Israel’s Defense Ministry released video footage of the IDF’s latest Merkava tank successfully crossing a water obstacle during a recent operational exercise.
The Ministry of Defense’s Merkava and AFV Administration along with the seventh armored brigade and Nahal brigade have carried out exercises for the Merkava MK4 Barak as well as for the Eitan armored personnel carrier (APC) on terrain across the country.
With winter weather thrashing the country, large amounts of rain have fallen allowing troops to practice crossing water obstacles.
The trials for the Eitan saw troops train in difficult terrain from the Golan Heights to southern Israel. As the IDF’s first wheeled APC, its performance on roads were also examined.
In 2016, the Eitan underwent a comprehensive series of tests by the Ministry of Defense’s Merkava and AFV Administration in collaboration with the GOC Army Headquarters and the Nahal Brigade, who will be the first to use the vehicle.
As a wheeled APC, the Eitan will not need to be moved by heavy transporters like the Namer and other APCs, and will be more maneuverable in urban areas such as in the Gaza Strip.
At eight meters long and three meters wide, the Eitan weighs around 30-35 tons and is operated by three crew members – the commander, gunner and driver. It can carry up to nine soldiers in an air-conditioned environment.
Equipped with a 750 horsepower engine, the Eitan will be able to reach speeds of up to 90 kilometers an hour on roads in urban areas, while still being able to maneuver off-road via independent suspension and an off-the-shelf drive-train.
Conceived by Maj.-Gen. Israel Tal following the Yom Kippur War, the Merkava is the IDF’s first indigenous main battle tank. The Merkava I entered service in 1978 and first saw action in the First Lebanon War in 1982.
Israel has built over 2,000 Merkava tanks
and is currently developing the latest generation – the Merkava IV Barak – which is expected to be ready for trial runs by 2020.
The Merkava MK4 Barack is designed as a “smart tank” with dozens of sensors to identify the enemy and rapid fire closure, which allows the tank to eliminate the target before it disappears. A task computer will present all information to both the crew inside the tank, as well as to other vehicles present in the field.
The cooperation between the armored corps, the air force and navy has also changed due to 2014 Operation Protective Edge, when all branches were linked to the same network in order to simplify data sharing.
The new tank’s computer-controlled fire control system will also be able to acquire and lock on to moving targets, including airborne platforms, while the tank is moving.
The sensors, along with a 360 degree camera fitted outside the tank, will allow troops to remain in the tank at all times. A new “smart helmet” that was designed by Elbit will allow the commander to see what is outside the vehicle, such as approaching terrorists or other threats.
The Merkava is one of the first armored vehicles to be equipped with the Trophy Active Protection System (APS), the only fully operational APS in the world that has been used successfully in combat against anti-tank guided missiles.
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