The Defense Ministry has begun serial production of the Eitan, the IDF’s first wheeled armored personnel carriers (APC). They are set to become operational by the end of 2021.Based on lessons learned from fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the Eitan is intended to give troops better security as well as greater speed and mobility. The vehicle is part of the IDF’s program to modernize its armored vehicles by replacing the M113 APC. The development and production of the Eitan is led by the Armored Vehicles Directorate at the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), in cooperation with the IMoD Mission to the United States and the Directorate of Production and Procurement. First revealed in 2016, the Eitan has undergone a comprehensive series of tests by the Defense Ministry’s Merkava and AFV Administration in collaboration with the GOC Army Headquarters and the Nahal Brigade, which will be the first to use the vehicle.“Five intense years of development, which began shortly after Operation Protective Edge, led to the moment we pressed the steel cutting machines at the APC production headquarters in Tel Hashomer,” Armored Vehicles Directorate head Brig.-Gen. Guy Paglin said. “It will provide combat soldiers with quick mobility and enable them to adapt to all relevant combat scenarios. In addition, the Eitan will be the world’s most well-protected APC, equipped with advanced combat capabilities. “As a wheeled APC, the Eitan will not need to be moved on heavy transporters like the Namer and other APCs in use by the military, and it will be more maneuverable in urban areas such as the Gaza Strip.The Eitan is eight meters long and three meters wide and weighs 30-35 tons. It is operated by a commander, gunner and driver. The vehicle can transport nine fighters in an air-conditioned environment. Its body and suspension system have been improved to maximize crew protection and survivability. In addition, upgrades have been made to the steering, electric and control systems.The Eitan has a 750-horsepower engine and can cruise at 90 kph on paved roads in urban settings. It can maneuver off-road with independent suspension and an off-the-shelf drivetrain.The Eitan is equipped with an unmanned turret, an FN MAG, 0.50-caliber heavy machine gun and a 30-mm. cannon with a range of 2,500 meters. Its missile launcher can be remotely operated without crew members leaving the vehicle and exposing themselves to enemy fire.The vehicle has a peripheral observation system, a high-resolution touchscreen system offering a 360-degree view of the battlefield and a variety of advanced weapons systems, such as the Iron Fist advanced, an active defense system that can intercept missiles and rocket-propelled grenades – weapons that Hamas used with deadly accuracy against older APCs.According to the Defense Ministry, engineers in the development unit of the Armored Vehicles Directorate have implemented new technological systems that include 34 computers and processors. The computers have hundreds of thousands of lines of code, five touch screens and 10 day- and night-vision cameras.Advanced technologies were also incorporated in the turret, which were developed in cooperation with Israeli defense industries, the IDF’s Ground Forces and the Directorate of Defense Research and Development in the Ministry of Defense, the statement said.Technological and Logistics Directorate Development and Maintenance Center commander Col. Udi Amirah said production of the Eitan will be based on the production and assembly lines of the Merkava Mark IV tank and the Namer APC.“In recent months, the Merkava production in the IDF’s Technology and Logistics Directorate has been preparing for the production of the Eitan APC,” he said, adding that “we have assigned professional and skilled workers to the mission. The Development and Maintenance Center is proud to be the home base and source of the IDF’s protected platforms.”Each APC requires the production of approximately one million parts, including 20 tons of steel, 30 km. of welding wire, six km. of power and communication cable and 70 liters of paint.According to the Defense Ministry, the Eitan will be manufactured simultaneously in more than 60 industrial sites in Israel and the US.