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Israeli Army Takes Delivery of 5th Generation Merkava Barak Main Battle Tanks.

| 2023

On September 19, 2023, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officially introduced the Merkava Barak, Israel's 5th generation main battle tank. The first units have been delivered to the 52nd Armored Battalion of the 401st Brigade, following five years of development.
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New Israeli Merkava Main Battle Tank (Picture source: Israel MoD)

Introducing the new 5th generation Merkava, nicknamed Barak, which has just been delivered to the Israeli army within the 52nd Armored Battalion. The Merkava is Israel's iconic tank, and the primary idea behind this family of tanks is the protection of its crew. The unveiling of a new version is always a small event. Let's take a look at what we know about this new Main Battle Tank.

The Barak tank is the result of a collaborative effort involving the Armored Vehicles Directorate of the Defense Ministry, the IDF's Ground Forces, and the Armored Corps, as well as several Israeli defense companies such as Elbit Systems, Rafael, and Israel Aerospace Industries' Elta subsidiary. The tank is equipped with sensors, providing a "wide infrastructure of reliable sensors" for target detection. These sensors are part of an integrated system that allows for real-time sharing of intelligence information between the tank and other military units, heralding what the Israeli Ministry calls "a real revolution on the battlefield."

Drawing on the expertise gained from the creation, refinement, and manufacturing of its predecessors—Merkava Mk 1, Mk 2, and Mk 3 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs)—Israel has unveiled the enhanced Merkava Mk 4. The Merkava 5 represents a further upgrade of the Merkava IV, incorporating advancements in armor protection and digital warfare capabilities.

In terms of design, the Merkava V closely mirrors its predecessor, the Merkava IV. The layout features the driver's seat situated on the hull's left side, the turret positioned at the hull's rear, and the engine located at the front. The tank is operated by a four-member crew, which includes a driver, commander, gunner, and loader.

When it comes to firepower, the Merkava V retains the same armament configuration as the Merkava IV. It is equipped with a 120mm smooth-bore cannon, developed by Israel Military Industries, capable of firing high-penetration rounds and guided munitions up to a distance of 4,000 meters. Additional weaponry includes a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, another 7.62 mm machine gun mounted on the turret's right side, and an internally housed 60 mm breech-loaded mortar.

One of the features of the Barak tank is the high-tech helmet developed by Elbit Systems, dubbed IronVision. Similar to a fighter jet pilot's helmet, IronVision provides the tank commander with a 360-degree view of the battlefield and displays relevant information in real time. The helmet employs artificial intelligence capabilities to assist in target identification and engagement.

The Barak tank is also equipped with an advanced missile defense system called Windbreaker, developed by Rafael. This system is capable of detecting incoming missiles and causing them to detonate away from the tank. The tank's firepower has also been improved. The fire control system, also developed by Elbit, allows for "accurate attacks while idle and while moving," both during the day and at night.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant emphasized the symbolic timing of the tank's unveiling, as Israel marks 50 years since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He stated that the Barak tank represents "an extraordinary leap forward" in the capabilities of the Armored Corps and will "guarantee the IDF’s qualitative advantage every time, in defense and attack."

The Merkava has been the IDF’s main battle tank since the 1980s, and the Barak is expected to eventually replace the older Merkava models, solidifying its role as the main battle tank for the IDF's Armored Corps.


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