The 65t Merkava 4 main battle tank entered full production in 2001 and began operational training with the Israel Defence Force in July 2003. The first battalion of Merkava Mk 4 tanks entered service with the Israel Defence Forces in 2004.
The Ministry of Defence plans to manufacture between 50 and 70 Merkava 4 tanks a year and up to 400 tanks may be manufactured in total, although budgetary constraints put these numbers in doubt. The Merkava 4 has been extensively improved including new armour protection and gun and electronics systems.
The Merkava 4 is slightly larger than the Merkava 3 Baz, which has been in service with the IDF since 1990. The Merkava 3 is offered for export by SIBAT based in Tel Aviv. The Merkava 4 is not offered for export but the systems and components are exported.
Merkava Mk.4 Meil Ruach / IVm Windbreaker
The Merkava Mk.4 Meil Ruach (wind coat or windbreaker) is an improved version of the Merkava Mk.4 tank, equipped with Trophy Active Protection System (APS). Sometimes this tank is referred as the Merkava Mk.4 Baz, or Merkava Mk.4M Windbreaker. The main goal was to improve protection of the Merkava Mk.4 tanks against advanced anti-tank guided missiles, fitted with tandem HEAT warheads. Production of this tank began in 2009. The first brigade equipped with these improved Merkava Mk.4 tanks was declared operational in 2011. In 2014 it has been reported, that Israel will export a number of Merkava Mk.4 tanks to an undisclosed customer, possibly Columbia. However it is unknown whether these will be fitted with Trophy active protection system. Currently the Merkava Mk.4 Meil Ruach is one of the best main battle tanks in the world.
The Trophy is an Israeli-developed hard-kill protection system for armored vehicles. It detects and intercepts incoming anti-tank rockets and anti-tank guided missiles by firing a shotgun-like blast within a few meters of the tank. The Trophy destroys incoming rockets and missiles before these have a chance of hitting the tank. Furthermore the Trophy system reportedly identifies the firing location and allows to engage anti-tank teams. Even though the original Merkava Mk.4 was one of the most protected tanks in the world already, the improved Mk.4 Meil Ruach with Trophy APS is even more survivable. The first operational success was in 2011, when the Merkava Mk.4 Meil Ruach tank successfully survived a missile attack. Since then these tanks intercepted dozens of anti-tank rockets, including RPG-29 and anti-tank guided missiles, including Kornet and Metis-M. Source military-today.com
Merkava Mk IV Barak
The new “smart tank” will include an innovative sensor system as well as AI and VR capabilities. “The new tank brings the Armored Corps a step forward in the operational arena, and constitutes an innovative weapon that will change the face of the combat on the ground”
In order to improve the Armored Corps’ operational capabilities on the modern battlefield, the corps developed the Merkava Mark 4 Barak. The tank’s new elements include artificial intelligence, updated sensors, and VR capabilities.
“Israel has an Adir [F-35] in the sky and a Merkava-4 Barak on land,” Brig. Gen. Guy Hasson, Chief IDF Armored Corps Officer, said of the new tank, expected to be ready for trial runs in 2020.
The new tank is designed as a “smart tank” with dozens of sensors and a task computer that will present all information to both the crew inside the tank as well as the other tanks and vehicles present in the field. The advanced AI capability will reduce the team members’ workload and help them more accurately locate and strike targets.
“The advanced defense capabilities and the use of electronic means will prepare the combat soldiers to carry out missions according to the level of urgency,” said a senior official from the Armored Corps. “Along with all this, additional logistical improvements will also be introduced that will enable the tank to carry out missions that are up to 30% longer than current ones.”
The tank’s sensors, along with a 360-degree camera fitted outside the tank, will allow troops to remain in the tank at all times and a new smart helmet (Elbit Systems’ Iron Vision) will allow the commander of the tank to see exactly what happens outside the tank.
“The helmet will allow the combat soldiers to see the outside environment from inside the combat vehicle,” added the senior official. “The sensors will allow the combat soldiers to operate the tank in a simple and advanced way, and will contribute to its defense – both physically and technologically.”
The simplification and sharing of intelligence and information via C4I and the interoperability of all vehicles is crucial in order to identify the enemy and provide more precise and rapid fire closure, which allows the tank to eliminate the target before it disappears.
“The Armored Corps concludes a significant period of operational successes in various regions, which proves the relevance of the corps in protecting the security of the State of Israel and its civilians,” continued the senior official. “The new tank brings the Armored Corps a step forward in the operational arena, and constitutes an innovative weapon that will change the face of the combat on the ground.” Source israeldefense.co.il
Merkava 4 main battle tank capabilities
The tank is capable of carrying eight infantry soldiers, a command group or three litter patients (stretcher casualties) in addition to the tank crew of commander, loader, gunner and driver. The tank is capable of firing on the move at moving targets and has demonstrated high hit probability in firing against attack helicopters using conventional anti-tank munitions.
