Tank Merkava Mk 4 Technical Specifications. The weight. Dimensions

Tank Merkava Mk 4

The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1970, and entered official service in 1978. Four main variants of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War. The name "Merkava" was derived from the IDF's initial development program name.

Tank Merkava Mk 4M - video

Design criteria include rapid repair of battle damage, survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance. Following the model of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, the turret assembly is located closer to the rear than in most main battle tanks. With the engine in front, this layout is intended to grant additional protection against a frontal attack, so as to absorb some of the force of incoming shells, especially for the personnel in the main hull, such as the driver. It also creates more space in the rear of the tank that allows increased storage capacity and a rear entrance to the main crew compartment allowing easy access under enemy fire. This allows the tank to be used as a platform for medical disembarkation, a forward command and control station, and an infantry fighting vehicle. The rear entrance's clamshell-style doors provide overhead protection when off- and on-loading cargo and personnel.

It was reportedly decided shortly before the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon War that the Merkava line would be discontinued within four years.[8] However, on November 7, 2006, Haaretz reported that an Israeli General staff assessment had ruled of the Merkava Mark IV that "if properly deployed, the tank can provide its crew with better protection than in the past", and deferred the decision on discontinuing the line. On August 16, 2013, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announced the decision to resume production of the Merkava main battle tank for the IDF Armored Corps.

Tank Merkava Mk 4


In 1965, Israel's military establishment began research and development on a domestically produced tank, the "Sabra" (not to be confused with the later model of the same name now in service). Initially, Britain and Israel collaborated to adapt the United Kingdom's Chieftain tank that had entered British Army service in 1966. However, in 1969, Britain decided not to sell the tank to Israel for political reasons.

Israel Tal, who was serving as a brigade commander after the Suez Crisis, restarted plans to produce an Israeli-made tank, drawing on lessons from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Israeli forces were outnumbered by those of the Middle East's Arab nations.

By 1974, initial designs were completed and prototypes were built. After a brief set of trials, work began to retool the Tel HaShomer ordnance depot for full-time development and construction. After the new facilities were completed, the Merkava was announced to the public in the International Defense Review periodical. The first official images of the tank were then released to the American periodical Armed Forces Journal on May 4, 1977. The IDF officially adopted the tank in December 1978. The first Merkava Mk. 1 tanks were supplied to the IDF in April 1979, nearly nine years after the decision to produce the Merkava Mk. 1 tank was taken.

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Merkava Mk 4M, 2016


General characteristics


The Merkava Mark I and II were armed with a 105 mm M68 gun. The Mark III, Mark III Dor Dalet BAZ kassag, and the Mark IV are armed with an IMI 120 mm smoothbore gun which can fire all versions of western 120 mm smooth bore tank ammunition.

Each model of the Merkava has two roof mounted 7.62 mm machine guns for use by the commander and loader and another mounted co-axially with the main gun. A 60 mm mortar is also fitted for firing smoke rounds or suppressing dug-in infantry anti-tank teams.

All Merkava tanks are fitted with a remote-controlled M2 Browning .50 heavy machine gun, aligned with the main gun and controlled from within the turret. The .50 machine gun has proven to be useful and effective in asymmetric warfare.


The tank's 1,500 horsepower turbocharged diesel engine was designed by MTU and is manufactured under license by L-3 Communication Combat Propulsion Systems (formerly General Dynamics). The Mark IV's top road speed is 64 km/h.


The Merkava is protected by an Israeli-developed composite armor. Advanced models include modular armor design which enables ordnance crews to replace only the damaged part. Additional sloped armor modules can be installed on the turret for additional protection. Automative and mechanical systems serve as a second layer of defense to the crew, in case the main armor is penetrated. Ammunition is stored in fireproof canisters for more protection and to reduce the risk of exploding ammo when hit.

The Merkava Mk 4M is equipped with the Trophy active protection system, called "Windbreaker" (מעיל רוח) in Hebrew. The Trophy APS is an Israeli-developed battle proven hard-kill defense system.

