An Armored Corps brigade based in the North is set to do away with its aged tanks and begin receiving the IDF’s last word in tank warfare, the Merkava Mark IV, equipped with the Trophy antitank- missile shield.
Based in the Golan Heights, the 7th Armored Brigade has relied on Merkava Mark II tanks for more than 20 years. Some of the older tanks were manufactured in the late 1970s, but have since undergone a series of technological upgrades.
The 7th Armored Brigade’s tank crews have begun training with the new, hi-tech replacement at the Shizafon Advanced Armor Training Base in the Negev. New recruits to the brigade are now sent to train in the Merkava Mark IV, while battalions that worked the Mark II until now will this year take a two-month “conversion” course, enabling them to switch platforms. The first battalion to undergo a conversion course will begin using the Mark IV in August, according to the army.
The Mark IV is one most technologically advanced and deadly tools available to the ground forces.
It is fitted with on-board computers that improve the accuracy of weapons systems, and can send and receive precise target locations, allowing for improved command and control communications, and better cooperation with other forces.
The Trophy defense system provides 360 degree-protection for the tank, and can intercept multiple incoming anti-tank missiles. It has proven itself on the Gaza border, destroying an anti-tank missile in 2012.
Maj. Javier Gochman, head of the Armored Corps Merkava section, said battalions that make the switch over will have “significantly enhanced” operational abilities. In the long run, the IDF plans to upgrade the tanks of all enlisted and reserve armored brigades.