Major contractors include: the El Op Electro-Optic Industries subsidiary of Elbit Systems which is responsible for the fire control system; the Israel Defence Force which carries out main construction and system integration and testing; Israel Military Industries for the supply of the main gun, ballistic protection and munitions; Imco Industries for the electrical systems; Urdan Industries for the hull, main turret and castings; and IAI Ramta for protection components.
The main part of the tank production, the construction of the hull and integration of all the systems is carried out in the Israel Defence Force workshop.
Damaged Merkava 4 exposes composite armor cross-section and the modular nature of the armor block
Merkava 4 battle tank weaponry
The Merkava 4 has a new all-electric turret developed by Elbit and subsidiary El-Op. Only one hatch is installed in the turret, the commander’s hatch.
120mm MG253 smooth-bore gun
• IMI’s SLAVIN Land Systems Division has developed and produced the 120mm L44 MG251 and MG253 smoothbore tank guns to meet the IDF’s requirements
• The MG251 and MG253 are type classified and combat-proven by the IDF’s Armored Corps on Merkava Mk3 and Mk4 MBTs, respectively
• The guns fire all NATO standard 120mm ammunition including IMI’s advanced KE, HEAT and newly-developed Multi-Purpose tank cartridges
• Both guns comply with STANAG 4385 requirments
• MG253 has a maximum recoil distance of 530mm, which gurantees a 40% reduction in recoil force
MG253 Main Characteristics:
• Barrel Length: 5300mm
• Barrel Mass: 1200kg
• Recoiling Length: 2000mm
• Nominal Recoil Distance: 430mm
• Maximum Recoil Distance: 530mm
• Force Recoil in Nominal Recoil Distance: 350 kN (kilo Newton) at 0º elevation
• Total weight: 2900kg
• Operating temperatures: -40°C to + 70° C
Vidco thermal shroud on the gun Merkava 4 – Vladimir YakubovFume extractor on the gun Merkava 4 – Vladimir Yakubov
The improved 120mm smooth-bore gun has been developed by Israel Military Industries.
The new gun is an advanced generation of the gun developed for the Merkava 3. A Vidco thermal shroud on the gun reduces bending of the barrel resulting from environmental and firing conditions. The gun can fire higher power munitions including new 120mm high-penetration projectiles and guided shells.
The loader can select semi-automatically the ammunition type. The tank carries 48 rounds of ammunition each stored in a protective container. An electrically operated revolving magazine contains 10 ready-to-fire rounds.
Electrically operated revolving magazine
aw.my.comMerkava Mk 4 Main Battle Tank – arronlee33Merkava Mk 4 Main Battle Tank – arronlee33
Microprocessor controlled, fully automated, electrically driven, 120 mm magazine rounds. The system is located in an isolated space of the turret and is designed to protect the crew in case of ammunition explosion. The system is easy to operate from the crew compartment. Also, the tank loader can select ammunition out from TEN choices of 120mm ready rounds in the revolving magazine. Source supervideo.com
The range of ammunition includes APFSDS-T M711 (CL 3254), the HEAT-MP-T M325 (CL 3105) and the TPCSDS-T M324 (CL 3139) supplied by the Ammunition Group of Israel Military Industries. The gun is also capable of firing French, German or US 120mm rounds.