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Merkava Mark IV

The Mark IV is the most recent variant of the Merkava tank that has been in development since 1999 and production since 2004. The upgrade's development was announced in an October 1999 edition of the Bamachaneh ("At the Camp") military publication. However, the Merkava Mark III remained in production until 2003. The first Merkava IVs were in production in limited numbers by the end of 2004.

When ammunition is unloaded the tank can carry up to 8 dismounted soldiers or 3 stretchers. Troops enter and leave the vehicle through the rear hatch.

Removable modular armor, from the Merkava Mark IIID, is used on all sides, including the top and a V-shaped belly armor pack for the underside. This modular system is designed to allow for damaged tanks to be rapidly repaired and returned to the field. Because rear armor is thinner, chains with iron balls are attached in order to detonate projectiles before they hit the main armored hull.

It is the first contemporary tank with no loaders hatch in the turret roof, because any aperture in the turret roof increases risk of penetration by ATGMs.

Tank rounds are stored in individual fire-proof canisters, which reduce the chance of cookoffs in a fire inside the tank. The turret is electrically-powered (hydraulic turrets use flammable liquid that ignites if the turret is penetrated) and "dry": no active rounds are stored in it.

Some features, such as hull shaping, exterior non-reflective paints (radar cross-section reduction), and shielding for engine heat plumes mixing with air particles (reduced infrared signature) to confuse enemy thermal imagers, were carried over from the IAI Lavi program of the Israeli Air Force to make the tank harder to spot by heat sensors and radar.

The Mark IV includes the larger 120 mm main gun of the previous versions, but can fire a wider variety of ammunition, including HEAT and sabot rounds like the APFSDS kinetic energy penetrator, using an electrical semi-automatic revolving magazine for 10 rounds. It also includes a much larger 12.7 mm machine gun for anti-vehicle operations (most commonly used against technicals).

Tank Merkava Mk 4

The Mark IV has the Israeli-designed "TSAWS (Tracks, Springs, and Wheels System)" caterpillar track system, called "Mazkom" (Hebrew: מערכת זחלים קפיצים ומרכובים, מזקו"ם‎) by troops. This system is designed to reduce track-shedding under the harsh basalt rock conditions of Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

The model has a new fire-control system, the El-Op Knight Mark 4. The computer-controlled fire control system can acquire and lock onto moving targets, even airborne helicopters, while the tank itself is on the move. It includes line-of-sight stabilisation in two axes, a second-generation television sight and automatic thermal target tracker, a laser range finder, an improved thermal night vision system and a dynamic cant angle indicator. An Amcoram LWS-2 laser warning receiver notifies the crew of threats like laser-guided anti-tank missiles, which can fire smoke grenade launchers to obscure the tank from the laser beam. Electromagnetic warning against radar illumination is also installed.

The tank carries the Israeli Elbit Systems BMS (Battle Management System; Hebrew: צי"ד), a centralised system that takes data from tracked units and UAVs in theater, displays it on color screens, and distributes it in encrypted form to all other units equipped with BMS in a given theater.

The Merkava IV has been designed for rapid repair and fast replacement of damaged armour, with modular armour that can be easily removed and replaced. It is also designed to be cost-effective in production and maintenance; its cost is lower than that of a number of other tanks used by Western armies. The engine can be replaced in field conditions within 30 minutes.

The tank has a high performance air conditioning system and can even be fitted with a toilet for long duration missions.

