IDF looks to US firms to build APCs

Cutting edge 'Namer' armored personal carrier developed in response to Second Lebanon War.

IDF APC gaza border 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
IDF APC gaza border 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Despite fierce opposition from local defense contractors, the IDF plans to issue a tender in the United States in the coming months for the production of the Namer advanced armored personnel carrier. 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 has the same high level of reinforced steel protection. Battalion 13 of the Golani Brigade has already been outfitted with the Namer, and a senior officer in the Ground Forces Command said last week that the remaining three Golani battalions would receive the APC over the next three years. The IDF then plans to manufacture hundreds of Namer APCs under the military's next multi-year budget plan - which will begin in 2012. A senior employee at Israel Military Industries (IMI) expressed concern over the IDF's decision to issue a tender for the production of the Namer in the US. "This will have a major impact on us, since if it were manufactured in Israel it would be a big contract for our company," the employee said. The decision to issue the tender in the US was made due to budgetary constraints. If 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, most of which has to be spent in America. "This is going to cost a lot of money and that is why we are looking to see if we can produce it in the US, where we can use the foreign military aid," a top Ground Forces Command officer said, adding that the IDF still needed to decide whether to have the entire vehicle manufactured in the US or only some of the main components, and then have them assembled in Israel. The Namer has advanced defensive systems and an internal air-conditioning unit that enables the vehicle to continue operating in areas contaminated by non-conventional weapons. The Namer carries a number of machine guns, missile launchers, and reconnaissance equipment. The IDF decided to develop the Namer following the Second Lebanon War, during which infantry troops, in many cases, abandoned their APCs since they did not feel they adequately protected against Hizbullah's anti-tank missiles. The Namer will also be equipped with an active-protection system. Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel recently decided to purchase the Iron Fist active-protection system developed by IMI for the Namer. Currently in its final development stages, the Iron Fist is capable of intercepting and destroying a wide range of anti-tank missiles, from old RPGs and standard tank shells to the Russian-made advanced missiles in Hizbullah's and Syria's arsenals.