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

I agree with your points on East Timor and add that the low world price of oil must be hurting the one commodity East Timorese economy. This may increase East Timorese unhappiness with Australia over profit sharing and seabed boundary issues.

I imagine China would know not to exploit such a close to Australian home matter.

Just as Australia wouldn't back any participant in East China Sea tensions...



Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous (of today)
On East Timor, Chinese activities etc. It would be best that you provide more information of your bona fides, including country of origin. Perhaps use my email address.