Tank Merkava Mk 4

 Merkava Mark IVm Windbreaker, fitted with Trophy active protection system, during Operation Protective Edge


Mark IVm Windbreaker

The Merkava Mark IVm Windbreaker is a Merkava Mark IV equipped with the Trophy active protection system (APS), designated "Meil Ruach" (Hebrew: מעיל רוח‎; "Windbreaker" or "Wind Coat"). The serial production of Mark IVm tanks started in 2009 and the first whole brigade of Mark IVms was declared operational in 2011. The Trophy APS successfully intercepted rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles, including 9M133 Kornets, fired by Hamas before and during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Not a single Merkava tank was lost in combat operations in 2008 and 2014—despite the war in 2014 being a costly one for the Israeli Defense Forces. The system also notifies the tanks crew of the location that the projectile came from, allowing them to fire back quickly. It can transmit the coordinates to nearby ground and air units through the Tzayad battlefield management system. All friendly units in the theater are instantly apprised of the enemy’s position making escape and evasion difficult.

Iron Vision helmet-mounted display system

In mid-2017, the IDF will begin trials of Elbit's Iron Vision, the world's first helmet-mounted display for tanks. Israel's Elbit, which developed the helmet-mounted display system for the F-35, plans Iron Vision to use a number of externally mounted cameras to project the 360° view of a tank's surroundings onto the helmet-mounted display of its crew members. This allows the crew members to stay inside the tank, without having to open the hatches to see outside.

Combat history

2006 Lebanon War

During the 2006 Lebanon War, five Merkava tanks were destroyed. Only the minority of the tanks used during the war were Merkava Mark IVs, as by 2006 they had still only entered service in limited numbers. Hezbollah fired over 1,000 anti-tank missiles during the conflict against both tanks and dismounted infantry. Some 45 percent of all tanks and armoured vehicles hit with antitank missiles during the conflict suffered some form of armour penetration. In total, 15 tank crewmen were killed by these ATGM penetrations. The penetrations were caused by tandem warhead missiles. Hezbollah weaponry was believed to include advanced Russian RPG-29 'Vampir', AT-5 'Konkurs', AT-13 'Metis-M', and laser-guided AT-14 'Kornet' HEAT missiles. The IDF reported finding the state-of-the-art Kornet ATGMs on Hezbollah positions in the village of Ghandouriyeh. Several months after the cease-fire, reports have provided detailed photographic evidence that Kornet ATGMs were indeed both in possession of, and used by, Hezbollah in this area. Another Merkava IV tank crewman was killed when a tank ran over an improvised explosive device (IED). This tank had additional V-shaped underside armor, limiting casualties to just one of the seven personnel (four crewmen and three infantrymen) on board. In total, five Merkava tanks (two Merkava IIs, one Merkava III, and two Merkava IVs) were destroyed. Of these two Merkava Mark IVs, one was by powerful IEDs, and the other by Russian AT-14 'Kornet' missiles. The Israeli military said that it was satisfied with the Merkava Mark IV's performance, and attributed problems to insufficient training before the war. In total, 50 Merkava tanks (predominantly Merkava IIs and IIIs) were hit, eight of which remained serviceable on the battlefield. 21 tanks suffered armour penetrations (15 from missiles, and 6 from IEDs and anti-tank mines). Six were destroyed.

The AT-14 Kornet anti-tank laser-guided missile

The AT-14 Kornet anti-tank laser-guided missile


After the 2006 war, and as the IDF becomes increasingly involved in unconventional and guerrilla warfare, some analysts say the Merkava is too vulnerable to advanced anti-tank missiles, that in their man-portable types can be fielded by guerrilla warfare opponents. Other post-war analysts, including David Eshel, disagree, arguing that reports of losses to Merkavas were overstated and that "summing up the performance of Merkava tanks, especially the latest version Merkava Mark IV, most tank crews agree that, in spite of the losses sustained and some major flaws in tactical conduct, the tank proved its mettle in its first high-saturation combat." On a comparison done by the armor corps newsletter, it was shown that the average number of crewmen killed per tank penetrated by missile/rocket was reduced from 2 during the Yom Kippur War to 1.5 during the 1982 Lebanon War to 1 during the 2006 Lebanon War proving how, even in the face of the improvement in anti-tank weaponry, the Merkava series tanks provide increasingly better protection to its crew. The IDF wanted to increase orders of new Merkava Mark IV tanks, and planned to add the Trophy active defense system to Merkava Mark IV tanks, and to increase joint training between crews and Israeli antitank soldiers.

