Observations from Ukraine give Israeli tank designers ‘interesting ideas’
The IDF General Staff has set up a team to explore if there are operational lessons to be learned for Israel from the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War, while work continues to develop the new Merkava Mk 5 MBT.
One conclusion is already supported by hard evidence: Russian tanks lag far behind the Israeli Merkava in almost all relevant aspects.
The fighting in Ukraine highlighted fundamental weaknesses of Russian armour in its inability to protect against or defeat ATGMs of various types, combined with poor communications and a failure to operate in a combined arms mission.
In addition, Russian armoured formations have proved themselves to be incapable of functioning effectively when C2 systems are jammed or inoperable.
While the IDF insists that none of these issues arise with the in-service Merkava Mk 4, it has still decided to proceed with a new upgrade with extra capabilities.
While the new upgraded tank is still officially called Merkava Mk 4, the soldiers and engineers in charge of the upgrades call the new version Merkava Mk 5 or ‘Barak’ (lightning).
Shephard understands that the first upgraded MBT will go into service in mid-2023 and one source close to the programme said that the war in Ukraine has given the design team ‘some interesting ideas’.
The IDF wants Barak to be capable of performing multiple missions with a short sensor-to-shooter cycle in fast-evolving combat scenarios where armoured vehicles would be priority targets for the enemy.
According to sources in the IDF, the Merkava Mk 5 will feature EW devices, advanced multi-domain data processing and computing, and new and advanced sensors that will allow independent acquisition and engagement of targets such as enemy ATGM teams.
It has also emerged that the MBT will be equipped with an improved Trophy APS from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The tank commander will wear a new type of helmet from Elbit Systems (called Iron Vision) that prioritises data gathered by the tank’s sensors and other sensors in the battlefield.
Some of the new systems resemble elements of the combat suite being developed by Israel Aerospace Industries for the Carmel armoured fighting vehicle, while others will be created specifically for the Merkava Mk 5.
More from Land Warfare
The Royal Artillery’s Light Fires Platform has been put forward as a potential replacement for the towed 105mm L118 Light Gun.
As the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine edges closer, the resolve of Western countries has been tested in the face of entrenched positions, rising costs, political divisions and the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.
The RBS 70 was developed in the 1970s to meet the Swedish Army’s requirement for a low-cost, easy-to-use MANPADS which could function in extreme climatic conditions. In 2011, Saab unveiled the RBS 70 Next Generation (NG), the first weapon of its type to employ laser beam-riding guidance.