Right on schedule, Israel has
rolled out its first new Nemer IFV (infantry fighting vehicle). This vehicle is
based on the chassis of older Merkava I and II series tanks that are being retired. There was one
unexpected feature. The Nemer has a toilet. That's actually not a first for an
infantry combat vehicle (not counting
many previous improvisations.) The current British Warrior and Swedish CV 90
also have toilets on board. In the combat zone, it's often prudent to keep
everyone inside for extended periods. So a toilet makes sense. In practice, the
onboard toilet is generally not used for its designed purpose, and is instead
used for storage. No one wants to clean the damn thing, even when there's
shooting going on outside.
will have the thick armor of the Merkava. With the turret removed, a remotely
controlled (from inside the vehicle) heavy machine-gun has been added. The
Merkava lends itself to this kind of modification, because the engine is
mounted in the front and there is already a door in the back of the vehicle.
Israelis liked the speed of the Stryker, which they considered ordering, but
they felt they will still be fighting in urban areas, against Palestinian
terrorists, in the next ten years. There, the Nemer has an edge, because of its
thicker armor. Out in the open, the Stryker has an edge. If the Israelis cannot
afford to build enough Nemers, they will add armor to their existing supply of
M-113 APCs. But based on tests, trooper prefer the Nemer.
will carry eleven people (a driver, gunner, vehicle commander and eight
infantry). The passenger compartment is also equipped with a stretcher, that
enables one casualty to be carried along with a full load of 11 troops. In
addition to the remotely controlled 12.7mm machine-gun, there is also a roof
hatch on the left forward part of the vehicle, for the commander to use, and
also operate a 7.62mm machine-gun. The vehicle also has the Merkava battle
management system, as well as four cameras providing 360 degree vision around
the vehicle. The remotely controlled machine-gun has a night vision sight.
over two hundred Merkava I tanks, the
oldest are at least 25 years old. Removing the turret leaves you with a 44 ton
Nemer, the heaviest IFV ever built. Earlier, Israel had experimented with using
T-55 and Centurion tanks as IFVs. This did not work because the engines in
these vehicles were in the rear, where the exit doors of AFVs usually are. Thus
troops had to enter and exit via top hatches. This was not a good idea in
combat. When the older Merkavas became available, IFV conversions were an
obvious application. Israeli troops were not happy with their elderly and
poorly protected M113 APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers), and were eager to get
a safer vehicle.
fifteen Nemers are expected this year, and over a hundred more will eventually
equip two combat brigades. The conversion process costs about $750,000 per
vehicle. The first vehicles will enter
service next year.