Armored vehicles have had great importance in the defense of the State of Israel since the day of its independence in 1948.
Several of the invasions that Israel suffered by its Arab neighbors were carried out with tank forces, so the Israeli Army had to buy tanks from Western countries. Israel received American tanks M-22 Locust, M-4 Sherman, M-48 and M-60 Patton, British tanks Centurion and French light tanks AMX-13 .
With the great experience acquired, in the 1970s Israel Military Industries began to develop its first own tank: the Merkava ("Chariot", in Hebrew). The first model, the Merkava MkI, introduced some innovations such as the front position of the engine, to offer better protection to the crew, and a small troop compartment with a ramp at the back, so that this tank could also operate as an infantry fighting vehicle.
The current version of the Merkava in service in the Israeli Army is the MkIV. In total there are 400 Merkava MkIV tanks in active service and another 200 Merkava MkIV and 700 Merkava MkIII in storage, as part of the reserve forces. The Merkava IV is one of the best and most advanced tanks in the world. It weighs 65 tons and can reach a speed of 64 km/h on the road. It has a modular armor system that offers great protection to its crew and allows damaged parts to be replaced easily. One of the great advantages of this tank over other models is the Trophy active protection system, installed on the MkIVM Meil Ru'ach version and which has been designed to detect and destroy anti-tank missiles and propelled grenades. by rocket.
The main armament of the Merkava MkIV is a 120 mm MG253 smoothbore gun, an Israeli version of the German Rheinmetall L44 gun, which can fire conventional ammunition and also the IMI LAHAT anti-tank missile., laser guided. The tank carries 48 rounds for the main gun. Additionally, it carries a barrel-mounted 12.7 mm Browning M-2 heavy machine gun (or a 40 mm Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher), two 7.62 mm FN MAG machine guns (one mounted as a coaxial machine gun next to the main gun and another next to the commander's hatch), a 60 mm mortar in the turret and 12 smoke grenade launchers.
Like its predecessors, the Merkava MkIV carries four crew members (commander, gunner, loader and driver) and has a compartment for six soldiers, with an access ramp in its back part. Manufacturing of the Merkava MkIV began in 2004 and currently the Israeli Army is already introducing its successor: the Merkava MkV Barak, which includes, among other improvements, a defense system against drones. You can see below these lines a video showing the delivery of some MkV Barak to the 401st "Ikvot HaBarzel" Brigade:
If you want to know more about the Merkava MkIV, yesterday AiTelly published an excellent video showing the inside of the MkIVM Meil Ru'achversion. The video also explains how the Trophy system works:
Main photo: Israel Defense Forces. A Merkava MkIV tank of the Israeli Army's 188th Armored Corps during an exercise in northern Israel in November 2015.
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