The INS Rahav, the second of the Dolphin II class diesel-powered submarines was handed over in Germany to the Israeli Navy. Some equipment still needs to be installed, but it is expected to arrive in Israel sometime in late 2013 or early 2014.
Similar to its predecessors, the Dolphin II class submarines were designed specifically for Israel and are loosely based on the German Type 212 submarines. However, the Dolphin II submarines are much larger with many modifications.
The three earlier Dolphin I class submarines were also based on the Type 209 submarines but larger. Israel only had to pay for half on the third Dolphin I submarine, while the rest and the first two submarines were granted free of charge to Israel by Germany during the nineties.
Israel order two Dolphin II submarines in 2006 and ordered another one in 2011. The total cost is estimated at over $2 billion of which Israel will pay about three fourth and the rest by Germany. Israel received the first Dolphin II class submarine, the Tannin, in 2012.
The Dolphin class submarines are build by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) for Israel. No other country operates either the Dolphin I or Dolphin II class submarines.
The Dolphin II class submarines are equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) similar to those on the Type 212 to remain submerged for longer periods of time. The German version of AIP relies on fuel cells, unlike those of some other countries that use a different method.
The Dolphin class submarines are rare in that they are equipped with 650 mm torpedo tubes in addition to the 533 mm torpedo tubes. Normally, 650 mm torpedo tubes are only found on some Russian nuclear attack submarines and can fire much larger weapons with longer range.
It is thought that the primary use of the Dolphin submarines to Israel is to house their nuclear deterrent using long-range cruise missiles fired from under water using the larger torpedo tubes.
Israel being a relatively small country that is surrounded by hostile states at very close range makes it vulnerable to a surprise attack. The Dolphin submarines are believed to be less vulnerable and hence take a prominent role in ensuring the security of Israel.