The Merkava MBT
The Merkava (Hebrew for "Chariot") is the indigenous Israeli main battle tank. Planned and built with the lessons of the 1973 Yom Kippur war in mind it offers unequaled protection for it's crew, combined with massive firepower. The Merkava is one of the world's finest MBT's.
The Merkava's designers wanted to provide the crew with the best protection possible. Therefore, the tank's engine is placed in the vehicle's FRONT, and serves as a part of the armor suite. This also cleared space in the vehicle's rear, which can be used for carrying six equipped infantry men !
There were five main models :
The Merkava Mk 1, with a main105mm gun. This model took part in the Lebanon war (1982) and proved superior to the Syrian T-72 MBT (then the Soviet's newest tank).
The Merkava Mk 2, which is in fact a Mk 1 with better armor protection and improved fire control.
The Merkava Mk 2b. A Mk 2 with even better armor, newer fire control software and other system improvements. A 60mm mortar was added to the armament for infantry support.
The Merkava Mk 3. This is the newest model - and in fact it is a completely new tank. Main armament consists of a 120mm gun (Israeli produced). New armor technologies were introduced - making it one of the the best protected tanks in service today.
The Merkava Mk 3 Baz - all Mk3's were upgraded with the "Baz" ("falcon") fire control system. The Baz FC is regarded as the most advanced tank FC system in current use. It's most notable capabilty is the ability to "lock" on a target - causing the turret to automaticaly follow the target's path!
Merkava Mk 4 - according to IDF publishings, prototypes of the next Merkava model are undergoing pre-production tests. Little is known about it, besides that it will retain the 120mm IMI gun (probably with an improved thermal breech).
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