“For when you absolutely must have the biggest tank on the battlefield. With much greater armor and firepower, it easily dispatches smaller tanks while absorbing tremendous punishment. However it has a very high population cost and the slow rate of fire can cause it to be bogged down by overwhelming odds.”
During the mid-1960s, Israel began researching the possibility of developing and manufacturing a domestically designed tank. The Israeli tank was primarily designed around combat experiences gained during the Yom Kippur War, resulting in heavy emphasis being put on crew survivability. By 1974, first prototypes of the new “Merkava” tank were constructed and put through initial testing. After nearly a decade of development, the Merkava Mk.1 was adopted for service by the IDF in December 1979.the Mk.2 was first introduced in April 1983, included from the factory all the improvements learned during the Lebanon war. Emphasis was put on urban warfare and low-intensity conflicts, but general specifications remained unchanged. The new mortar was now completely internal and can fire remotely to avoid exposure of any crew member to small arms fire in a reduced environment. The new, rear part of the turret included an anti-rocket (mostly RPGs) netting and recently discovered “shot traps” were fixed. Protection was made of spaced, rolled homogeneous armor. The transmission was now fully automatic, including a more efficient regime depending on the situation and an increased fuel capacity. The fire control systems (FCS) were given attention, with a general upgrade including meteorological sensors, crosswind analyzers, which all fed the central FCS computer. The electronic sights were also upgraded, with a more finely tuned image amplification and better thermographic optics. The Mk. 2 production was more extensive (580), and stopped in 1989. However, the series was upgraded in several steps and remains in service today.
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