The Merkava series of main battle tanks represent the backbone of Israeli armor elements. The system is the result of extensive experience in the field of armored warfare and is carried out only with foreign equipment, mainly American products, although some British and French systems are also used. Given the volatile day-to-day situation in Israel, the small country must equip its stockpiles with systems suited to the needs of the Israeli military. The product had to withstand the rigors of urban and desert warfare and provide maximum protection for the crew.
The resulting Merkava (or "chariot") was just that, and went on to be a key component of the IDF.
One of the most striking design features of the Merkava MBT was the decision to place the engine in the front of the hull. Traditional tank designs have always put the engine in the rear to prevent a direct frontal impact from rendering the entire system useless.
By contrast, the Merkava's engines are in the front to protect the crew from the same frontal direct hit. Therefore, the driver will sit further back, near the center of the design and directly to the left of the turret. The turret itself is designed with a circular fairing, giving the entire tank a very low profile, making the tank harder to spot or attack from a distance. Powerful (formerly) standard 105mm main gun and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun mounted on the turret.
The gun stabilization system provided the ability to fire while driving, supplemented by a domestic targeting computer. Two additional 7.62mm machine guns were also provided for self-defense against aircraft attack and as an anti-infantry weapon. The weapon design also includes a 60mm mortar.
The performance of the Mk 1 model is derived from the General Dynamics Land Systems engine - AVDS-1790-6A - a V-12 diesel engine producing approximately 900 horsepower. This powerplant allows the Merkava to reach speeds of 28 miles per hour and a range of nearly 250 miles.
Weighing only 66 tons, the Merkava is hardly a speedboat, maneuverability is questionable, but the entire system was developed on the basis of exclusive experience of Israeli standards, so it cannot be fully compared with its European counterparts.
The Merkava Mk 2 brand emerged as a further development, with improved armor protection and an improved fire control system. More importantly, however, compared to the Mk 1, the combat range has been increased and the performance figures have increased by almost a quarter.
Later, the Mk 3 came along with a powerful 120mm main gun and an improved power pack. The latest version of the Merkava series is the Merkava Mk 4, which features features that make it comparable to or replacing the current generation of main battle tanks.
In any case, Merkava was (and is) a colossal feat of engineering, accomplished by a country that has endured more battles than any other country since the end of World War II.
About 250 Mark I series tanks were produced, while a total of 580 Mark II systems were delivered. The Mark III is currently the most productive system with 750 examples. 360 Mark IVs were produced, with an additional 300 eventually added.
The chassis of the MBT Merkava is the basis for the Tankbulance Armoured Ambulance, Namer Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), Nemmera Armoured Rescue Vehicle (ARV) and the prototype Sholef 155mm Self-Propelled Gun (SPG).
- Infantry Support
- Tank vs Tank
- Main Battle Tank (MBT)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
- Troop Transport
66 tons (60,000 kg; 132,277 lbs)
249 miles (400 km)
1 x 105mm gun (1 x 120mm gun for later models)
1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun
2 x 7.62mm machine guns (1 x 12.7mm AA machine gun on later models)
1 x 60mm mortar launcher
62 x 105mm bullet
10,000 x 7.62mm ammo
Merkava Mk I - designation of the first production model; 60mm remote-controlled mortar mounted after the 1982 Lebanon war; firing trap mounted under the tail of the turret; firing chain net to counter missile attacks; 1 x 105mm main gun.
Merkava Mk II - Introduced in 1983; improved armor protection; increased range; updated fire control system, sensors and image intensifiers; improved 60mm roof mortar launcher; updated for urban/low intensity warfare ; 1 x 105mm main gun; indigenous gear design; anti-missile net.
Merkava Mk IIB - updated fire control system; thermal optics.
Merkava Mk IIC - Added armor protection up to the top of the turret.
Merkava Mk IID - Modular composite armor on chassis and turret for added protection.
Merkava Mk III - Introduced in 1989; native 1 x 120mm gun; 1,200 hp improved power pack; new transmission system; improved suspension and fire control systems; new threat warning system; laser designator.
Merkava Mk 3 "Baz" - Introduced in 1995; improved armor protection; improved fire control system with on-the-go aiming and firing capabilities; native communication system.
Merkava Mk 3D - Modular composite armor on chassis and turret.
Merkava Mk 3D "Dor-Dalet" - Improved Orbit; R-OWS implementation.
Merkava Mk 4 - latest production version; improved fire control system; improved armor protection; redesigned ammunition compartment; 1 x 120mm main gun; HEAT/Sabot capability; 1 x 12.7mm heavy machine gun introduced; improved routing ; Digital battlefield management system.
Merkava "Sholef" (Slammer) - 155mm self-propelled gun; prototype; never produced.
ARV - Armored Rescue Vehicle (Prototype)
Merkava LIC - Based on the Mk III "Baz" and Mk IV tanks, but modified for urban combat.
Merkava "Tankbulance" - Equipped with medical skills on the battlefield, but still equipped with weapons.
Merkava IFV "Namer" - Infantry Fighting Vehicle; launched in 2008.
Merkava ARV "Nemmera" - armored rescue vehicle; two versions with different crane and winch dimensions.