The army is hoping its new Merkava IV tank, which will enter service in 2020, will prove to be a game-changing weapon in a future conflict.
The tank, called the Barak, is meant to be a technological leap forward for the ground forces and put them on a technological par with the air force and navy. The army hopes this will increase soldiers’ motivation to join the Armored Corps.
Though new recruits have shown increased interest in the corps over the past year, senior officers still feel it isn’t attractive enough. One particularly worrying incident occurred in April, when 86 recruits assigned to the corps refused to leave the recruitment base, demanding that they be given a different assignment instead.
The army believes that tank battles of the kind it fought in the 1970s and 1980s are highly unlikely to recur, since many countries in the region no longer seem interested in fighting full-scale wars with Israel. Instead, tank crews will likely be facing small guerrilla forces that will lay ambushes or mount localized attacks. The new tank was designed with this in mind.
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The tank will include a battle computer that will process data received from sensors mounted on it, give the soldiers a real-time picture of the situation and even propose a plan of action for dealing with it. The computer will also identify enemy forces and aim the tank gun automatically.
Tank commanders will have a special helmet, made by the Israeli company Elbit, that will enable them to see what’s happening throughout the tank and also receive all the data processed by the tank’s computer. The helmet is similar to one already in use among pilots.
The Barak will also be networked, enabling tanks in the field to synchronize their moves better – with each other, with the air force and with other ground forces.