IDF prepares to unleash the 'Tiger'

Army unveils new heavy infantry fighting vehicle, designed to get soldiers to and from the battlefield.

idf tiger 248.88 (photo credit: IDF)
idf tiger 248.88
(photo credit: IDF)
The IDF officially unveiled a new vehicle on Sunday designed to get infantry to and from the battlefield more efficiently. The Tiger, a heavy infantry fighting vehicle built on the chassis of the Merkava 1 battle tank, "will be a significant aspect of operations in infantry brigades and will allow us to better perform ground maneuvers in order to achieve decision on the battlefield," said OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi. A number of the vehicles would be deployed by the end of the year, Mizrahi said. The Tiger is expected to be much more secure against anti-tank weapons, such as those used by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and by Hizbullah in Lebanon, than its predecessors. The Tiger prototype was first displayed in March 2005 at a Low Intensity Conflict exhibition in Tel Aviv, and since then, the Merkava Tank Directorate has been working on production. To make the Tigers, the turret, top and driver station hatch have been removed from old Merkava 1 tanks, and replaced with increased armor, including a new armored rear door that doubles as a ramp. The Merkava 1 is more than 20 years old. The underbelly of the Tiger reportedly includes special armor to protect from bombs and mines. And in what is likely good news for the 11 soldiers who will remain nestled inside the vehicle for upwards of 24 hours, the Tiger will have a toilet facility - something that other Armored Personnel Carriers used by the IDF lack. In July, the Web site reported that the first 15 Tigers would be delivered for operational use in 2008 - an estimate that coincides with the announcement made on Sunday. At the time, the Web site also predicted that the IDF would ultimately produce more than 100 such vehicles, enough to provide support for at least two infantry brigades.