Merkava


Merkava
Merkava
Merkava MK-IV
Merkava Mark IV in Yad La-Shiryon, Latrun.
Type Main battle tank
Place of origin  Israel
Service history
In service 1978–present
Used by Israel Defense Forces
Wars 1982 Lebanon War, South Lebanon conflict, 2006 Lebanon War, First Intifada, Second Intifada, Gaza War
Production history
Designer MANTAK
Manufacturer MANTAK\IDF Ordnance (assembly)
Unit cost $4.5 million[2] (in 2006)
Produced 1974–present
Number built Mark I: 250
Mark II: 580
Mark III: 780
Mark IV: 320 (Another 300 in production)[1]
Specifications
Weight 65 tonnes
Length 9.04 m (29.7 ft): rear to muzzle
7.60 m (24.9 ft): without gun
Width 3.72 m (12.2 ft)—without skirts
Height 2.66 m (8.7 ft)—turret roof
Crew 4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)

Armor Classified composite matrix of laminated ceramic-steel-nickel alloy. Sloped modular design.
Main
armament
120 mm (4.7 in) MG253 smoothbore gun, capable of firing LAHAT ATGM
Secondary
armament
1 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in) MG
2 × 7.62 mm (0.300 in) MG
1 × 60 mm (2.4 in) internal mortar
12 smoke grenades
Engine 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) turbocharged diesel engine
Power/weight 23 hp/ton
Payload capacity 48 rounds
Transmission Renk RK 325
Suspension Helical spring
Ground clearance 0.45 m (1.5 ft)
Fuel capacity 1400 litres
Operational
range
500 km (310 mi)
Speed 64 km/h (40 mph) on road
55 km/h (34 mph) off road

The Merkava (Hebrew: About this sound מרכבה , Chariot) is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank was first introduced in 1978, and four main versions of the tank have been developed and deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War. The "Merkava" name was derived from the IDF's initial development program name.

It is designed for rapid repair of battle damage, battlefield survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance. Following the model of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, the turret assembly is located nearer the rear than in most main battle tanks. This gives additional protection against a frontal attack. This arrangement also creates more space in the rear of the tank that allows increased storage capacity, as well as a rear entrance to the main crew compartment allowing easy access under enemy fire. This allows the tank to be used as a platform for medical disembarkation, a forward command and control station, and an armored personnel carrier. The rear entrance's clamshell-style doors provide overhead protection when off- and on-loading cargo and personnel.

It was reportedly decided shortly before the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon War that the Merkava line would be discontinued within four years.[3] However, on 7 November 2006, Haaretz reported that an Israeli General Staff assessment had ruled of the Merkava Mark IV that "if properly deployed, the tank can provide its crew with better protection than in the past," and deferred the decision on discontinuing the line.[4]

Contents

Development

The Merkava series of tanks dates to the 1960s, when Israel drew up plans to remove its military-industrial complex from reliance on foreign factories. Israel's economy and national reserves, backed by U.S. military grant aid after 1967,[5] allowed it to purchase nearly any land, sea, or air platform and weapon from friendly nations, but Israel's infrastructure was not capable of producing those items domestically.

In 1965, Israel's military establishment began research and development on a domestically-produced tank, the "Sabra"[citation needed] (not to be confused with the modern Sabra tank). Initially, Britain and Israel collaborated to develop the United Kingdom's Chieftain tank that had entered British Army service in 1966.[citation needed] However, in 1969, Britain decided not to sell the tank to Israel for political reasons.[6]

Israel Tal, who was serving as a brigade commander after the Suez Crisis, restarted plans to produce an Israeli-made tank, drawing on lessons from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Israeli forces were outnumbered by those of the Middle East's Arab nations. [6]

By 1974, initial designs were completed and prototypes were built. After a brief set of trials, work began to retool the Tel HaShomer ordnance depot for full-time development and construction. After the new facilities were completed, the Merkava was announced to the public in the International Defense Review periodical. The first official images of the tank were then released to the American periodical Armed Forces Journal on May 14, 1977. The IDF did not officially adopt the tank until December 1978, when the first full battalion of 30 tanks was delivered for initial unit training.

