Eitan APC series production set to begin
Series production of the Eitan 8x8 wheeled armoured personnel carrier (APC) is to start soon for the Israeli MoD.
According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the MoD, the vehicle (pictured) is the most advanced 8x8 APC in operational use. The Eitan programme received official approval in 2019 when the final configuration was confirmed, and prototypes are now undergoing tests in various severe conditions by the Nahal infantry brigade of the IDF.
The MoD is also exploring the option of offering Eitan for sale overseas. Brig Gen Guy Paglin, head of the MoD’s Merkava and Armored Vehicles Directorate, told Shephard that 'there is export potential' for the APC, once the IDF ground forces are equipped with enough Eitans.
Battle experience - particularly in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza (July-August 2014) - heightened the IDF’s awareness that it needed an improved 8x8 APC. Only a few Namer heavy APCs were available for Operation Protective Edge, so the IDF relied largely on its fleet of older M113 vehicles. Sandbags were placed on the M113s to increase the level of protection.
According to the IDF, the Eitan can travel at 88.5km/h, giving it a major advantage when forces have to be transferred from one battle area to the other. Paglin added that 'it will be possible' to airlift the APC, although it is not designed specifically for this scenario.
The Eitan is powered by a 750hp heavy fuel engine. Four of the eight wheels are steerable, enabling the vehicle to take tight turns and manoeuvre offroad or narrow urban areas.
The APC is 7.92m long and 3.05m wide. It weighs 27.21 tonnes, including the ballistic armour and active armour systems. The prototypes are equipped with sensors to provide real-time situational awareness for the three-man crew.
Prototypes used in testing carry one remotely operated weapon station, but production models will integrate an unmanned overhead turret armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and an ATK 30mm automatic cannon. An indirect fire capability includes an integrated 60mm mortar with high-explosive rounds, plus illumination and smoke effects.
Paglin said that the 30mm cannon has an elevation of 70° that offers advantages in urban warfare.
'This elevation allows the gunner to deal with high-placed targets like enemy soldiers using all types of anti-tank weapons, which are very popular among terror organisations,' he explained.
In addition to the 30mm cannon and auxiliary systems, once the Eitan is fielded in great numbers 'other systems may be attached to the turret', Paglin added. 'It always happens after a combat platform is introduced into service: new operational demands are being met with new systems.'
The basic turreted Eitan platform is likely to be used for command and scout roles, as well as for transporting infantry on the battlefield. A turretless variant will be used as a weapons carrier or for combat engineering, recovery and casualty evacuation.
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