Israel has received four patriot missiles batteries for its navy to protect the offshore natural-gas drilling platforms in the Mediterranean,Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Monday.
Ya'alon said at a joint press conference with German Defense Minister Ursula Von Der Leyen at the Kirya military compound in Tel Aviv that Israel received the batteries in recent years as part of a military aid program.
The entire purchase price is estimated at $483 million. Plans call for the boats to be supplied over the next five years. However, Israel will receive a special $128-million grant from the German government as part of the transaction with the shipping firm.
The shipping firm also committed to deals amounting to about $180 million in reciprocal purchases, the statement added.
The vessels will be used in Israel’s economic waters, including the gas-drilling areas that extend beyond Israel’s territorial waters.
A senior Israel Navy officer recently had said that the drilling platforms are considered a viable target by Hezbollah.
Israel ministry of defense director general Dan Harel and the CEO of Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Andreas Burmester signed deal as a part of the transaction with the shipping firm.
Harel said that the signed deal is a highly significant event that constitutes a dramatic jump ahead in the capacity of the navy to protect the strategic sites of the State of Israel in the gas sector, at a distance of tens and hundreds of kilometers into the sea.
"In addition, it constitutes a form of substantial economic leverage vis-a-vis the economy since close to a billion shekels are to be returned directly to Israeli industry in orders for equipment and procurement,” Harel added.