As the Israeli army transitioned from the open-air battlefields of its early years to the contested urban environment of its later years, it was necessary to modernize its armored forces to meet new demands. One of the most notable additions in 1979 was the entry of the Merkava Main Battle Tank (MBT) into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a homegrown solution, with more than 2,000 of these tanks produced across four advanced brands. After the arrival of Merkava, the MBT needed to be combined with a heavy armored personnel carrier (APC) for close-quarters combata vehicle that could survive improvised explosive device (IED) and missile/grenade attacks while facilitating combat.
The ready infantry is protected.
With a large stockpile of captured Soviet-origin/ex-Arab-owned T-54/T-55 MBTs, the Israel Defense Forces laid the groundwork for a new tracked carrier, the Achzarit (Brutal). Soviet tanks were heavily modified for this role, their turret was completely removed, the chassis was redesigned, and the engine was relocated to the rear left of the hull. Suspension has been improved to meet IDF requirements. The driver's position is front left and the vehicle commander is front center.
To his right is the position of the gunner under the Overhead Weapon Station (OWS) developed by Rafael Israel. The three were the main operators, while the central part of the hull was reserved for seven infantrymen. A tunnel leads to a clamshell-type upper and lower door system mounted on the right side of the rear surface of the fuselage. Each main crew position has an overhead hatch, while the passenger compartment has two additional hatches.
Devices standardized in the Achzarit design include the NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) kit and Night Vision (NV) for low-level lighting operation.
The resulting exterior design is a profile that encourages the flattest possible from any angle. The Glacis panel is particularly flat, almost horizontal, while only the right rear area has the raised portion at the top of the fuselage.
Crew positions receive visual blocks to enhance situational awareness, and a locally developed Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) block armor scheme implemented on the vehicle further enhances survivability. Armor protection reaches a thickness of 200 mm.
A fire detection/suppression system has been added to control the spread of fire on the vehicle in the event of a direct impact.
The engine of choice became a 650-horsepower Detroit Diesel 8V-71 TTA Series water-cooled diesel-powered V8 system. It was chosen because of its compact size to fit in the rather limited space in the rear left of the vehicle.
The landing gear consisted of five twin-tire wheels on one side of the fuselage, the drive sprockets were at the rear and the track idlers were at the front. Side armor skirts protect the upper parts of the track links while leaving the wheels mostly exposed.
Performance includes a road speed of up to 65 km/h and a range of up to 600 km on the road.
The main armament is mounted on the OWS and consists of 1 x 7.62mm M240 medium machine gun. Three trunnion mounts were added to increase the self-defense potential of another 3 x 7.62mm machine gun system - although these are externally powered.
A pilot vehicle was provided while working on Achzarit in 1987. Trials were then carried out and the design proved to be successful enough to officially adopt the IDF in 1988. This product is manufactured at the Israel Ordnance Factory in Tel a Shomer.
The initial production spawned the Achzarit Mk I, followed by the slightly improved Achzarit Mk 2, which improved the line's acceleration and power-to-weight ratio. It is powered by a Detroit Diesel 8V-92 TA diesel engine rated at 850 hp.
Later versions also added a boxy superstructure with bulletproof glass at the commander's position, allowing for a view of the surroundings without direct exposure.
Since its launch, Achzarit has been used in all major border confrontations with the Israel Defense Forces and its survivability has been proven time and time again. Its only known variant is a Command Post (CP) vehicle with upgraded communications equipment to aid Allied forces on the battlefield.
- Troop Transport
6.56 ft (2 m)
49 tons (44,000 kg; 97,003 lbs)
373 miles (600 km)
1 x 7.62mm Medium Machine Gun (MMG) at the remote Raphael Overhead Weapon Station (OWS).
3 x 7.6mm Medium Machine Gun (MMG)
Achzarit ("grey") - the name of the basic series
Achzarit Mk I - 1988 original model; Detroit Diesel 8V-71 TTA diesel engine, 650 hp.
Achzarit Mk II - Updated model with 850 hp Detroit Diesel 8V-92 TA diesel engine; improved power-to-weight ratio for improved performance.