Mexico Buys Israeli Missile Ships, Helicopters for $90 Million

Mexico has bought two Israeli-made missile ships and transport helicopters from Israel Defense Forces surplus for $90 million, one of the largest sales of used Israeli equipment in recent years.

The ships remain in Israel, and are undergoing renovations. According to the terms of the sales contract signed by the two countries' defense ministries, the ships will be transferred to Mexico after the renovations are completed, and after Mexican naval crews complete a training course on use of the ships. The two ships were sold for $66 million.

The vessels were built in the Israel Shipyards in the 1970s and are considered to be direct "descendants" of the French missile ships sold to Israel in the 1960s and smuggled out of Cherbourg port after Paris imposed an arms embargo on the Middle East, following the 1967 Six-Day War. The ships are equipped with helicopter landing pads and can handle Israeli-made Gabriel surface-to-surface missiles, U.S.-made Harpoon missiles, and U.S.-made anti-aircraft weapons. The ships can reach maximum speeds of about 30 knots - 48 kph. - and weigh 480 tons. They carry crews of 40.

Israel stopped manufacturing this line of missile ships in the 1980s, and began producing much larger (1,300 ton) Sa'ar 5 vessels.