The Merkava main battle tank designed by the Israelis can be regarded as the most dynamic and distinctive main battle tank in the world today.
Ever Since the Merkava tank was with the Israeli army in 1978, it has experienced the Palestine and Israel conflict. With the many disputes that broke out, it can be said that each step of the development of “Merkava” embodies the lessons of blood and fire in wars.
Merkava’s hull is cast, and the upper front armor is a bulletproof shape armor plate. The right side is higher than the left side.
Design and the features of the Merkava Main Battle Tank.
Behind the layer of cast iron is a hollow armor filled with diesel for high stability and inertness. Followed by another layer of armor, this structure gives the tank better resistance to armor-piercing and anti-tank missiles. The Merkava main battle tank has a pointed turret with a small frontal area and a low hit rate.
There is a large tail compartment at the rear, where the radio and hydraulic parts are placed. The commander is on the right side of the gun, the gunner is in the forward and lower positions of the commander, and the loader is on the left and rear of the gun.
The turret is made of a modular armor design. The armor module is equipped with composite armor plate components connected to the turret base and fixed with bolts. This modular armor is also used on the body wall protruding from the turret seat ring, on the front upper armor plate in front of the driver, and on the side skirts.
To avoid the effect caused by the ammunition’s explosion, ammunition is not placed on the front of the Merkava tank and above the turret seat ring. Seats inside the turrets are close to the rear of the hull in a lower position to ensure the safety of the occupants.
It is worth mentioning that the armor of the Merkava main battle tank used to protect the crew accounts for 70% of the total combat weight of the tank, which is much higher than other tanks.
The Merkava tanks were designed in the early 1980s to meet specific Israeli requirements, making them self-sufficient in manufacturing tanks. Merkava has been developed in four generations, from Merkava 1 to Merkava 4.
Weapon System of Merkava
The latest variant, the Merkava 4, is equipped with a 120mm smoothbore gun, which has a unique ability that other Western tanks lack, being able to fire the anti-tank missile ‘Lahat’ from the gun. This allowed it to engage in stand-off engagements and allowed it to destroy enemy tanks from great distances.
The tank has a heavy secondary armament consisting of a 1×12.7mm machine gun, 2×7.62mm machine gun, 60mm mortar, and 12 smoke grenades. This weapon is useful in urban warfare, where infantry and concealed threats require multiple machine guns and mortars, with 48 shells and missiles inside the tank.
Another distinguishing feature of this tank is the “loot” active protection system, which uses a network of miniature radars and a network of hardware projectile dispensers to intercept projectiles like anti-tank shells and missiles. This feature is the primary layer of defense, with secondary passive defense provided by the tank’s thick armor.