Primary manufacturers

The lead organization for system integration of the Merkava's main components is Israel Military Industries (IMI). The Israeli Ordnance Corps are responsible for final Merkava assembly. Israeli-owned and -operated contributors to the vehicle are[7]:

  • IMI manufactures the 105 mm and 120 mm main guns and their ammunition;
  • Urdan Industries assembles and constructs the hull, drive- and powertrains, and turret assemblies;
  • Soltam manufactures the 60 mm internal mortar;
  • Elta designs and manufactures the electronic sensors and infrared optics;
  • Elbit delivers the ballistics computer and digital fire-control system (FCS);
  • Tadiran provides cabin air conditioning, crew cabin intercom and radio equipment;
  • El-Op, Elisra and Astronautics implement the optics and laser warning systems;
  • Rafael Advanced Defense Systems builds and installs the Rafael Overhead Weapon Station and Trophy active protection system;
  • L-3 Communication Combat Propulsion Systems produces licensed copies of Germany's MTU MT883 1500 hp diesel engine powerplant and RENK RK325 transmissions;
  • Motorola supplies Tadiran communication encryption systems;
  • DuPont supplies the Nomex, ballistic, and fire-retardant materials used by Hagor;
  • Russia Military Industries helped to design the KMT-4 & -5 anti-mine rollers and the ABK-3 dozer blade, now built by Urdan;
  • FN Herstal supplies 7.62 mm (MAG 58) and 12.7 mm (M2) coaxial and pintle-mounted machine guns;
  • Caterpillar assisted with an Israeli-designed track system.

General characteristics

Armor and protection

The Merkava was designed for survivability and rapid repair. The Mark III Dor Dalet BAZ and the Mark IV were designed with more modern modular armour, which allows repairs to take place more easily. Other features include a fire extinguisher system, and the engine and transmission being located in the front of the tank. This offers protection in the front, since any round that penetrates the frontal armor will be further slowed or stopped by the engine before it reaches the crew. This also allows for a squad of infantry to ride in the back of the tank. An emergency escape hatch is located in the rear of the tank for crew evacuation if the regular hatches are jammed by a blast. The hatch is so wide and large that infantry in the back of the tank, as well as the crew can use it. An additional feature is a stretcher to evacuate a wounded crew member.

The latest Merkava MK4 tanks rolling out of the assembly line now include the Trophy active protection system as standard feature.

Firepower

The Merkava Mark I was armed with a 105 mm M68 gun, as well as the Mark II. However, the Mark III, Mark III Dor Dalet BAZ kassag, and the Mark IV are all armed with an IMI 120 mm smoothbore gun.

Each model of the Merkava has two 7.62 machine guns for anti-infantry defense. Another unique feature, present in every model of the Merkava, is the 60 mm mortar that can be loaded and fired internally.

Mobility

The tank's 1,500 horsepower turbocharged diesel engine was designed by MTU and is manufactured under license by L-3 Communication Combat Propulsion Systems (formerly General Dynamics). The Mark IV's top road speed is 64 km/h.[citation needed]

Merkava Mark I

Merkava Mark I at Yad La-Shiryon.

The Mark I, operational since 1978, is the original design created as a result of Israel Tal's decision, and was fabricated and designed for mass production. The Mark I weighed 63 tonnes and had a 900 horsepower (670 kW) diesel engine, with a power-to-weight ratio of 14 hp/ton. It was armed with the 105 millimeter M68 main gun (a licensed copy of the British Royal Ordnance L7), two 7.62 mm machine guns for anti-infantry defense,[8] and a 60 mm mortar mounted externally, with its operator not completely protected by the tank's hull.

The general design borrows the tracks from the British Centurion tank, which had seen extensive use during the Yom Kippur war.

The Merkava was first used in combat during the 1982 Lebanon War where Israel deployed 180 units. After the war many adjustments and additions were noted and designed, the most important being that the 60 mm mortar needed to be installed within the hull and engineered for remote firing—a valuable feature the Israelis had initially encountered on their Centurion Mk3s with their 2" mortar MkIII.[9] A shot trap was found beneath the rear of the turret bustle where a well-placed shot could jam the turret completely. Installation of chain netting to disperse and destroy rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank rockets before impacting the primary armor increased survivability.

