The Israeli army is introducing a new wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) into its ground forces, to replace the outdated M-113.
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The Israel Defense Forces possesses thousands of M113s, which served the army as far back as the Yom Kippur War in 1973. One such APC was involved in one of the toughest incidents of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza two years ago, when an RPG killed seven Golani soldiers in an M113 that had broken down in the field. In the wake of the incident, the IDF began reviewing vehicles for its ground forces.
The new APC, known as Eitan, travels on eight wheels and possesses an active protective system against rockets and missiles. Defense officials plan to replace the M113 with the Eitan. The army also has hundreds of another APC, called the Namer, which is based on a Merkava tank.
The head of the Defense Ministry's tank program, Gen. Baruch Mazliah, said no decision has been made regarding the new APC, which has just begun its experimental stage with a prototype. He told reporters that hundreds of the new APC are to join the Namer, but ministry officials do not know where it will be produced or assembled. He said he expected it to become operational in the coming years.
"Dozens can be made annually, and the pace depends on the budge," he said. Gen. Mazliah refused to disclose the cost of the Eitan.
Weapons, machine guns and cannons can be added to the APC on wheels. Gen. Mazliah said the new APC stands up "well to roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices." He said the wheels do not have the same level of protection and survival as the Namer, "although we tried our best on the subject of protection, including an active protection system."
He added, "The main advantages of the vehicle are speed and maneuverability – it can travel on regular roads at speeds of 90 kph."