125MM M711/8 (MK-2) APFSDS-T CARTRIDGE
- A 125mm second-generation APFSDS-T, Kinetic-Energy (KE) cartridge, capable of defeating modern armor
- Provides excellent accuracy at long ranges, low barrel wear and high penetration capabilities
- It incorporates a tungsten alloy penetrator
- Type classified for 125mm tank guns
120MM M325 HEAT-MP-T CARTRIDGE
- The M325 is a dual-purpose High-Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose-Tracer (HEAT-MP-T) cartridge
- Defeats Light to medium armored vehicles and bunkers, field fortifications and can incapacitate infantry troops
- The M325 tank ammunition provides increased range, accuracy and penetration capabilities
- It can be used with any NATO 120mm smooth-bore tank gun
120MM M324 TPCSDS-T CARTRIDGE
- Used in training to simulate operational KE firing
- In service by the IDF and various European armies
- Approved for use and firing with Leopard 2, Ariete, Merkava III, IV and other MBTs
- Identical external ballistics characteristics and accuracy to the operational cartridge, providing very reLAHAT (Laser Homing Attack) is an accurate lightweight missile, homing-in on a laser spot. It has a ground launch range of 8 km (10 km from helicopters) and can be supplied a variety of mission-customized warheads. The lightweight missiles and launcher do not adversely affect the helicopter’s effective mission time. LAHAT missiles, sold in significant quantities to various customers, serve as precision guided munitions, and may be launched from ships, vehicles and LAHAT (Laser Homing Attack) is an accurate lightweight missile, homing-in on a laser spot. It has a ground launch range of 8 km (10 km from helicopters) and can be supplied a variety of mission-customized warheads. The lightweight missiles and launcher do not adversely affect the helicopter’s effective mission time. LAHAT missiles, sold in significant quantities to various customers, serve as precision guided munitions, and may be launched from ships, vehicles and helicopters. Source iai.co.ilhelicopters. Source iai.co.ilalistic training scenarios
LAHAT (Laser Homing Attack) is an accurate lightweight missile, homing-in on a laser spot. It has a ground launch range of 8 km (10 km from helicopters) and can be supplied a variety of mission-customized warheads. The lightweight missiles and launcher do not adversely affect the helicopter’s effective mission time. LAHAT missiles, sold in significant quantities to various customers, serve as precision guided munitions, and may be launched from ships, vehicles and helicopters. Source iai.co.il
The tank is fitted with 7.62mm machine guns and an internally operated 60mm mortar system developed by Soltam Ltd. The mortar can fire explosive and illumination rounds to a range of 2,700m.
7.65mm MAG coaxial machine gun
The MAG Coaxial is a variant for coaxial use. It is also known as the MAG 60.40 or MAG Coaxe. The coaxial models lack buttstock, carrying handle and bipod. It can be either trigger or solenoid fired. In the UK the coaxial models are known as the L8A1 and L8A2 with improved feed mechanism. The L37A1 and L37A2 are variants of the L8A1 and L8A2 for flexible use. They feature a normal trigger assembly and there is a kit for dismounted use. The US production models are known as the M240 and M240C, with left and right hand feed respectively.
7.65mm MAG coaxial machine gun traverse and elevation as main armament 10.000 rounds in total non-stabilized.
|OPERATION||Gas operated, long stroke gas piston|
|RATE OF FIRE||?|
|BARREL LENGTH||627 mm|
|RIFLING||4 grooves, 305 mm right hand twist|
|MUZZLE VELOCITY||840 m/s|
60mm mortar within turret
This Merkava Mortar went from the 2,700 meters range out to 3,700 meters. It’s now Auto Fired & Targeted by the BMS computer. Source supervideo.com
7.65mm MAG machine gun
In the United States the MAG is produced as the M240B and M240G, with the M240B having a heat shield around the barrel and the M240G looking similar to the standard late production MAG. The M240E6 is an effort to reduce the weight of the MAG withouth reducing its effectiveness. The M240E6 uses a titanium alloy receiver and a shorter barrel.
7.62mm MAG machine gun on turret roof 10.000 rounds in total, 100 ready to fire manual traverse and elevation non-stabilized.
|OPERATION||Gas operated, long stroke gas piston|
|RATE OF FIRE||750 rpm|
|BARREL LENGTH||627 mm|
|RIFLING||4 grooves, 305 mm right hand twist|
|MUZZLE VELOCITY||853 m/s|
|SIGHTS||Iron sights, blade front and aperture rear, 851 mm sight radius, Picatinny rail for mounting optics|
The protection suite includes an advanced electromagnetic threat identification and warning system.
El Op fire control
The new fire control system, developed by El Op, includes very advanced features including the capability to acquire and lock onto moving targets, even airborne helicopters, while the tank itself is on the move.
The computer-controlled fire control system includes line-of-sight stabilisation in two axes, a second-generation television sight and automatic thermal target tracker, a laser range finder, an improved thermal night vision system and a dynamic cant angle indicator.
Commander’s station – Elbit SystemsGunner station – Elbit SystemsDriver station – Elbit Systems
The commander’s station is fitted with a stabilised panoramic day and night sight. The integrated operating system includes advanced data communications and battle management. Tadiran developed the Merkava’s communications system, the inter communication system and the VRC 120 vehicular transceiver radio with embedded auxiliary receivers
The tank is fitted with the Amcoram LWS-2 laser warning system, with threat warning display installed at the commander’s station. This links to the Israel Military Industries POMALS (pedestal-operated multi-ammunition launching system) decoy launcher. One launcher is fitted on either side of the tank, which can launch smoke grenades and decoys.
Laser Warning Systems (LWS)
Elbit Systems’ Laser Warning System (E-LAWS) and Threat Detection System (TDS) detect, categorize and pinpoint laser sources such as rangefinders, designators, beam riders, infrared illuminators and trainers. In addition to laser sources, the Multi Threat Detection System (MTDS) detects, categorizes and pinpoints radar/RF sources. All of these systems allow for training within the vehicle and include built-in test. Source elbitsystems.com
A Merkava 4 has also been fitted with the Rafael Trophy Active Protection System.
