Gabriel (missile)

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An IAI Gabriel Anti-ship missile
TypeAnti-ship missile
Place of originIsrael
Service history
In service1970
Used bySee operators
Production history
ManufacturerIsrael Aerospace Industries
Unit costUS$5 million per missile (Gabriel V / Blue Spear)
Variantsdeveloped from Luz (missile)
MassMark 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)
Mark V: 1,250 kg (2,760 lb)
LengthMark 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)
Mark V: 5.5 m (18 ft)
DiameterMark I/ II /III / IIIA/S: 330 mm (13 in)
Mark IV: 440 mm (17 in)
WingspanMark 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)
WarheadMark II: 100 kg (220 lb)
Mark III / IIIA/S: 150 kg (330 lb)
Mark IV: 240 kg (530 lb)

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)[citation needed]
Mark V/Blue Spear/Sea Serpent:400 km (250 mi)
Flight altitude2.5 m (8 ft 2 in)
Mark I / II:Semi-Active Radar
Mark III / IIIA/S / IV: Active Radar

Gabriel is a family of sea skimming anti-ship missiles manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The initial variant of the missile was developed in the 1960s in response to the needs of the Israeli Navy which first deployed it in 1970. Since then, variants have been exported to navies around the world. The latest variant, the Gabriel V, is in use by the Finnish and Israeli navies as of 2020.


On October 21, 1967, four Styx missiles sank the destroyer INS Eilat, which was patrolling along the northern shores of the Sinai. Forty-seven Israeli sailors and officers were killed or went missing in action and 100 were injured.[1] The loss of the ship prompted the Israeli Navy to ask Israel Aerospace Industries to accelerate the development of an anti-ship missile, which had begun in 1958 with the Luz (or Lutz) program.


Testing of the Gabriel II missile from Sa'ar 2 class ship, 1969

Faced with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems's anxiety to develop a new guidance system, Shlomo Erell 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.[2] 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.[2]

Gabriel Mk 1[edit]

The development of the Gabriel for the Israeli Navy began in 1962,[3] before being first shown to the public in 1970. It was touted to be the world's first operational sea-skimming missile, and saw extensive action during the Yom Kippur War.[4] A batch of 50 was imported by the Republic of China Navy for evaluation and as the interim weapon for the three Allen M. Sumner class destroyers upgraded with Gabriel Mk 2 missile system, and it is also the basis for the Taiwanese Hsiung Feng I missile.

Gabriel Mk 2[edit]

The Gabriel Mk 2, an improved version of Gabriel, was created in 1972 and entered service in 1976. It was also built under license in South Africa under the name Skerpioen (Afrikaans for Scorpion).[5] The Taiwanese Hsiung Feng I missile can be considered as a parallel development, being based on Gabriel Mk 1 but with similar improvements, and ordnances used by the two systems are interchangeable.

Gabriel III[edit]

Gabriel III and Gabriel III A/S were introduced in 1978[5] with major improvements. The air-launched Gabriel III A/S has a range of over 60 km.[citation needed] Both Gabriel III versions employ the widely used 'fire and forget' mode.[citation needed]

Gabriel IV[edit]

Developed in the early 1990s is related to the Gabriel Mk III but larger and with a turbojet engine for sustained flight. It is distinguishable from the Mk III because of its swept wings with cropped tip. Like the Mk III, it has 3 guidance modes: Fire and Forget, Fire and Update with data link, and Fire and command using Radar update[4]

Gabriel V[edit]

Israel Aerospace Industries is reportedly working on a Gabriel V Advanced Naval Attack Missile, with an advanced active multi-spectral seeker designed for cluttered littoral environments.[6][7] As of 2020, this variant is deployed by the Finnish and Israeli navies.[8] Range is claimed to be more than 200 km to 400 km.[9]

Successful test firing of the Gabriel V was conducted by the Israel Defense Forces on September 21, 2022.[10]

Blue Spear and Sea Serpent missile systems[edit]

In 2020, Israel's IAI and Singapore's ST Engineering started a 50/50 joint venture company called Proteus Advanced Systems to develop, produce and market a derivative of the Gabriel V called the Blue Spear missile system. The missile has both sea and deep land attack capabilities with enhanced maneuverability for littoral environments.[11] The warhead employs an active radar-homing seeker, accurate INS-based navigation capabilities, beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) capability and a robust system which is immune to GPS disruptions and maximal accuracy target acquisition. The system is equipped with a variety of deception means to achieve its mission and cope with the different battle-field challenges. ST Engineering's role in the Blue Spear's development includes the design, development and production of major subsystems like the booster motor and warhead.[12]

In 2021, IAI and Thales jointly marketed a variant of the Gabriel V/Blue Spear called Sea Serpent to the Royal Navy to replace its ageing Harpoon missile system. At DSEI 2021, IAI revealed that Sea Serpent was developed in parallel with Blue Spear and based on the Gabriel V missile system and/or older variants. IAI also revealed that Sea Serpent has a low profile mode or sea skimming range of greater than 290 km.[13] This range corresponds with the overall Gabriel V's range of 200 km to 400 km, depending on flight profile.[14]

