Israel Merkava-4 Tank
During a ceremony in June 2002, the Israel Defence Force (IDF) unveiled its new member of the Merkava family, the Mk 4 Main Battle Tank (MBT). The new tank, a fourth generation development of the 1979 Mk 1, which saw its first combat action during the 1982 Lebanon Campaign, includes new design concepts, which rate it among the best in the world for survivability and firepower.
According to the “father of the Merkava,” retired Major General Israel Tal, who, for over 30 years, has been the driving power of this revolutionary tank design concept, “The Merkava Mk 4 being a fourth generation combatproven vehicle, represents a quantum leap forward in modern tank design in all its parameters, protection, firepower, mobility, and combat control.”
The Merkava Mk 4 mounts a new, locally produced, 120mm smoothbore gun, designed to sustain higher internal ballistic pressures and generate superior muzzle velocity, which is specified for advanced kinetic energy munitions.
The new main armament can fire all types of 120mm ammunition, including APFDS-FS kinetic rounds, highexplosive antitank (HEAT) munitions, antipersonnel/antimaterial ammunition (APAM), as well as the latest Israel Aircraft Industries-developed, gun-barrel launched, laser-homing antitank (LAHAT) missile. The loader can feed the breech from a fully automated, fireproof revolving magazine, accommodating up to 10 ready rounds, and delivering four types of automatic ammunition for selection.
The semiautomatic loading system is electrically operated and ready-round selection is controlled by a microprocessor.
The new Merkava Mk 4 design eliminates the loader’s hatch, improving the loader’s position to serve the gun breech while in a sitting position. A TV monitor screen, instead of the traditional optics, improves external observation. The loader also operates the 60mm mortar tubes from inside the tank. This weapons system fires HE and illumination rounds.
A second-generation automatic tracking system (ATS), which locks on target at several kilometers range, automatically tracks moving ground targets and low-flying helicopter targets. The gunner’s sight is locked onto its designated target throughout the firing sequence, irrespectively of any evasive action the target attempts when aware that it is coming under attack. The ATS is based on video output from either a TV camera (daylight channel) or thermal imaging camera (night channel).