Rafael Trophy Active Protection System
Trophy provides 360° coverage against anti-tank rockets, anti-tank missiles and tank HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank) rounds. Once Trophy has detected a threat, it is tracked and classified and the optimal intercept point is computed, prior to launching a countermeasure.
Sensors include radar with four antennas placed around the vehicle. The system development was completed in April 2007 and the IDF has approved production for fitting on new Merkava tanks.
The Trophy system entered low-rate initial production (LRIP) in June 2008 and is planned to achieve initial operating capability in late 2009.
The system was successfully tested on the tank by the Israel Defence Force in December 2010. The Trophy system deployed on a Merkava 4 MBT defended an anti-tank missile fired by a gunman near the Gaza Strip security fence in March 2011.
GD 883 V-12 diesel engine
The Merkava 4 is powered by a V-12 diesel engine rated at 1,500hp. The engine compartment and one fuel tank are at the front of the tank and two fuel tanks are at the back. The new engine represents a 25% increase in power compared to the 1,200hp powerpack installed on the Merkava 3.
General Dynamics GD883 (MT 883 Ka-500)
The GD883 diesel engine, paired with Renk RK325 automatic transmission, comprises the Merkava Mk4 powerpack. Produced under cooperation between MTU and general Dynamics Land Systems, this liquid cooled, direct injection engine is considered the most powerful of its kind. It was designed as an alternative to the gas turbines, currently used in the M-1 family of tanks. The US-German engine develops 1500hp power, and with the utilization of the specially designed automatic transmission, it offers the best power/weight ratio for heavy tracked vehicles. The electronically controlled transmission has five forward gears, also provides steering and braking functions. Source defense-update.com
|Engine model||MT 883 Ka-500|
|Rated power max.||kW (bhp)||1100 (1500)|
|Dimensions and masses|
|Length (L)||mm (in)||1488 (58,6)|
|Width||mm (in)||972 (38,3)|
|Height (H)||mm (in)||742 (29,2)|
|Mass (dry)||kg (lbs)||1800 (3968)|
|Engine main data|
|Bore/Stroke||mm (in)||144/140 (5,7/5,5)|
|Displacement, total||l (cu in)||27,4 (1672)|
The German company MTU manufactures the engine components and the GD 883 engine is manufactured under licensed production by General Dynamics Land Systems in the USA. The engine is transferred to Israel for installation and integration with the automatic transmission and with the engine computer control system. The tank has automatic five-gear transmission rather than four gears as in the Merkava 3. The transmission system is manufactured by Renk. The single position rotary shock absorbers are installed externally.
RK 325 powershift transmission
The RK 325 transmission is intended for front mounting in an L-configuration in combat tanks and related families of vehicles. It guarantees the ultimate mobility, performance, and acceleration of the vehicle on any terrain. The electronic, automatic gearshift system and modern brake system ensure optimal driving characteristics. The transmission is the right choice for sophisticated, pioneering combat tanks.
The redesign of the hull around the installation of the new powerpack has provided improved frontal armour protection and improvement to the driver’s field of view. For improved reverse driving the driver uses a camera.
A new feature of the tank is that the fitted modular special armour covers the turret. The tank is protected against a range of threats, including air-launched precision-guided missiles and advanced and top-attack anti-tank weapons. Automatic fire detection and suppression has been installed. The underside of the hull has been fitted with additional armour protection against mines.
The driver and crew compartments are equipped with heating and cooling air conditioning and a Shalon Chemical Industries combined individual and overpressure protection systems against contamination by NBC warfare.
|TYPE||Main battle tank|
|CREW||4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)|
|LENGTH||7.60 m (hull), 9.04 m (gun forward)|
|WIDTH||3.72 m (without skirts)|
|HEIGHT||2.66 m (turret roof)|
|GROUND CLEARANCE||0.45 m|
|WEIGHT||65 t combat load|
|WHEELBASE||Tracks, 6 roadwheels, sprocket front, idler rear|
|ENGINE||MTU-883 V12 diesel, 1.500 hp|
|POWER RATIO||23.1 hp/t|
|TRANSMISSION||4 forward, 1 reverse|
|SPEED||64 km/h on road|
|RANGE||500 km on road|
|SMOKE||2×6 smoke grenade dischargers|
7.62mm coaxial machine gun
7.62mm roof machine gun
12.7mm roof machine gun
Main material source army-technology.com
Revised Jul 30, 2018
Updated Apr 09, 2019