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Israeli-made Merkava IVM Windbreaker one of the most protected tank in the world

The latest generation of Israeli-made Merkava IV with Rafael Trophy APS (Active Protection System) nicknamed Merkava Mark IVM Windbreaker, is one of the most protected Main Battle Tank (MBT) in the world. Following the series of tests of the Trophy system, the IDF Ground Forces Command declared the Trophy operational in August 2009 and first MBT Merkava 4 equipped with the Trophy APS enters in service with the Israeli Army in 2010.

Israeli made Mark IVM Windbreaker one of the most protected main battle tank in the world IDF 925 001
Latest generation of Israeli-made Mark IVM Windbreaker Main Battle Tank (MBT) at Israeli army military exercise, January 28, 2018 (Picture source Israeli MoD)

On March 1, 2011, stationed near the Gaza border, a Merkava MK IV equipped with the Trophy system foiled a missile attack aimed toward it and became the first operational success of the Trophy active defense system. On July 14, 2014, the Trophy system successfully intercepted a 9M133 Kornet anti-tank missile fired from Gaza at an IDF tank. Since the beginning of the Israeli Operation Protective Edge to July 20, 2014, at least four Israeli tanks of senior commanders were protected by the Trophy system in the Gaza Strip.

The first generation of Merkava IV fitted with the Trophy APS has only one Elta EL/M-2133[1] F/G band fire-control radar with four flat-panel antennas (sensors) mounted on each side at the front of the turret. Sensors include radar with four antennas placed around the vehicle. Trophy provides 360° coverage against anti-tank rockets, anti-tank missiles and tank HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank) rounds. Once Trophy has detected a threat, it is tracked and classified and the optimal intercept point is computed, prior to launching a countermeasure.

According to our analysis about the latest generation of Trophy APS mounted on Merkava IV MBT, there is now four sensors, one on each side at the front of the turret, and two at the rear to increase detection of threats from the back of the tank.

Trophy protects Merkava IV from a wide variety of threats ranging from rockets, ATGMs and platform-fired High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds. Trophy offers 360° protection in azimuth, as well as extensive elevation coverage, while maintaining a pre-defined safety zone for friendly troops on the ground. The neutralization process is initiated only if the threat is about to hit the vehicle.

Israeli made Mark IVM Windbreaker one of the most protected main battle tank in the world IDF 925 002

The Merkava IV is also equipped with the Amcoram LWS-2 laser warning system, with threat warning display installed at the commander’s station. This links to the Israel Military Industries POMALS (pedestal-operated multi-ammunition launching system) decoy launcher. One launcher is fitted on either side of the tank, which can launch smoke grenades and decoys.

The Merkava Mk 4 uses a modular ballistic protection and is claimed to provide more effective protection against modern threats involving both protection efficiency and coverage area. The ballistic protection also 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.

Main armament of the Merkava Mark IVM Windbreaker consists of one 120 mm smoothbore gun, developed by Israel Military Industries (IMI). It can fire various 120 mm munitions, including all standard NATO munitions. It can also fire LAHAT anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. The LAHAT missile has a range of up to 8,000 m (5.0 mi) when launched from a ground platform, and up to 13,000 m (8.1 mi) when deployed from high elevation. It has effective penetration of up to 800 mm of RHA (Rolled homogeneous) armor steel with its tandem warhead to deal with add-on reactive armor.

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. A 12.7mm heavy machine gun is mounted at the front center of the turret and just above the barrel.


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