In October 2021, it was announced that the Estonian Defence Forces purchased the Blue Spear missile system with a maximum range of 290 km (flight profile not mentioned).[15] The cost of each missile is about $5 million.[16] On 13 May 2022, it was reported that Israel gave permission to Estonia to give Ukraine one Blue Spear 5G SSM rocket which Israel claims are false.[17] However, the Estonian Minister of Defense dismissed the claims as false.[18] As part of the class's mid-life upgrade from 2028,[19] ST Engineering will install the Blue Spear missile on the Republic of Singapore Navy's six Formidable-class frigates as a replacement for the American Harpoon missile.[20][21]

Older models[edit]

Older models of the Gabriel are still used by Chile (Sa'ar 4 with Gabriel II), Israel (Sa'ar 4.5 with Gabriel II), Mexico (Sa'ar 4.5 with Gabriel II), Sri Lanka (Sa'ar 4 with Gabriel II) and Thailand (FPB-45 with Gabriel I).

Operational history[edit]

Sa'ar 4 ship launches the Gabriel missile

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 P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 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.[22][2]


During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the Styx was shown to be far less effective than previously believed. From October 6 to October 12, 54 missiles were fired to no effect, according to Western sources. The aforementioned Russian sources[which?] 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. 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. 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. 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.


Current operators[edit]

 Sri Lanka

Former operators[edit]

 South Africa
  • Republic of China Navy (Mk 2, reduced to reserve status due to service entry of the similar Hsiung Feng I missile and decommissioned in early 1990s)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cécile Pilverdier. "Histoire d'Israël : année 1967 - Un écho d'Israël" (in French). Archived from the original on 2011-10-23. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  2. ^ a b c Rebinovich, Abraham (December 24, 2011). "Escape from Cherbourg". Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  3. ^ "Israel Aerospace Industries LTD". Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Gabriel family". Archived from the original on 2012-06-29.
  5. ^ a b "Gabriel (Israel) - Jane's Air-Launched Weapons". 2010-09-08. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  6. ^ "Israel Aerospace Industries LTD". Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  7. ^ "IAI Introduces Gabriel 5 Anti-Ship Missile System". Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  8. ^ שניידר, טל (25 September 2020). "צה"ל הודיע על ניסוי מוצלח במערכת טילי ים-ים". Globes (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 2020-09-27.
  9. ^ a b "Merivoimien uusi pintatorjuntaohjus – Gabriel 5" [New Navy Surface Missile - Gabriel 5] (in Finnish). 13 December 2019. Archived from the original on 2021-04-15. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
  10. ^ "Israeli Navy test-fires Gabriel V anti-ship missile from Sa'ar 6 corvette". 22 September 2022.
  11. ^ Yeo, Mike (16 February 2022). "Proteus reveals more details of Blue Spear missile". Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  12. ^ Yeo, Mike (29 July 2020). "Singapore, Israeli firms team to develop new ship-killing missile". Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  13. ^ "DSEI 2021". September 2021.
  14. ^ Buckby, Jack (2022-05-14). "Blue Spear: The Missile Israel Won't Give to Ukraine". 19FortyFive. Retrieved 2023-03-21.
  15. ^ "Estonia buys Blue Spear missiles for coastal defense". Defense News. 8 October 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  16. ^ Axe, David. "Estonia's Getting A Powerful Cruise Missile. Now It Needs Some Way To Find Targets". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-03-21.
  17. ^ Israel refused to equip Ukraine with Blue Spear system through Estonia - report, Retrieved on May 14th, 2022
  18. ^ "Leht: Eesti annab Ukrainale alles hiljuti soetatud ülimoodsad laevatõrjeraketid. Laanet: Ei vasta tõele, see on infooperatsioon". Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  19. ^ "ST Engineering Awarded Contract for Mid-Life Upgrade of Formidable-class Frigates". ST Engineering. Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  20. ^ Rahmat, Ridzwan (18 December 2023). "ST Engineering receives contract for Formidable-class mid-life upgrades". Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  21. ^ Egozi, Arie (31 December 2023). "Singapore selects IAI's Blue Spear missiles for Formidable-class frigates". Defence Industry Europe. Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  22. ^ Razoux, Pierre (October–November 2006). "La marine israélienne d'hier à aujourd'hui". Marines et Forces Navales (in French) (105).
  23. ^ "Estonia Awards Contract to Proteus for Blue Spear". Israel Aerospace Industries. 6 October 2021. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  24. ^ "Finnish Navy to acquire new Surface-to-surface Missile system". Archived from the original on 2018-07-06.
  25. ^ "Skerpioen (Scorpion/Gabriel II) Ship-to-Ship Missile". Archived from the original on 2011-08-23.