Merkava Mark II

Merkava Mark II at Yad La-Shiryon.
Merkava Mark II at Yad La-Shiryon.
The Merkava Mark II. Chain netting is installed behind the turret.
The Merkava Mark II. Chain netting is installed behind the turret.
The Merkava Mark II

The Mark II was first introduced into general service in April 1983 and incorporated several upgrades as a result of the previous incursion into Lebanon. The new tank was optimized for urban warfare and low intensity conflicts, with a weight and engine no greater than the Mark I.[10]

The Mark II used the same 105 millimeter main gun and 7.62 millimeter machine guns as the Mark I, but the 60 millimeter mortar was redesigned during construction to be located within the hull and configured for remote firing to remove the need to expose the operator to enemy small-arms fire. An Israeli-designed automatic transmission and increased fuel storage for increased range was installed on all further Mark IIs. Anti-rocket netting was fitted for increased survivability against infantry equipped with anti-tank rockets. Many minor improvements were made to the fire-control system. Updated meteorological sensors, crosswind analyzers, and thermographic optics and image intensifiers gave greater visibility and battlefield awareness.

Incrementally improved versions of the original Mark II were designated:

  • Mark IIB, with thermal optics and unspecified updates to the fire control system.
  • Mark IIC, with more armor on the top of the turret to improve protection against attack from the air.
  • Mark IID, with modular composite armor on the chassis and turret.

Merkava Mark III

The Merkava Mark III
The Merkava Mark III
The more advanced, Merkava Mark III Baz model, with weaponry highlighted
The more advanced, Merkava Mark III Baz model, with weaponry highlighted
Merkava Mark III Dor Dalet BAZ Kasag, the most advanced Merkava III variant
Merkava Mark III Dor Dalet BAZ Kasag, the most advanced Merkava III variant
Variants of the Merkava Mark III
Merkava IIId Baz fires - the Baz Fire-control system increases the Merkava's accuracy and lethality
Show-off: Merkava III shooting a shell, FN MAG and smoke grenade. It then turns on the smoke screen system. The demonstration concludes with the throwing a green smoke hand grenade (1m 16s).

The Merkava Mark III was introduced in December 1989, and had upgrades to the drivetrain, powertrain, armament, and electronic systems. The most prominent addition was the incorporation of the locally-developed IMI 120 mm gun.[11] This gun and a larger 1,200 horsepower (890 kW) diesel engine increased the total weight of the tank to 65 tonnes (140,000 lb), but the larger engine increased the maximum cruising speed to 60 km/h (37 mph).[12]

The turret was re-engineered for movement independent of the tank chassis, allowing it to track a target regardless of the tank's movement. Many other improvements were made, including:

  • External two-way telephone for secure communications between the tank crew and dismounted infantry,
  • Upgraded ammunition storage containers to minimize ammunition cook-off,
  • Addition of laser designators,
  • Incorporation of the Kasag modular armor system, designed for rapid replacement and repair in the battlefield and for quick upgrading as new designs and sophisticated materials become available,
  • Creation of the Mark IIIB, with unspecified armor upgrades.

BAZ System

The 1995 Mark III BAZ (Hebrew Acronym signifying Barak Zoher) had many improved and additional systems including:

  • Upgraded fire-control system components, from Electro Optics Industries (EL-OP) and Elbit Ltd, provides the tank with the ability to engage moving targets while on the move (an automatic target tracker),
  • NBC protection systems,
  • Locally-developed central air-conditioning system,
  • Added improvements in ballistic protection,
  • The Mark IIID had removable modular composite armor on the chassis and turret.

Dor-Dalet

The last generation of the Mark III class was the Mark IIID Dor-Dalet (Hebrew: Fourth Generation), which included several components as prototypes to be introduced in the Mark IV.

  • Upgraded and strengthened tracks (built by Caterpillar, designed in Israel),
  • Installation of the R-OWS.

