Armor: November 7, 2000

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The withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon gave Western observers a chance to learn more about the heavy infantry carriers Israel has built on obsolete tank chassis. These vehicles provide the best infantry protection in the world, not least because Israeli society is simply no longer able to endure a constant drain of soldiers killed in roadside ambushes. Two types are primarily used in Lebanon, the Nagmachon and Nakpadon, built on Centurion tank chassis. These are not particularly elegant vehicles (the infantry must clamber out of roof hatches), but the Achzarit (built on a T55 chassis) is used only for armored infantry in heavy tank units and the Puma is used only by the engineers. The Nagmachon is effectively a compilation of all of the upgrades done over the years to the original Nagmashot. The superstructure has been built higher (after the tank turret was removed) and is protected by explosive reactive bricks. The side skirts are nearly a foot thick and are regarded as invulnerable to RPGs. A bulky antenna on the rear deck transmits jamming signals to prevent command-detonated roadside mines. Armament includes four 7.62mm machineguns and a roof-mounted 60mm mortar. The machineguns are mounted on simple pintels; only the elaborate Achzarit heavy infantry vehicle and Puma engineer vehicle have weapons mounted in remotely-operated stations. The roadwheels show excessive wear and it is assumed that the Israelis have considerable trouble maintaining the vehicles. Nagmachon retains the original 750hp engine of the Centurion. The Nakpadon is similar, but uses passive armor rather than reactive armor plates. This makes it heavier, reaching 55 tons. The engine has been replaced by a new 900hp version.--Stephen V Cole

 


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