Hundreds of mark II tanks, which are going out of service in favor of the mark IV tanks, won’t turn into wrecks so fast. The main gun and the turret were removed and the vehicle will turn into heavy and air conditioned armoured personnel carrier. The prototype, which was successfully experimented, has also a new air conditioning system. It would be possible to evacuate injured soldiers in a safer way.
A new horizon in the attempts of the ministry of defense to armour the military vehicles: About a year after seven Golani soldiers were killed during operation Protective Edge from an anti-tank missile hit in a Bardelas armoured personnel carrier in Gaza strip, IDF developed a solution that may solve at least a part of the problem. It’s a renewed armoured vehicle that was operationally experimented in the first time during a vast practice of the 36th division of the 7th brigade in the Jordan Valley a few months ago.
It’s the Merkava tank mark II that in a similar way, tens like it went out of use from the brigade and were replaced by the advanced Merkava mark IV tanks. But instead of throwing it to the wreck yard or trying to sell it as iron or to foreign armies, one of the tanks, a prototype, was moved to the maintenance centers in Tel Hashomer and got there a special treatment: The main gun, the turret and the cabin were the shells were kept were removed. The result: A heavy troops-carrier, a lot faster and armoured than the smaller Bardelas armoured personnel carriers which were called Zeldas. The armoured personnel carrier gives us protection, good passability and speed.
The new prototype was experimented for the first time during the division practice as an armored vehicle for the command and control team of the brigade commander. The comments from the field regarding the new vehicle, that its concept reminds the old Achzarit armoured personnel carriers, were positive, and even the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-general Gadi Eizenkot and his deputy Major-general Yair Golan, which came for the practice, were impressed. IDF is intended to manufacture more similar vehicles from the Merkava mark II tanks, which hundreds of it got out of use. However, the IDF states that the first stage will be for certain maneuvering forces, as maintenance, medical and evacuation forces.
Merkava mark II tanks, despite its passive protection, proved itself during operation Protective Edge and didn’t get significant hits from the advanced anti-tank missiles of the Hamas. During the operation there was a similar attempt for this, as a part of many IDF improvisations during the war, to remove the upper part of the old Magach tanks, but this attempt wasn’t successful.
Instead of scraping the tanks, IDF changed its purpose, including improvement of the human factors in the tank together with consulting with soldiers that came to us and told what’s missing and what they need. Nowadays IDF developed a series of armoured personnel carriers (APCs), which will allow to evacuate injured soldiers in a safer way. Built with a new floor, we expanded the inner halls in the soldiers cabin and we added a new air conditioning system, with a zero cost based on parts that already exist in the army.
A new system that was successfully experimented in the IDF is Trophy, that is intended to give the forces in the assembly areas a sufficient warning regarding mortar shell shooting. It’s a mobile mid-size radar that can be carried on a Hammer or armoured personnel carrier, and it identifies quickly launching of short-range high-trajectory fire up to a few kilometers. During operation Protective Edge, in Gaza envelope, more Israelis were killed due to Hamas’s mortar shells shooting than due to mid or long range rockets.