The Merkava reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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The Merkava is a series of tanks developed and manufactured by Israel for the Israel Defence Forces.

The Merkava ("Chariot") has been designed for crew survival. For example, the power plant is placed in the front of the tank, which provides additional crew protection.

It is produced at the tank production factory at the Tel Hashomer Armoured Corps base.

Israeli Merkava Mk-III main battle tankEnlarge

Israeli Merkava Mk-III main battle tank

General Characteristics
Length: 7,6 m
Width: 3,7 m
Height: 2,7 m
Weight: 69 tons
Speed:60 km/h (road)
55 km/h (off-road)
Range:500 km
Primary armament:120 mm smoothbore gun
(50 rounds of ammunition)
Lahat anti-tank missile
(when operational)
Secondary armament:Three 7.62 mm machine guns
(two on the turret, one co-axial)
One 60 mm internal mortar
Power plant:1,500 hp (1,119 kW) diesel (Mk 4)
1,200 hp (895 kW) diesel (Mk 3)
900 hp diesel (671 kW) Mk 1 and Mk 2
1400 liters fuel capacity


Table of contents
1 History
2 Merkava Mk 1
3 Merkava Mk 2
4 Merkava Mk 3
5 Merkava Mk 4
6 General Remarks
7 See Also
8 External Links


Following the Six Day War and the French embargo on Israel, the UK have signed a deal with Israel of a joint development of a new battle tank - the Chieftain. In 1969, following Arab pressure, the Brits canceled the deal with Israel and expelled them from the Chieftain project. Israel have realized that it can't count on other countries to supply it weapon systems and considered a self-manufacturing of a main battle tank - one of the most cruical elements of ground armoured forces.

The Israeli government decided in 1970 that it needed an indigenous tank-building capacity. General Israel Tal led a development team which took into consideration Israel's unique battlefield characteristics and lessons learned from previous wars.

Merkava Mk 1

The Merkava was first introduced into service in April 1979. It developed for the rough terrain of the northern region of Israel and the Golan Heights. It was equipped with a 105 mm gun and featured power plant in the front and rear door. It took part in Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982.

Merkava Mk 2

The Merkava Mk 2 was first introduced into service in 1983. It introduced serveral improvement focusing on urban warfare and crew survivability, following Israel's incursion into Lebanon in 1982 and the battles in Beirut.

Merkava Mk 3

Following information gained in Israel's incursion into Lebanon in 1982, the Merkava Mk 3 was introduced in 1990. The Mark 3 introduced a 1200 horsepower (895 kW) engine, a new suspension and transmission system, and a new 120 mm smooth-bore gun.

A 1995 version, the Mk 3B (also known as Merkava Baz), had an improved fire-control system and a built-in NBC protection and air-condition system.

Merkava Mk 4

The Merkava Mk 4 has improved mobility, enabling the tank to move more easily in the Golan Heights, whose terrain can limit tank movements. It also has the capacity to engage and shoot down anti-tank helicopters, such as the French SA342L Gazelle anti-tank helicopters and Russian Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters of the Syrian Air Force.

In addition, the Merkava has improved armor on the front and sides of the tank and even on the top of the turret. It also has 0.5 in (12.7 mm) co-axial machine gun (MAG Refael) which enables the tank crew to shoot soft targets from the turret without getting out. The internal 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine gun and the rear door are proved to be useful in urban warfare.

Yet another improvement is the development of a Battle Management System designed by Elbit Systems, which uses digital information to update planning, navigation, and briefing of crews. The Battle Management System can record data gained during the mission.

A video system gives the driver 360 degree visibility around the tank at all times.

General Remarks

Like any other tank, the Merkava is vulnerable to command-detonated mines. Two Merkavas have been destroyed in the Gaza Strip by Palestinians.

Overall, the Merkava project is considered a great success, both in its military aspects and and economical aspects.

See Also

External Links