Israeli AFVs

I'm an Israeli. You like AFVs. Let's make this work.

I'll start with something iconic. A Merkava 4M patrol, showing for the first time some sort of cover for the radar panels. Perhaps ballistic protection, as the cover appears metallic or at least hard, and not a fabric.

16008934758004_b.jpg

Something interesting to note is that from this perspective, closer to the ground and at a distance, the size of the hull and turret, relative to each other, can be observed accurately.
A common saying about the tank, perhaps a misunderstanding, is that the hull is exceedingly large and vulnerable, while in fact it is the 2nd smallest hull in the west in terms of height, only surpassed by the Abrams, whose rather unique protection scheme requires such height restrictions.

The turret, however, is externally the biggest in the west.

First time I was near a Merkava 4, I was surprised at how small its hull is, and how big its turret is. And then when I went inside I was also surprised how small the turret is, and is just inflated in size by armor.

Here's some data I collected via pixel counting, showing relative height only:

T-14 T+H = 60
T-14 T = 23
T-14 H = 37

T-90 T+H = 45
T-90 T = 19
T-90 H = 26

M1A2 T+H = 51
M1A2 T = 22
M1A2 H = 29

Leopard 2A5 T+H = 56
Leopard 2A5 T = 23
Leopard 2A5 H = 33

Leclerc T+H = 53
Leclerc T = 22
Leclerc H = 31

Challenger 2 T+H = 56
Challenger 2 T = 22
Challenger 2 H = 34

Ariete T+H = 54
Ariete T = 21
Ariete H = 33

Merkava 4 T+H = 59
Merkava 4 T = 29
Merkava 4 H = 30
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
I wouldn’t think to compare tank capability as I lack the knowledge to do so but from a visual perspective....the Merkava would be my choice.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
I wouldn’t think to compare tank capability as I lack the knowledge to do so but from a visual perspective....the Merkava would be my choice.
Definitely not a bad answer. I found it to be quite comfy for a tank. Entrance to the driver's position could be less of a pain in the ass though.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Israel is shrinking the size of the tank fleet, yes? With that in mind do you think it will still make sense for Israel to develop a unique MBT of their own for the next generation? Or do you think it would make more sense to work together with a foreign partner? Possibly getting on board with a US project (possibly even being the main developer) or joining the Franco-German project?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
It is shrinking, yes, but not uncontrollably as we've seen with the British tank fleet, for example.
The IDF's in a complicated process of analyzing multiple new concepts simultaneously, and also multiple force structure changes, which makes long term planning far more complex.
A few of the processes, if you will:
1)Turning corp-oriented brigades into Brigade Combat Teams (BCT).
2)Introduction of an IFV as a concept (or more precisely, re-introduction, in a new form).
3)Expansion of the share of advanced IFVs and APCs in the ORBAT.
4)Expansion of the artillery's arsenal into new domains.
5)Expansion of the first line maneuvering element's arsenal.
6)Desire for greater tactical and strategic mobility over traditional protection.
7)Expansion of the share of unmanned systems on the battlefield.

With all that in mind, a tank may not be needed in such great numbers because some of its tasks are now fulfilled by other means, that are more mobile or cheaper and overall more effective than a tank in specific roles.
Still, even after the recent closure of a tank brigade, the IDF operates 11 tank brigades, each equipped with a little over 90 tanks, so I think we're doing just fine.

Anyway, back to your question.
Buying a foreign tank or any other AFV sounds appealing, but not really. You see, in times of need, desperate need, Jurassic park type fantasy where Arab armies attack Israel again but are somehow competent this time or something, Israel can buy and support foreign tanks. No biggie. Uncle Sam (holy shit I just realized it spells US...) would rejoice at that golden opportunity.
But otherwise, we have a unique level of flexibility here by designing our own AFVs.
First, we have IP (Intellectual Property) over these things, so no legal obstacles to quick modifications.
Second, by doing everything at home we ensure none can interfere regardless of the legality.
Third, we set the schedule.
Fourth, we decide what goes in and what goes out.

Can't have that in a partnership, especially if it has many members.
Our AFVs are tailored for our needs.

I dare say, other than the air force, RAPAT (our agency for development of AFVs) and MANTAK (AFV program directorate), are probably the only truly efficient and extremely competent organizations in the army.
They are never behind or ahead of schedule. They're exactly on time with everything. Always prepared for emergency (tank production can go uninterrupted for several years even during complete blockade/embargo on Israel), and they're extremely quick and efficient when it comes to implementing lessons learned from combat. And they're also the least technophobic bunch in the ground army.