Operation Cast Lead

The Merkava IV was used more extensively during the Gaza War, as it had been received by the IDF in increasing numbers since 2006, replacing more of the Merkava II and III versions of the tank that were in service. One brigade of Merkava IVs managed to bisect the Gaza strip in five hours without Israeli casualties. The commander of the brigade stated that battlefield tactics had been greatly revised since 2006. Tactics had also been modified to focus on asymmetric or guerilla war threats, in addition to the conventional war scenarios that the Merkava had primarily been designed to combat.

The IDF also deployed the Merkava II and III during the war.

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Merkava IV with Trophy active defense system.


Gaza Border areas

By October 2010, the IDF had begun to equip the first Merkava IVs with the Trophy active protection system, to improve the tanks' protection against advanced anti-tank missiles which use tandem-charge HEAT warheads. Added protection systems included an Elbit laser-warning system and IMI in-built smoke-screen grenades.

In December 2010, Hamas fired an AT-14 Kornet anti-tank missile at a Merkava Mark III tank stationed on the Israel-Gaza border near Al-Bureij. It had hitherto not been suspected that Hamas possessed such an advanced missile. The missile penetrated the tank's armour, but caused no injuries among its crew. As a result of the attack, Israel decided to deploy its first Merkava Mark IV battalion equipped with the Trophy system along the Gaza border.

On March 1, 2011, a Merkava MK IV stationed near the Gaza border, equipped with the Trophy active protection system, successfully foiled a missile attack against it, marking the system's first operational success.

Tank Merkava Mk 4

IDF Merkava Mk. IVm tank pictured on the Gaza border. It has the Trophy APS installed, which have become operational in the IDF since 2011.


Operation Protective Edge 2014

No tanks were damaged during Operation Protective Edge. The Merkava Mk. IVm tanks, fitted with the Trophy Active Protection system, intercepted anti-tank missiles and RPGs on dozens of different occasions during the ground operation. During the operation, the system intercepted anti-tank weapons, primarily Kornet, as well as Metis-M and RPG-29, proving itself effective against man-portable anti-tank weapons. By identifying the source of fire, Trophy also allowed tanks to kill the Hamas anti-tank team on one occasion.

Giora Katz, head of Rafael's land division, stated that it was a "breakthrough because it is the first time in military history where an active defense system has proven itself in intense fighting."

401st Brigade (equipped with Merkava Mk. IVm tanks) alone killed between 120–130 Hamas militants during the ground fighting phase of Operation Protective Edge, according to the IDF.

Tank Merkava Mk 4


In May 2012, Israel offered procurement of Merkava IV tanks to the Colombian Army. The sale would include 25–40 tanks at an approximate cost of $4.5 million each, as well as a number of Namer APCs. With the threat of the expanding Venezuelan military, it would strengthen Colombian armored forces against Venezuelan T-72 tanks.

In 2014, Israel reported that exports of the Mk. 4 have started with the country's name not disclosed for security reasons.


Following the Second Intifada the Israel Defense Forces modified some of their Merkavas to satisfy the needs of urban warfare.

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Merkava LIC

These are Merkava Mark III BAZ or Mark IV tanks, converted for urban warfare. The LIC designation stands for "Low intensity conflict", underlining its emphasis on counter-insurgency, street-to-street inner-city asymmetrical type warfare of the 21st century.

The Merkava is equipped with a turret 12.7 mm caliber coaxial machine gun, which enables the crew to lay down fairly heavy cover fire without using the main gun (which is relatively ineffective against individual enemy combatants). Like the new remote-operated weapon station, the coaxial machine-gun is fired from inside the tank without exposing the crew to small-arms fire and snipers.

The most sensitive areas of a tank, its optics, exhaust ports and ventilators, are all protected by a newly developed high-strength metal mesh, to prevent the possibility of explosives charges being planted there.

