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Defence & Security News - Israel

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 11:19 AM
Israeli army is planning to sell second-hands Merkava main battle tanks and F-16 fighter aircraft.
Israel's military is planning to hold a bargain basement sale of aircraft, tanks and navy missile ships that are being made redundant under a revolutionary, multiyear program to restructure the Jewish state's armed forces to meet new challenges.

And if there are no takers for the weapons systems, including old-model Israeli-built Merkava main battle tanks and U.S. Lockheed Martin F-16 combat jets, they may be sold as scrap metal.

The program -- tagged "Teuza," Hebrew for boldness -- that was developed by the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, "will turn bases into sales lots for tanks, armored personnel carriers, warships, combat flight equipment, vehicle logistics accessories, cannons and air force ballistic systems," military writer Yoav Zitun reported on Ynet, the online outlet for the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

The program involves retiring a wide range of aging equipment that has no place in the smaller, more agile high-tech military Israel's generals believe is needed now that the Jewish state's traditional Arab foes are no longer deemed to pose a conventional threat as they did in 1967 and 1973.

Early model Merkava Mark 1 battle tanks, assembled by state-owned Israel Military Industries and which entered service in 1979, are expected to be up for sale as well.

The Military Balance 2012, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, says Israel, which these days relies on the more advanced Merkava Mk IV, currently has an estimated 440 Merkava Mk 1s and 290 Merkava MkIIs in storage.

It's expected the army will finally relinquish its remaining M60 Patton tanks built by Chrysler and the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant from 1966 to 1987.

Israel first acquired the M60A1 models in 1971. These saw action on the Golan and Sinai fronts against Syrian and Egyptian armor in the 1973 Middle East war.

They played a vital role in preventing the Syrians from recapturing the strategic Golan Heights captured by Israel in 1967.

Israel up-armored the M60 and dubbed that the Magach. The IISS says the Israeli army has 111 Magach-7s and 711 M60A1/A3 models in mothballs.

Ynet said the main buyers are likely to be Latin American, Asian or African militaries, which still keep in service aging systems like these.

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