Armor: August 8, 2000

Archives

MERKAVA: PLUSSES AND MINUSES: The Israeli Merkava tank is of an entirely different design concept from all other tanks in service, having the engine mounted in the front and being designed for crew survivability first. The tank is under-powered, but designed for use on the rocky Golan Heights were low speed is more common than fast dashes. An analysis by US officers assigned as liaisons to the Israelis note the following:

THE GOOD POINTS

@ It has modular armor, which is easily replaced when hit, and can be upgraded to keep tanks in service longer.

@ The roof-mounted 60mm mortar is a unique Israeli feature that no one else has been sensible enough to copy.

@ The laser warning receivers are very effective.

@ The suspension provides a stable firing platform and increased protection against chemical-energy weapons.

@ The unique space in the rear provides the ability to ferry infantry or carry parts of a battalion staff.

@ Merkava has a lower thermal signature than other tanks due to the way the exhaust from the front-mounted engine is ducted.

@ The gunner or tank commander can fire the coaxial machinegun at the same time as the main gun, or separately. Since the computer controls the main gun, firing both together may well result in the machinegun rounds falling short.

@ There is a television system to provide an improved view outside of a buttoned-up tank.


@ If the intercom fails, the tank commander can use switches to control lights in the driver's compartment, indicating if he should go right, left, reverse, faster, or slower.


@ The moving target indicator can enable the gun to hit a helicopter at 3000m 80% of the time (least, in the simulators).

THE BAD POINTS

@ Merkava is grossly underpowered. It accelerates slowly, even more so on inclines. The Merkava-IV, with its 1400hp German diesel, may approach the mobility of other tanks.


@ The Israelis selected electric turret rotation to enhance crew safety, but this came at a cost of a slow slew rate. It takes Merkava a full 12 seconds for 360-degree rotation, three times as long as the American Abrams. The hydraulic system on the Abrams, being newer technology, is equally safe. 

@ The 49 rounds of ammunition in the rear compartment cannot be carried if the compartment is used for infantry, as the racks must be removed to make space. These rounds cannot be moved to the turret unless the turret is rotated to dead ahead.


@ While the auto-tracking system is effective, Israeli tanks without it had often defeated Merkavas in gunner competitions, indicating that a well-drilled crew can achieve the same results as technology. --Stephen V Cole


 


Article Archive

Armor: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close