Development of the Merkava Mk 4 commenced in the early 1990s and its existence was first revealed in 2002. First production Merkava Mk 4 MBTs have been delivered to the Israel Defence Force (IDF) and the first battalion was fully operational in 2004. The Merkava IV represents the third evolution of the Merkava main battle tank family. The Merkava Mk 4 will start to replace the older US supplied upgraded General Dynamics Land Systems M60A1 series MBTs. The first battalion of Merkava Mk 4 tanks entered service with the Israel Defence Forces in 2004. 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.
Variants : Merkava 4 LIC: The Merkava is equipped with a turret 12.7 mm caliber coaxial machine gun which enables the crew to lay down fairly heavy cover fire without the use of the main gun, which is relatively ineffective against individual enemy combatants. The most sensitive areas of a tank, its optics, exhaust ports and ventilators, are all protected by a newly-developed high-strength metal mesh. Rubber whip pole-markers with LED tips and a driver's rear-facing camera have been installed to improve navigation and maneuverability in an urban environment by day or by night.
Main armament is a 120 mm smoothbore gun developed by Israel Military Industries that is a further development of that installed in the Merkava Mk 3. The Merkava Mk4 can fire a full range of 120mm ammunition types, including 120mm APFSDS-FS (kinetic) rounds, and their training derivatives, HEAT (hollow-charge) types and anti-personnel/anti-material ammunitions. Secondary armament consists of a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, 7.62 mm machine gun mounted on the right side of the turret roof and an internally mounted 60 mm breech-loaded mortar.The roof-mounted 7.62 mm machine gun can be aimed and fired by the commander from within the turret under complete armour protection and can be traversed through a full 360º.
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. The turret is mounted to tha back side of the hull. Around the lower part of the turret rear are chains that hang down vertically to help detonate any anti-tank devices with an High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead before they impact the main armour of the Merkava Mk. 4. In addition, the ballistic protection includes roof protection that provides a capability against overhead attacks. As there is only one roof hatch it is easier to protect the roof with a new passive armour system.
The fighting compartment and turret occupies the rear of the vehicle, with an entrance hatch being provided in the hull rear. As with late production Merkava Mk 3s, the new Mk 4 turret has an elliptical shape to its front and sides with a stowage basket at the rear. In earlier versions of the Merkava there was a roof hatch for the commander (right) and loader (left), but the latest Mk 4 only has a roof hatch for the commander. In the Merkava Mk 4 the ballistic protection is modular and is claimed to provide more effective protection against modern threats involving both protection efficiency and coverage area.Installation of the new 1,500 hp powerpack has allowed for a redesign of the hull of the Merkava Mk 4 that has improved frontal protection. The driver's field of view has also been improved as there is no longer a bulge to the right side of the hull. Merkava IV is fitted with a 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 latest generation of Merkava IV is now equipped with the Trophy active protection system developed by the Isreali Company Rafael. The Trophy is a situational awareness and active protection hard kill system that operates in three major stages: Threat detection and threat tracking followed by hard kill countermeasure (Multiple Explosive Formed Penetrators – MEFP) activation and threat neutralization. The neutralization process takes place only if the threat is about to hit the platform. The Trophy active protection system creates a hemispheric protected zone around the vehicle where incoming threats are intercepted and defeated. The Trophy system is able to intercept any incoming HEAT threat, including RPG rockets at a range of 10 – 30 meters from the protected platform. The Trophy was declared operational by the IDF in August 2009 and is currently in full production. Merkava 4 tanks integrated with Trophy active protection systems are presently being deployed in combat areas along Israel's borders.
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. The Mk 4 Merkava has six rubber-tyred roadwheels either side with the drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear and four track-return rollers. Each roadwheel is suspended by a separate helical spring with suspension arms for two roadwheels, each caged in a housing.
Merkava 4 is equipped with a modern fire control and sighting system which includes computerized ballistic calculations and compensations, a dual axes stabilized gunner sight and a dual axis stabilized commander panoramic sight, both equipped with an advanced FLIR and TV channels for day and night operation. The Merkava IV is also fitted with Battle Management System (BMS) designed by Elbit Systems' ElOp - the system is providing fast communication networking between the commander and subordinate units, and enables the crew to plan missions, navigate and continuously update their situation awareness. The system also enables Commander's BMC tactical display system as used in the Merkava Mk4recording and debriefing the operation, by utilizing the tank's digital recorder.
120 mm rifled gun, three 7,62 mm machine gun, one 12,7 mm machine gun, one mortar 60 mm, 12 smoke discharger.
Firing gun comuter control system, NBC
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