Rubber whip pole-markers with LED tips and a driver's rear-facing camera have been installed to improve navigation and maneuverability in an urban environment by day or by night.

Merkava Tankbulance

Some Merkava tanks have been fitted with full medical and ambulance capabilities while retaining their armament (but carrying less ammunition than the standard tank). The cabin area has been converted for carrying injured personnel and has had two stretchers and life support medical station systems added with a full medical team complement to operate under combat conditions with a Merkava battalion. The vehicle has a rear door to facilitate evacuation under fire, and can provide covering fire.

The "tankbulance" is not an unarmed ambulance and as such is not protected by the Geneva Conventions provisions regarding ambulances, but it is far less vulnerable to accidental or deliberate fire than an ambulance or armored personnel carrier.


Namer in Yad La-Shiryon 62nd Independence Day exhibition.


Merkava IFV Namer

Namer (Hebrew: leopard, which is also an abbreviation of "Nagmash (APC) Merkava"), is an infantry fighting vehicle based on the Merkava Mark IV chassis. In service since 2008, the vehicle was initially called Nemmera (Hebrew: leopardess), but later renamed to Namer.

Namer is equipped with a Samson Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) armed with either a .50 M2 Browning Heavy Machinegun or a Mk 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher. It also has a 7.62 mm MAG machine gun, 60 mm mortar and smoke grenades. Like the Merkava Mark IV, it is optimized for high level of crew survival on the battlefield. The Namer has a three-man crew (commander, driver, and RCWS gunner) and may carry up to nine infantrymen and a stretcher. An ambulance variant can carry two casualties on stretchers and medical equipment.

The Golani Brigade used two Namer IFVs during Cast Lead operation. During Operation Protective Edge more than 20 vehicles were operated with great success and post operation analysis recommended procuring more of them.

Namer CEV

Namer CEV in Yad La-Shiryon 68th Independence Day exhibition.


Merkava ARV Nemmera

The Merkava armored recovery vehicle initially called Namer (Hebrew: leopard), but subsequently renamed Nemmera (Hebrew: leopardess). It is an armored recovery vehicle based on a Merkava Mark III or IV chassis. It can tow disabled tanks and carries a complete Merkava back-up power pack that can be changed in the field in under 90 minutes.

There are two versions of Nemmera: the heavier equipped with a 42 ton-meter crane and a 35 ton-meter winch, and the smaller equipped with a smaller crane. 

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Tactics specifications Merkava Mk 4M

Unit cost - $3.5 million (Merkava IV) (for delivery to the IDF), $4.5 million (Merkava IV) (2014 price for sales to other countries)

Weight - 65 tonnes (143,000 pounds)

Length - 9.04 m or 29.7 ft (incl. gun barrel), 7.60 m or 24.9 ft (excl. gun barrel)

Width - 3.72 m or 12.2 ft (excl. skirts)

Height - 2.66 m or 8.7 ft (to turret roof)

Crew - 4 (commander, driver, gunner, and loader)

Passengers - Maximum 6 passengers

Armor - Classified composite/sloped armour modular design.

Main armament - 120 mm (4.7 in) MG253 smoothbore gun, capable of firing LAHAT ATGM

Secondary armament

- 1 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in) MG
- 2 × 7.62 mm (0.300 in) MG
- 1 × 60 mm (2.4 in) internal mortar
- 12 smoke grenades

Engine - 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) turbocharged diesel engine

Power/weight - 23 hp/tonne

Payload capacity - 48 rounds

Transmission - Renk RK 325

Suspension - Helical spring

Ground clearance - 0.45 m (1.5 ft)

Fuel capacity - 1,400 litres

Operational range - 500 km (310 mi)

Speed - 64 km/h (40 mph) on road, 55 km/h (34 mph) off road

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Tank Merkava Mk 4

Merkava Mk 4M Windbreaker, fitted with Trophy active protection system, during Operation Protective Edge 2014.


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