Merkava Mark IV

Merkava Mark IV is first publicly introduced and seen in Yad La-Shiryon during Israeli Independence Day celebrations in 2002.
Merkava Mark IV is first publicly introduced and seen in Yad La-Shiryon during Israeli Independence Day celebrations in 2002.
Merkava Mark IV (foreground)
Merkava Mark IV (foreground)
Merkava Mark IV of the 401st Brigade during a training exercise.
Merkava Mark IV of the 401st Brigade during a training exercise.
The Merkava Mark IV

The Mark IV is the most recent upgrade of the Merkava tank and has been in development since 1999. Its development was announced in an October 1999 edition of the Bamachaneh ("At the Camp") military publication. However, new Merkava Mark IIIs continued to be produced until 2003. The first Merkava IVs were in production in limited numbers by the end of 2004.[13]

Design features

The model has a new fire-control system, the El-Op Knight Mark 4. Removable modular armor, from the Merkava Mark IIID, is used on all sides, including the top and a V-shaped belly armor pack for the underside. This modular system is designed to allow for damaged tanks to be rapidly repaired and returned to the field.

Tank rounds are stored in individual fire-proof canisters, which reduce the chance of cookoffs in a fire inside the tank. The turret is "dry"; no active rounds are stored in it.

Some features, such as hull shaping, exterior non-reflective paints, and shielding for engine heat plumes mixing with air particles to confuse enemy thermal imagers, were carried over from the IAI Lavi program of the Israeli Air Force to make the tank harder to spot by heat sensors and radar.

The Mark IV includes the larger 120 mm main gun of the previous versions but can fire a wider variety of ammunition, including HEAT and sabot rounds like the APFSDS kinetic energy penetrator, using an electrical semi-automatic revolving magazine for 10 rounds. It also includes a much larger 12.7 mm machine gun for anti-vehicle operations (most commonly used against technicals).[14]

Upgraded fire control system

The new fire-control system enables the Merkava to shoot down helicopters and find and destroy armored attack helicopters such as the French Gazelle and the ubiquitous Russian Mil Mi-24, both used by Israel's neighbors.[citation needed]

Upgraded tracks

The Mark IV has the Israeli-designed "TSAWS (Tracks, Springs, and Wheels System)" caterpillar track system, called "Mazkom" (Hebrew: מערכת זחלים קפיצים ומרכובים‎) by troops. This system is designed to endure the harsh basalt rock conditions of Lebanon and the Golan Heights with minimal "track-shedding".

Digital battlefield management system

The tank carries the Israeli Elbit Systems BMS (Battle Management System; Hebrew: צי"ד), a centralised system that from tracked units and UAVs in theater, displays it on color screens, and distributes it in encrypted form to all other units equipped with BMS in a given theater.

Rapid repair and cost effectiveness

The Merkava IV has been designed for rapid repair and fast replacement of damaged armour, with the implementation of sections of modular armour that can be easily removed and replaced. It is also system designed for comparable cost-effectiveness. At $4.5 million per tank, the price is significantly lower than many other tanks of the same generation.[15][not in citation given]

Combat history

The Merkava was used widely during the 1982 Lebanon War. The tank outperformed Syrian tanks (mostly T-62s) and proved largely immune to anti-tank weapons of the time (the AT-3 Sagger and RPG-7) that were used against it. It was judged to be a significant improvement over Israel's most effective main battle tank of the time, the Centurion tank. [16]

In February 2002 a Merkava III was destroyed by roadside bomb near Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip. The tank was lured into intervening in an attack on a settler convoy. When the tank went over a heavy mine it was detonated and the tank was totally destroyed. Four soldiers were killed in the blast. This was the first heavy tank to be destroyed during the Second Intifada.[17] A second Israeli tank, Merkava II or probably a Merkava III, was destroyed a month later in the same area and a further three soldiers were killed. A third Merkava II or III tank was destroyed near the Kissufim Crossing, when one soldier was killed and two wounded.[18]

A fourth Merkava III tank was destroyed in February 2003 when it drove over a mine near the Jewish settlement of Dugit. Four crewmen were killed in the blast. [19]

On the 25th June 2006, an armed squad of Palestinians militants from the Gaza Strip crossed the border into Israel via a 300-meter-long underground tunnel they dug near the Kerem Shalom border crossing. One group of militants blasted the rear door of a Merkava III tank open with an RPG shell and the tank went up in flames. The tank commander and the driver were killed when they evacuated the burning tank. The tank’s gunner, Gilad Shalit, was lightly wounded and taken prisoner by the militants. A fourth member on the tank crew was injured in the incident.[20]