Losing our ability to design AFVs would be a colossal disaster.

Besides, with 30 tanks produced annually for over 40 years uninterrupted, it's a sustainable and stable business.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
The Namer is a good example of a IFV which specifically addresses Israeli needs. It’s massive weight offers unparalleled projection but deploying this vehicle overseas would be a nightmare, something Israel doesn’t need to do.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
The Namer is a good example of a IFV which specifically addresses Israeli needs. It’s massive weight offers unparalleled projection but deploying this vehicle overseas would be a nightmare, something Israel doesn’t need to do.
And that's something that might change. The IDF's attitude towards such 65 ton hulks has changed.

The 30-ton mark they've set for a future family of tracked vehicles by 2027 may require a lot of exotic technologies to achieve, but in any case it shows a departure from the armored hulk concept.
Although I would admit that they have managed to create the Eitan at a maximum weight of 35 tons (no vehicle hits its max weight at such early stage, so likely 29-32 tons right now), yet despite wheeled vehicles being generally heavier than tracked for the same level of protection, it managed to achieve an extraordinary level of protection. The front will take an ATGM (largely due to engine), will protect from any existing autocannon from any angle, and can also protect against the common RPG.
I'm sure such a level of protection can be copied for a 30 ton tracked vehicle, and even improved.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
It is shrinking, yes, but not uncontrollably as we've seen with the British tank fleet, for example.
The IDF's in a complicated process of analyzing multiple new concepts simultaneously, and also multiple force structure changes, which makes long term planning far more complex.
A few of the processes, if you will:
1)Turning corp-oriented brigades into Brigade Combat Teams (BCT).
2)Introduction of an IFV as a concept (or more precisely, re-introduction, in a new form).
3)Expansion of the share of advanced IFVs and APCs in the ORBAT.
4)Expansion of the artillery's arsenal into new domains.
5)Expansion of the first line maneuvering element's arsenal.
6)Desire for greater tactical and strategic mobility over traditional protection.
7)Expansion of the share of unmanned systems on the battlefield.

With all that in mind, a tank may not be needed in such great numbers because some of its tasks are now fulfilled by other means, that are more mobile or cheaper and overall more effective than a tank in specific roles.
Still, even after the recent closure of a tank brigade, the IDF operates 11 tank brigades, each equipped with a little over 90 tanks, so I think we're doing just fine.

Anyway, back to your question.
Buying a foreign tank or any other AFV sounds appealing, but not really. You see, in times of need, desperate need, Jurassic park type fantasy where Arab armies attack Israel again but are somehow competent this time or something, Israel can buy and support foreign tanks. No biggie. Uncle Sam (holy shit I just realized it spells US...) would rejoice at that golden opportunity.
But otherwise, we have a unique level of flexibility here by designing our own AFVs.
First, we have IP (Intellectual Property) over these things, so no legal obstacles to quick modifications.
Second, by doing everything at home we ensure none can interfere regardless of the legality.
Third, we set the schedule.
Fourth, we decide what goes in and what goes out.

Can't have that in a partnership, especially if it has many members.
Our AFVs are tailored for our needs.

I dare say, other than the air force, RAPAT (our agency for development of AFVs) and MANTAK (AFV program directorate), are probably the only truly efficient and extremely competent organizations in the army.
They are never behind or ahead of schedule. They're exactly on time with everything. Always prepared for emergency (tank production can go uninterrupted for several years even during complete blockade/embargo on Israel), and they're extremely quick and efficient when it comes to implementing lessons learned from combat. And they're also the least technophobic bunch in the ground army.

Losing our ability to design AFVs would be a colossal disaster.

Besides, with 30 tanks produced annually for over 40 years uninterrupted, it's a sustainable and stable business.
Buying a foreign tank - sure. But what about a joint partnership with complete or near complete technology sharing? Possibly even different vehicles around certain common base technologies and components? Or even serving as the main developer with a major foreign partner like the US providing much of the capital and production volume?
 

