The Defense Ministry unveiled on Monday the IDF’s first wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC).
The platform will soon enter service, joining the tracked Namer APC and eventually replacing the aging and vulnerable M113 platforms.
The Defense Ministry’s Tank Administration announced it had built the first prototype of the APC, dubbed Eitan, after completing the development stage.
The development process was informed by “lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge” against Hamas in Gaza in 2014, the ministry said.
The eight-by-eight wheeled vehicle will be powered by a 750-horsepower engine and will have an active protection system to intercept RPGs and antitank missile threats.
It can reach speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour and ferry infantry soldiers from one battle sector to another while traveling along roads without the need for military trailer services. It can also travel through difficult terrain, according to the Defense Ministry.
Fleets of Eitan APCs will join the Namer, the most heavily fortified APC in the world, enabling the IDF to gradually phase out the thousands of 1970s-era M113 APCs, which were highly vulnerable to armor-piercing projectiles in Gaza.
The Eitan is a multipurpose fighting vehicle that will have a remote-controlled gun and missile launcher that can be operated without crews leaving the vehicle and thus exposing themselves, Tank Administration commander Brig.- Gen. Baruch Matzliah told reporters on a conference call.
“This does not replace the Namer,” he said. “It travels quickly on roads between sectors. It will work together with the Namer, allowing us to engage faster.”
The Eitan will be less fortified than the Namer, but its faster speeds mean the IDF will be able to move ground forces between north and south at much higher speeds, Matzliah said.
At the same time, its conventional armor and Trophy active protection system will keep the vehicle safe from shoulder-fired missile threats, he said.
The Tank Administration and the IDF Ground Forces began a series of tests in recent days involving the Eitan prototype.
“The Eitan will be the most advanced and fortified wheeled fighting vehicle in the world,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The Eitan will turn into a family of APCs that will include a vehicle for transporting 12 combat soldiers while being able to conduct strikes on the battlefield using a roof-mounted gun and missiles.