The AT-14 Kornet anti-tank laser-guided missile

Many of Israel's casualties in the 2006 Lebanon War were Merkava tank crews.[21] Only the minority of the tanks used during the war were Merkava Mark IVs, as by 2006 they had still only entered service in limited numbers. Hezbollah antitank missiles penetrated the armor in five Merkava Mark IV tanks killing 10. The penetrations were caused by tandem warhead missiles. Hezbollah weaponry was believed to include advanced Russian RPG-29 'Vampir', AT-5 'Konkurs', AT-13 'Metis-M', and laser-guided AT-14 'Kornet' HEAT missiles. The IDF reported finding the state-of-the-art Kornet ATGMs on Hezbollah positions in the village of Ghandouriyeh.[22] Several months after the cease-fire, reports have provided detailed photographic evidence that Kornet ATGMs were indeed both in possession of, and used by, Hezbollah in this area.[23][24] Another Merkava IV tank crewman was killed when a tank ran over an improvised explosive device (IED). This tank had additional V-shaped underside armor, limiting casualties to just one of the seven personnel (four crewmen and three infantrymen) onboard. In total, 50 Merkava tanks (predominantly Merkava IIs and IIIs) were damaged, eight of which remained serviceable on the battlefield. Two Merkava Mark IVs were damaged beyond repair, one by powerful IEDs, and another, it is believed, by Russian AT-14 'Kornet' missiles. All but two Merkava Mark IV tanks damaged during the war were repaired and returned to the IDF. The Israeli military said that it was satisfied with the Merkava Mark IV's performance, and attributed problems to insufficient training before the war.[25][26]

After the 2006 war, and as the IDF becomes increasingly involved in unconventional and guerrilla warfare, some analysts say the Merkava is too vulnerable to advanced anti-tank missiles, that in their man-portable types can be fielded by guerilla warfare opponents.[27][28] Other post-war analysts, including David Eshel, disagree, arguing that reports of losses to Merkavas were overstated and that "summing up the performance of Merkava tanks, especially the latest version Merkava Mark IV, most tank crews agree that, in spite of the losses sustained and some major flaws in tactical conduct, the tank proved its mettle in its first high-saturation combat."[29] On a comparison done by the armor corps newsletter it was shown that the average number of crewmen killed per tank penetrated was reduced from 2 during the Yom Kippur War to 1.5 during the 1982 Lebanon War to 1 during the 2006 Lebanon War proving how, even in the face of the improvement in anti-tank weaponry, the Merkava Mark IV provides better protection to its crew (although only a limited number of the Israeli tanks used in 2006 were Merkava Mark IVs). The IDF wanted to increase orders of new Merkava Mark IV tanks, and planned to add the Trophy active protection system to Merkava Mark IV tanks, and to increase joint training between crews and Israeli antitank soldiers.[30][31]

The Merkava IV was used more extensively during the Gaza War, as it had been received by the IDF in increasing numbers since 2006, replacing more of the Merkava II and III versions of the tank which were in service. One brigade of Merkava IVs managed to bisect the Gaza strip in five hours without casualties. The commander of the brigade stated that battlefield tactics had been greatly revised since 2006, with the IDF increasing its focus on aggressiveness, concentrated firepower, combining air and ground attacks, and the use of blitzkrieg maneuvers. Tactics had also been modified to focus on asymmetric or guerilla war threats, in addition to the conventional war scenarios that the Merkava had primarily been designed to combat.[32] By October 2010, the IDF had begun to equip the first Merkava IVs with the Trophy active protection system, to improve the tanks' protection against advanced anti-tank missiles which use tandem-charge HEAT warheads.[33][34] Added protection systems included an Elbit laser-warning system and IMI in-built smoke-screen grenades.[13]

In December 2010, Hamas in Gaza fired an AT-14 Kornet anti-tank missile at a Merkava Mark III tank stationed on the Israel-Gaza border near Al-Bureij. It had hitherto not been suspected that Hamas possessed such a sophisticated missile. The missile penetrated the tank's armour, but in this instance caused no injuries among its crew. As a result of the attack, Israel decided to deploy, along the Gaza border, its first Merkava Mark IV battalion equipped with the Trophy active protection system.[35]

On 1 March 2011, a Merkava MK IV stationed near the Gaza border, equipped with the Trophy active protection system, successfully foiled a missile attack aimed towards it and became the first operational success of the system.[36]

