Gabriel (missile)

Gabriel missiles, created by Israel Aerospace Industries, are a range of anti-ship missiles that use the technique of sea skimming, created in response to an attack on an Israeli warship in 1967. The Mark IV version is in service with the Israeli Navy while other versions are in service with navies around the world.

Gabriel (missile)
Class Missile
Type Surface to Surface
Manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries
Origin Israel
Country Name Origin Year
Israel 1962
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Brazil View
Ceylon (Sri Lanka) View
Chile View
Ecuador View
Eritrea View
India View
Israel 1962 View
Kenya View
Mexico View
Singapore View
South Africa View
Thailand (Siam) View
Taiwan View
Azerbaijan View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Israel Aerospace Industries View

Faced with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems's anxiety to develop a new guidance system, Shlomo Arel asked Israel Aerospace Industries to take over the program by recruiting Ori Even-Tov, a former Rafael engineer. Even-Tov suggested dropping the guidance joystick approach used by the Luz, and instead proposed the development of an autonomous guidance system which would allow the missile to seek its objective, even in bad weather or bad visibility. He further proposed using an altimeter, allowing the missile to fly some meters over the surface of the sea, making it difficult to detect and allowing it to hit the target just above the waterline. A radar installed on the ship had to guide the missile, while the altimeter would keep the missile in sea-skimming mode.

During the Yom Kippur War the Gabriel I was used for the first time during the Battle of Latakia. Israeli missile boats armed with Gabriel Mk 1 missiles were credited with defeating Syrian ships armed with the Soviet-made Styx missile. Even though the Styx missile had a longer range, the Gabriel's reliability and flexibility of handling contributed to the Israeli victory. It is known that the Syrians shot missile salvos at the charging Israeli vessels, but missed due to the Israeli ECM technology of the time. When they were in range, the Israeli boats launched their Gabriel missiles, and sank all but one Syrian Osa class ship, which was later sunk by cannon fire. After defeating the Syrian Navy (surviving Syrian ships stayed in port) the Israeli missile boats defeated the Egyptian navy as well, achieving naval supremacy for the remainder of the war.

Older models of the Gabriel are still used by Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and other countries. During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, however, the P-15 Russian missile was much less successful. From October 6 to October 12, 54 missiles were fired to no effect, according to Western sources. The aforementioned Russian sources however, claim that a total of seven ships were sunk - all small vessels such as trawlers, patrol boats, and missile boats. But the Russian specialists agreed with their Western counterparts that the overall results were unsatisfying, especially considering that seven Egyptian and Syrian vessels were sunk after being hit by Israeli Gabriel Mk.1 anti-ship missiles. Interestingly, this last figure is commonly recognized by specialists in both the West and East.

The first such encounter took place during the night of October 6 to October 7, 1973, near Latakia on the Syrian coast. Israeli forces used helicopters flying slowly at very low altitude, effectively simulating naval targets. No Israeli ship was hit by the large salvo of P-15s subsequently fired by the Syrians, who themselves lost the T-43 class trawler Jarmuk and three torpedo boats to Israeli Gabriel missiles. The Syrian missile boats withdrew successfully, but all of their missiles missed the Israeli helicopters, which had climbed to break the missile radars' locks. On the same night, a similar trick with helicopters was repeated against Egyptian ships north of the Sinai Peninsula. Yet another encounter took place near Latakia on the night of October 10–11. This time, the missile exchange between Israeli and Syrian missile boats took place without the use of helicopters, and Israeli ships relied on chaff launchers. The Syrian vessels maneuvered outside their harbor among the anchored merchant ships. Two of the warships were sunk by Gabriel missiles, which also hit two neutral ships, the Greek Tsimentaros and the Japanese Yamashuro Maru. According to Israeli sources, the use of chaff saved all of its vessels, but it is possible that on that occasion at least one Sa'ar-class missile boat was hit and sunk while Russian sources claimed three. The following night, the helicopter maneuver was again successfully used during an encounter near Tartus off the Syrian coast. No Israeli ship was hit by a salvo of P-15s fired by Syrian missile boats. On the Syrian side, two Komar-class vessels were sunk by Gabriel missiles, and also the Soviet merchant ship Ilya Mechnikov was hit. On the same night, a similar encounter took place off the coast of Port Said.

Type Anti-ship missile
Service history
In service 1962
Used by See operators
Production history
Manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries
Variants developed from Luz (missile)
Weight Mark I: 430 kg (950 lb)
Mark II: 522 kg (1,151 lb)
Mark III: 560 kg (1,230 lb)
Mark III A/S: 590 kg (1,300 lb)
Mark IV: 960 kg (2,120 lb)
Length Mark I: 3.35 m (11.0 ft)
Mark II: 3.36 m (11.0 ft)
Mark III: 3.75 m (12.3 ft)
Mark III A/S: 3.78 m (12.4 ft)
Mark IV: 4.7 m (15 ft)
Diameter Mark I/ II /III / IIIA/S: 330 mm (13 in)
Mark IV: 440 mm (17 in)
Warhead Mark II: 100 kg (220 lb)
Mark III / IIIA/S: 150 kg (330 lb)
Mark IV: 240 kg (530 lb)
Wingspan Mark I / II:1.35 m (4 ft 5 in)
Mark III:1.32 m (4 ft 4 in)
Mark IIIA/S1.08 m (3 ft 7 in)
Mark IV:1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)
Mark I: 20 km (12 mi)
Mark II:6–36 km (3.7–22.4 mi)
Mark III:36 km (22 mi)
Mark IIIA/S:60 km (37 mi)
Mark IV:200 km (120 mi)
Flight altitude 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in)
Mark I / II:Semi-Active Radar
Mark III / IIIA/S / IV: Active Radar

End notes