Terran

Member
Buying a foreign tank or any other AFV
It’s kinda funny you say that as Namer might be at least in part just that. A number of Namer hulls was built by GDLS at the Lima JSMC in the US for the IDF. I am sure at least 7 units were delivered based on reporting.
source.https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/namer-israeli-leopard-coming-to-the-usa-06620/
Eltan 8x8 also have a significant amount of US made parts in them.
Although the US doesn’t use them it seems likely the intent was to off load some of the systems cost and off shore some off the production chain to the US due to both the US military aide and production capacity.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
Buying a foreign tank - sure. But what about a joint partnership with complete or near complete technology sharing? Possibly even different vehicles around certain common base technologies and components? Or even serving as the main developer with a major foreign partner like the US providing much of the capital and production volume?
I already addressed joint projects. They will always have some dependence on another user. The IDF thus tries to minimize all that.
Regarding shared technology, you'll see that the local companies making components for those AFVs are very active on a global scale - Elbit, Rafael, IAI, all very active even in the US. A lot of countries already share technology, but on its own vehicles the IDF will prefer to import as little as possible.

And regarding production abroad, see my reply to Terran.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
Hi Terran, I believe the matter of production abroad is a bit off topic. It does mean you depend at least in the short term on someone else, but there are 2 factors to consider here:
1)Israeli companies maintain the entire IP for those vehicles, and GDLS for example would need a license to produce these components for anyone other than Israel, because they have no IP over them. Similarly, many companies are offering other companies' products, for example GDLS offering Elbit's turrets, Leonardo DRS offering Rafael's Trophy and so on. But it's always under some license.
Should there be a need, Israeli companies can move all of the work done in the US to Israel. The only exception is engines.

In a not too recent series of interviews given by Israel Tal (former well decorated General who birthed the Merkava), he said the process of lesson learning, decision making, and implementation in everything related to AFVs, could take weeks in the IDF - from identifying a need to providing an operational solution.
The same process, he said, took many years in the US, so he strived to maintain the flexibility he created.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
Elbit Systems offers its "Sabrah" tank for the Philippines, perhaps a bad choice of name considering the relative success of a different tank named Sabra, made by the same company.

It will be based on a GDLS ASCOD hull with an Elbit made turret. It also offers the same system on a Pandur hull but that is not for the Philippines.

Here's a PDF:

The Sabrah turret itself appears quite generic, but one innovative feature it has is that the gunner's sight is panoramic, a technologically very difficult feat, but could allow Elbit to market this turret as anything from a low end one, to very high end one.
Elbit's portfolio allows it to offer a substantial amount of add-ons that make this turret extraordinarily advanced.
However, in my personal opinion, Elbit should also offer it with a 120mm of its design (they already have one) for the European market, perhaps even the American one.

Media Report:


Moderator Edit: URL corrected.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14
A little thought I had back when LAND 400 was still in its infancy, the Eitan could be suitable for the Australian army, as well as possibly the Namer (in its newer 1500hp variant).

But there's quite a big problem here. Those AFVs are not marketed by any Israeli defense company. They are instead marketed by a special agency that simply cannot offer what a private company can, nor is it nearly as efficient as one.
Quite a lot of export potential is squandered here, as European armies in particular could show interest in those AFVs.

Of course, with 3 major defense companies all dying to get the IP for those AFVs, it could be a problem. But problems are meant to be solved.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #16
Yes, but not so many require deployment by air, and even fewer are actually capable of it. Therefore suitable for certain European countries.
By acquiring the IP for said AFVs, private companies could make their own modifications to fit a whole range of demands.
As it stands, the only company that can offer something of the sort is Elbit, and even then it relies on foreign platforms.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
Between the years 1996-2000, the IDF had tested an experimental APS called Purple Thunder (Ra'am Sagol).
It was developed by Elta, IMI, and MAFAT (Israel's equivalent of DARPA).
It consisted of at least some radar panels and a large array of smoke grenades, with soldiers saying it was supposed to jam missiles.

The systems were mounted on Merkava 3 tanks that were stationed in the farthest IDF outpost in Lebanon (Israel occupied a strip of southern Lebanon between 1982-2000). The company sized unit was tasked with taking as much heat as possible before returning fire, to properly test the system.

Over the years the tanks came under a lot of fire but rarely ATGMs. In the very few occasions ATGMs were fired, the system malfunctioned. Fortunately, none was ever hurt in any way, and it's a testament to the capabilities of these tanks, the skills of the operators and of the commanders, and just a bit of luck.

Side-front radar panel:
rkN1fpnLD_0_69_1152_648_0_large.jpg

Large stack of smoke grenades:
r1e41zTh8v_1_102_960_540_0_large.jpg

IDF vs Hezbollah score board (assuming the marks are ATGM teams and fire teams but I could be wrong):
BJz4yz62Lw_0_0_960_543_0_large.jpg

Rear radar panel:20201017_155314.jpg
 
Top