Specifications of models

Merkava Mark I Merkava Mark II Merkava Mark III Merkava Mark IV
Service history
In active service 1979–? (reserve forces only) 1983– 1990– 2004–
Used by Israel Defense Forces
Wars 1982 Lebanon War, First Intifada South Lebanon conflict (1982–2000), First Intifada, Second Intifada, 2006 Lebanon War, Gaza War South Lebanon conflict (1982–2000), Second Intifada, 2006 Lebanon War, Gaza War Second Intifada, 2006 Lebanon War, Gaza War
Production history
Designer MANTAK (Merkava Tank Office)
Manufacturer MANTAK (Merkava Tank Office)
Produced 1978–1983 1982–1989 1990–2002 2003–
Number built 250 580 780 320, another 300 are being delivered[1]
Specifications
Weight ~63 tonnes ~65 tonnes
Length rear to muzzle: 8.30 m (27 ft 3 in)
without gun: 7.45 m (24 ft 5 in)
rear to muzzle: 9.04 m (29 ft 8 in)
without gun: 7.60 m (24 ft 11 in)
Width 3.70 m (12 ft 2 in) (without skirts) 3.72 m (12 ft 2 in) (without skirts)
Height 2.65 m (8.7 ft) (turret roof) 2.66 m (8.7 ft) (turret roof)
Crew 4 (tank commander, driver, gunner, loader-signaller). May also carry some infantrymen.
Armor Rolled homogeneous armor Spaced rolled homogeneous armor Composite armor, modular design. Composite matrix of laminated ceramic-steel-nickel alloy. Sloped modular design.
Primary armament 105 mm (4.1 in) M68 rifled tank gun with LAHAT ATGM capability. 120 mm (4.7 in) MG251 smoothbore tank gun with LAHAT ATGM capability. 120 mm (4.7 in) MG253 smoothbore tank gun with LAHAT ATGM capability.
Secondary armament 2–3 × 7.62 mm (0.300 in) MG
1 × 60 mm (2.4 in) external mortar
12 smoke grenades
2–3 × 7.62 mm (0.300 in) MG
1 × 60 mm (2.4 in) internal mortar
12 smoke grenades
3 × 7.62 mm (0.300 in) MG
1 × 60 mm (2.4 in) internal mortar
12 smoke grenades
1 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in) MG
2 × 7.62 mm (0.300 in) MG
1 × 60 mm (2.4 in) internal mortar
12 smoke grenades
Engine Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-6A 908 hp (677 kW) V12 air-cooled diesel engine Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-9AR 1,200 hp (895 kW) V12 air-cooled diesel General Dynamics GD883 (MTU883) 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) V12 water-cooled diesel
Power / weight ~14.5 hp/ton ~18.5 hp/ton ~23 hp/ton
Payload capacity 53 up to 62 rounds, 6 per container 46 rounds, 5 ready in a mechanical drum 48 rounds, 10 ready in an electrical drum
Transmission Allison Transmission CD850-6BX hydromechanical semiautomatic Ashot Ashkelon hydromechanical automatic, 4 gears. Ashot Ashkelon hydromechanical automatic, 5 gears (licensed copy of Renk RK325).[37]
Suspension Helical spring
Ground clearance 0.53 m (1 ft 9 in) 0.45 m (1 ft 6 in)
Fuel capacity 1100–1400 litres 1400 litres
Operational range 400 km (250 mi) – 500 km (310 mi) 500 km (310 mi)
Speed on road 50 km/h (31 mph) 60 km/h (37 mph) 64 km/h (40 mph)

Variants

Following the Second Intifada the Israel Defense Forces modified some of their Merkava's to satisfy the needs of urban warfare.

Merkava LIC

These are Merkava Mark III BAZ or Mark IV tanks, converted for urban warfare. The LIC designation stands for "Low intensity conflict", underlining its emphasis on counter-insurgency, street-to-street inner-city asymmetrical type warfare of the 21st century.[38]

The Merkava is equipped with a turret 12.7 mm caliber coaxial machine gun which enables the crew to lay down fairly heavy cover fire without the use of the main gun, which is relatively ineffective against individual enemy combatants. Like the new remote-operated weapon station, the coaxial machine-gun is fired from inside the tank without exposing the crew to small-arms fire and snipers.

