Israel Deploys World-renowned Merkava IV Tank in Land Operations Against Hamas in Gaza Strip

Israel deploys its Merkava IV Main Battle Tank in the framework of the land operations against Hamas and the Gaza Strip. It is considered as one of the most powerful tanks in the world in terms of protection and firepower.
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The Merkava IV tank is the backbone of the Israeli Defence Forces. (Picture source Israeli MoD)

The Israeli Merkava tank was already used during the first days of HAMAS attacks on Israeli territory. On the first day of the conflict, an undisclosed number of Merkava 4 tanks were reported to have been destroyed or captured by Palestinian forces, according to information published on Social Networks.

In September 2023, Israel unveiled its next-generation main battle tank, the Merkava Mark 5, also known as "Barak" (which translates to "lightning" in Hebrew). This new tank is expected to replace all Merkava 4 tanks in the 401st Brigade by the end of 2025. The Barak tank includes advanced features to enhance the survivability and defensive capabilities.

The Merkava Mark IV is widely regarded as one of the premier tanks in the world today. One of the primary reasons for this distinction is its Trophy Active Protection System. This system positions the Merkava Mark IV as one of the world's most armored tanks, offering unparalleled protection against a diverse array of threats. This advanced protection system is designed to intercept and neutralize incoming projectiles before they can strike the tank, thereby significantly enhancing its survivability on the battlefield.

Another factor that underscores Merkava's reputation is its design philosophy centered on crew survivability. In the context of Israel, with its relatively smaller population, minimizing casualties is of paramount importance. This focus on crew safety is evident in various design choices, such as the placement of the engine at the front of the tank, which provides an additional layer of protection for the crew compartment.

Furthermore, the Merkava Mark IV boasts advanced features that enhance its firepower, versatility, and overall combat capabilities. Its powerful 120 mm gun, combined with state-of-the-art targeting systems, allows it to effectively engage and neutralize enemy armor and fortifications. Additionally, the tank's design allows it to carry a few troops, adding to its versatility in combat scenarios.

When it comes to firepower, the Merkava 4 is armed with an improved 120mm smooth-bore gun, developed by Israel Military Industries. This advanced generation gun is an evolution of the one designed for the Merkava 3. The gun is equipped with a Vidco thermal shroud that minimizes barrel bending due to environmental factors and firing conditions. It can fire a variety of munitions, including high-penetration projectiles and guided shells. The tank's loader can semi-automatically select the ammunition type, with the tank carrying 48 rounds, each stored in its protective container. An electrically operated revolving magazine holds ten ready-to-fire rounds. Additionally, the Merkava 4 is equipped with 7.62mm machine guns and an internally operated 60mm mortar system, capable of firing both explosive and illumination rounds up to a range of 2,700 meters.

In terms of protection, the Merkava 4 showcases a range of advanced defensive features. The tank's design prioritizes crew safety, with the engine compartment and one fuel tank located at the front, providing an added layer of armor. The hull has been redesigned to offer enhanced frontal armor protection. A notable feature is the modular special armor that covers the turret, safeguarding the tank against various threats, including precision-guided missiles and top-attack anti-tank weapons. The underside of the hull boasts additional armor for protection against mines. The tank also features the Trophy Active Protection System, which provides 360° coverage against threats like anti-tank rockets, missiles, and HEAT rounds. Once a threat is detected, it's tracked, classified, and an optimal intercept point is computed before launching a countermeasure.

As for mobility, the Merkava 4 is powered by a GD 883 V-12 diesel engine, rated at 1,500hp, representing a 25% power increase compared to the Merkava 3's 1,200hp engine. This engine is manufactured by the German company MTU and produced under license by General Dynamics Land Systems in the USA. The tank also features an automatic five-gear transmission, an upgrade from the Merkava 3's four gears. The transmission system, manufactured by Renk, combined with the tank's powerful engine, ensures swift and agile movement across various terrains. The redesign of the hull around the new powerpack not only enhances protection but also improves the driver's field of view. For better reverse driving, the driver utilizes a camera.

Defense News October 2023