Israel confirms negotiations on Merkava tank export

By Arie Egozi

Israel has, for the first time, confirmed that it is in negotiations with some foreign countries that want to purchase decommissioned Israeli-made Merkava tanks. The Israeli Ministry of Defence stated that following the war in Europe, several countries expressed interest in acquiring Merkava tanks from the IDF's surplus.

“The discussions have not yet resulted in an agreement and await approval from the Ministry of Defence, as well as the interested countries,” said the Israeli defence sources.

Morocco is among the countries that have shown interest in purchasing the old tanks, according to the sources. The Merkava Mk 2 and 3 tanks will be refurbished before being transferred to the foreign country that signs a contract. The interested countries have submitted a list of Israel-made systems they want to obtain along with the older versions of this combat-proven tank. These include highly advanced Automatic Protection Systems (APS) against anti-tank weapons and other Israeli-made systems.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) armored corps currently operates the Merkava Mk 4 tank, which is currently undergoing upgrades. The first upgraded tanks will be delivered to the IDF in mid-2023. The new tank is expected to be capable of performing multiple missions in the fast-evolving “war zone,” where main battle tanks are a primary target for the enemy.

Most of the new features being developed for the upgraded version are highly classified. According to defence sources, the upgraded Merkava 4 “Barak” (Lightning) will be equipped with an improved Trophy APS system made by Rafael and a commander’s helmet that prioritizes relevant data gathered by the tank’s own sensors and others in the battle area. The new version will also have a system that automatically fires on targets that pose a danger to the tank, such as units launching anti-tank missiles.

An advanced main computer will give the tank’s crew the ability to focus on the most relevant targets while sharing the data with other tanks and units on the ground and in the air. Some of the new systems to be integrated into the “Barak” are based on the combat suit developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for an advanced armored fighting vehicle, while others are specifically developed for the new version of the Merkava 4.

The “Iron Vision” commander’s helmet will have the capability, according to sources, to provide a 360-degree view and receive combat data from other tanks and participants in the fighting. The system is designed to locate and destroy time-sensitive targets with small footprints through quick acquisition and effective engagement.

According to the IDF, the tank crew will be able to use virtual reality (VR) simulation.



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