The most sensitive areas of a tank, its optics, exhaust ports and ventilators, are all protected by a newly-developed high-strength metal mesh, to prevent the possibility of explosives charges being planted there.[38]

Rubber whip pole-markers with LED tips and a driver's rear-facing camera have been installed to improve navigation and maneuverability in an urban environment by day or by night.

Merkava Tankbulance

Some Merkava tanks have been fitted with full medical and ambulance capabilities while retaining their armament (but carrying less ammunition than the standard tank). The cabin area has been converted for carrying injured personnel and has had two stretchers and life support medical station systems added with a full medical team complement to operate under combat conditions with a Merkava battalion. The vehicle has a rear door to facilitate evacuation under fire, and can provide covering fire.

The "tankbulance" is not an unarmed ambulance and as such is not protected by the Geneva Conventions provisions regarding ambulances, but it is far less vulnerable to accidental or deliberate fire than an ambulance or armored personnel carrier.

Merkava IFV Namer

Namer in Yad LaShiryon 62nd Independence Day exhibition.

Namer (Hebrew: leopard, which is also an abbreviating of "Nagmash (APC) Merkava") is a infantry fighting vehicle based on Merkava Mark IV chassis. In service since 2008, the vehicle was initially called Nemmera (Hebrew: leopardess), but later renamed to Namer.

Namer is armed with either M2 Browning or Mk 19 grenade launcher mounted on a Samson Remote Controlled Weapon Station, another 7.62 mm MAG machine gun, 60 mm mortar and smoke grenades. Like Merkava Mark IV it is optimized for high level of crew survival on the battlefield. Namer may carry up to 12 crewmen and infantrymen and a stretcher, or two stretchers and medical equipment.

Golani Brigade used two Namer IFVs during Cast Lead operation.

Merkava ARV Nemmera

The Merkava Armored Recovery Vehicle initially called Namer (Hebrew: leopard), but subsequently renamed to Nemmera (Hebrew: leopardess). It is an armored recovery vehicle based on a Merkava Mark III or IV chassis. It can tow disabled tanks and carries a complete Merkava back-up power pack that can be changed in the field in under 90 minutes.

There are two versions of Nemmera: the heavier equipped with a 42 ton-meter crane and a 35 ton-meter winch, and the smaller equipped with a smaller crane.

Sholef in Beit ha-Totchan, Zikhron Ya'aqov, Israel.

Merkava Howitzer Sholef

Two prototypes of Sholef ("Gunslinger" or "Slammer") 155 mm self-propelled howitzer with automatic loading system were built by Soltam in 1984–1986. The 45-ton vehicle had a long 155 mm calibre gun barrel giving a range of 45+ km. Using GPS, inertial navigation, and an internal fire control computer, it was also capable of direct fire while on the move. It never entered production.[39]

References

Notes
  1. ^ a b (PDF) Israel, 2010, IL: The Institute for National Security Studies, September 20, 2010, http://www.inss.org.il/upload/%28FILE%291284986151.pdf .
  2. ^ , IL: OMedia, http://www.omedia.co.il/Show_Article.asp?DynamicContentID=2268&MenuID=603&ThreadID=1014010&GroupContentID=2223 
  3. ^ "Israeli Merkava tank production to stop within four years", Amnon Barzilai, Globes Online Retrieved September 26, 2007.
  4. ^ Oren, Amir (2006-11-07). "IDF preparing for another conflict by next summer". Ha'aretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/784074.html. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  5. ^ "Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. http://ftp.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/IB85066.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  6. ^ a b "Merkava series". War Online. http://www.waronline.org/en/IDF/arms/merkava.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  7. ^ "Merkava Mk3 Baz". Army Technology. http://www.army-technology.com/projects/merkava/index.html. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  8. ^ "Merkava Mk 1". Israeli-Weapons. http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/vehicles/tanks/merkava/MerkavaMk1.html. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  9. ^ Simon Dunstan, Peter Sarson, Centurion Universal Tank 1943-2003 (2003), p.13, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 9781841763873
  10. ^ "Merkava Mk 2". Israeli-Weapons. http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/vehicles/tanks/merkava/MerkavaMk2.html. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
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External links

External media
  • Joel Chasnoff, "The 188th Crybaby Brigade: A Skinny Jewish Kid from Chicago Fights Hezbollah--A Memoir", 2010
Video links


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