Move will increase the survivability of Israeli military forces; Israel in negotiations with several countries over Merkava sale
By YAAKOV KATZ
Production will begin soon in the US of the IDF’s new Namer (leopard in Hebrew, pronounced nah-mer) armored personnel carrier (APC) after the Defense Ministry awarded General Dynamics a massive tender to develop the vehicle.The move is poised to increase the survivability of Israeli military forces, At the cutting edge of APC technology and claimed to be one-of-its-kind in the world by officers in the Ground Forces Command, the Namer is based on the Merkava MK4 Battle Tank and is claimed to have an ever-high level of reinforced steel protection. The decision to develop the new APC was made after the Second Lebanon War in 2006 during which IDF armor suffered heavy losses to Hizbullah anti-tank missiles.Battalion 13 of the Golani Brigade has already been outfitted with the Namer and a senior Defense Ministry official said that the remaining three Golani battalions would receive the APC over the next three years.Under the tender awarded to General Dynamics, Israel will manufacture around 600 Namers over the next eight years. BAE Systems and Textron also competed for the tender which will, in a first phase, reach $400 million. Local industry could benefit from tens of millions of dollars in industrial cooperation during that time period.In addition, the Defense Ministry is in talks with a number of countries, including Colombia, over the possible sale of the Merkava, the IDF’s main battle tank, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Israel has never sold the Merkava, the largest military platform it manufactures independently.The decision to open the Merkava for export was made by Defense Ministry directorgeneral Udi Shani as part of an effort to increase Israeli defense sales to around $10 billion annually.The decision to issue the Namer tender in the US was made due to budgetary constraints.AdvertisementIf the Namer is made in the US, the IDF will be able to pay for the production with the foreign military financial aid it receives annually from the US and most of which needs to be spent in America.The Namer has advanced defensive systems and an internal air-conditioning unit which enables the vehicle to continue operating in areas contaminated by nonconventional weapons. The Namer carries a number of machine guns, missile launchers, and reconnaissance equipment.The Namer will also be equipped with an active-protection system developed by Israel Military Industries called the Iron Fist active and which is said to be capable of intercepting and destroying a wide range of anti-tank missiles, from old rocket- propelled grenades and standard tank shells to the new generation of Russian-made advanced missiles in Hizbullah’s and Syria’s arsenals.