May 22, 2023:
Over a hundred Israeli designed and manufactured Shaldag (Kingfisher) patrol boats have been produced or are on order since they first appeared in the 1990s. The original Mk 1 model has been followed by Mk 2, 3, 4 and 5. The basic design of the 72-t0n fast (93 kilometers an hour) patrol boat has remained the same. What has changed is the equipment and weapons carried. The search and navigation radars as well as the fire control systems have evolved. So has the growing array of weapons available. The latest weapon is the 32 kg (71 pound) Spike ER fire-and-forget guided missile. With a max range of 16 kilometers, Spike ER can handle threats before they get close enough to do Shaldag any damage.
The latest and largest version is Shaldag Mk 5. This is a 95-ton 33 meter (104 foot) long boat with a top speed of over 75 kilometers an hour and max endurance of three days, or 1,600 kilometers at 22 kilometers an hour. There are crew quarters and a water desalination system so the crew of fifteen can remain alert over long patrols. Weapons include, in addition to the several Spike ER missiles, a 25mm autocannon RWS (remote weapons station), a 20mm cannon and two 12.7mm machine-guns which can be used in manual or RWS mode. There are two RIBS (rigid inflatable boats) and a crane to put them in the water for boarding parties or rescue missions. Depth charges can also be carried because there is a sonar for monitoring the sea bottom or detecting submarines. Shaldag often operates in shallow coastal waters.
The latest version is the 35-ton Mini-Shaldag. This version only needs a crew of five but is fast (100 kilometers an hour) and can carry up to eight passengers (military or civilian). This version is a fast-response vessel for port security of important stretches of coastline.
While Israel has been the largest user of Shaldag, the ships have been exported to ten foreign navies and coast guards. Israel uses Shaldag to patrol its long coastline for smugglers or terrorist attacks as well as guarding ports and the new offshore natural gas fields. Near the Lebanon border and in the south near Gaza. Israel also uses some larger offshore patrol vessels and navy Saar corvettes for natural gas field protection while the most numerous patrol vessels are the Shaldags.