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  • תמונת הסופר/תdgross479

The plan to upgrade the Merkava brigade in the IDF!!

עודכן: 22 במרץ 2023

Chapter No'-1 Introduction:

In the heavy tank brigade, Merkava tanks and medium tanks will work together. Both types of tanks need to go through series of upgrades in order to adapt them to the challenges of the battlefield to day.

The combination of heavy tanks, medium tanks and other armored forces will allow the Commander to be more flexible in building the force to suit his mission. The combination of 120mm guns, 57mm guns, 35mm guns and 20mm Gatling gun, on the one hand, and a large amount of missiles and rockets on the other hand will prevent the enemy from getting any achievement if a war will break out.

In the war between Russia and Ukraine and also in the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, we saw the great importance of various types of drones for observation purposes and also as attacking units, such as the Turkish drone TB-2. Ukraine purchased a number of drones like this type from Turkey and at the beginning of the war they hit a lot of Russian vehicles.

These systems are the Air Force and the Armored Corps of the weak side, but when the numbers of these flying objects reach hundreds and thousands, it suddenly transforms the weak side to the strong side; therefore anti-aircraft systems will have a critical role on the battlefield. The first line of defense will be the anti-aircraft/anti-tank turret that should be installed on our tanks and other armored vehicles.

Below are pictures of Turkish drones that have a large and advanced industry in the field of unmanned aircraft.

Photo #1 The Turkish TB2 drone

These Drones are very successful in Ukraine and carries 4 laser-guided bombs.

Photo # 2 Another Turkish UAV called 'Anka-S'.

This Drone Carry 4 guided missile

Photo #3 Baykar Bayraktar Akinci

A new Turkish UAV and its impressive display of armaments.

Link to the UAV:

Drones like these, will cause a lot of troubles to armour and infantry forces who will not be ready to fight with them, as we saw in Ukraine. From this war that is not over yet, there are several lessons and actions that Israel needs to take in order to avoid those mistakes.

The first lesson is the importance of an anti-aircraft system to protect the armored forces from attack by Drone or other unmanned flying objects.

We saw an example of a similar situation in the Sisyphean fighting on Yom Kippur against the anti-aircraft and the anti-tanks missiles in the Egyptian sector and also in certain places in Syria such as ’Tel Shams’. That's why we need to avoid mistakes and get prepared to protect our forces from manned and unmanned flying object and defend our tanks from ATGM and anti tank rockets. One way to do it is to install Active Defense System -(ADS) and reactive plates on the tanks that can defeat the anti tank missiles and rockets. On top of that we needed to install the ACU (Autonomous Combat Unit) to attack anybody that threat our forces.

Second lesson: the launch of anti-tank missiles against our tanks must be prevented, and the way to do this is by hitting the anti-tank teams before they launch. To this end, we should install on the tank a small turret that will fit verity of weapons to allow the tank to fight in any kind of war. In addition to the offensive side, the tank and other combat vehicles, should be protected with reactive and active armor such as Rafael's 'Trophy' or Elbit's 'Iron Fist'.

These points turned out in the fighting in Ukraine to be weak points of the Russian army, although the fault is not only the lack of this or that equipment, but also the inability of the commanders who forgot the phrase “art of war”. Israel should be aware of these points, train the army including the reserves and install weapons systems that are suitable of attacking the enemyand defense our forces. I will expand on these points later and add several more points. I wrote about the upgrades of the Merkava tanks in this chapter and about the Medium tanks in chapter #2.

Photo No. 4 Merkava Tank Mark-4m

1.1 Installation of anti-aircraft/anti-tank turret on the Merkava tank.

The problem I have with the tanks is that the firepower of the tank does not match the threats that exist against the tank today. The tank must upgrade its firepower and his protection if it wants to stay relevant in our days.

So we need to upgrade the weapons of the tank so it can fight against enemy’s tanks and against Infantry carry ATGM, short range weapons and more.

For all this problems neither the 120 cannon will help, and nor the new 130 mm gun.

In photo No’-5 we see the ATGM N-LAW a short range missile operated by one soldier

that can destroy a tank from 800 meters away.

below is the picture of the new short range missile that gets big publicity in Ukraine war.

The anti-tank missile called N-Low. ATGM N-LAW picture No’-5

This missile is produced by the Saab Company in Sweden that cooperates with England. Its weight is 12.5 kg, its length is 1 meter and the diameter of the warhead is 150 mm. Its effective range is 800 meters, its speed is about 200 meters per second and his price is about $50,000.

The missile has several initiation options and here is one of them.

1. The missile fly to its target at a height of 1 meter above the line of sight and when it passes over the turret, it's activated by a proximity fuse and penetrate the top of the turret, and kill everybody there.

All these problems have a solution and one of them is the installation of an anti-aircraft /anti-tank small turret on the 120 mm turret. The main threat that we will encounter on the future battlefield, will come from "(remotely manned flying object). (RMFO) such as attack drones, suicide drones, and other similar threats.

Therefore, the installation of a small turret carrying a 35 mm gun and 20 mm Gatling gun mounts at the rear of the Merkava turret can be a good soloution. in this arrangment the gunner will shoot the 120 gun and the tank commander will shoot the 35 mm and the 20mm guns. So the tank can hit 2 separate targets at the same time. In addition, the 35 mm cannon will be extremely effective against vehicles whose protection falls short of the tank's protection, although shells with a muzzle velocity of about 1,500 m/s may penetrate the side armor of some tanks.

Photo No’- 6. The turret IWS35 with 35 mm gun and HMG by KMW

Below are some sentences about the anti-aircraft shell of these cannon:

Ahead Ammunition – “The 35 mm Ahead system consists of measurement and programming units, control electronics and programmable Ahead ammunition. It can be fitted to any suitable automatic cannon and then successfully engage small, fast aerial targets with a high kill probability. Each Ahead round contains 152 tungsten sub-projectiles which are ejected immediately in front of the oncoming target. The measurement unit determines the velocity of each Ahead round prior to muzzle exit. Based on this data, the control electronics calculates the sub-projectile ejection time, which is transmitted via the programming unit to the time fuse in the projectile”.

On the 35 mm turret I would make several upgrades:

1. I’ll replace the HMG on the right side of the turret with a 20 mm Gatling gun called M-197. (Photo No’-7) The gun has two rates of fire: low rate of 750 rounds per minute and high rate of 1,500 rounds per minute.

Photo No’. 7 Gatling gun with diameter of 20 mm.

2. I’ll install on the left side of the 35 mm turret 2 anti-tank missile launchers that can be replaced by rocket launchers.

The rocket launchers are:

1. A rocket launcher for (4) 70 mm guided rockets (photo No’- 8), these rockets are guided to a laser spot, they have a range of 12 km and that means that they will be able to give a serious fight to the enemy's anti-tank missile launchers, In particular, the radar of the defense system will detect the launch point of the enemy and few 70mm rockets will fly to this point, or few shells from the 35 mm canon and hit that team before they launch.

Photo No’-8 Launcher for 4 rockets

2. A rocket launcher for (4) Russian 80 mm rockets, the launcher should be similar to the 70 mm rocket launcher. The 80 mm rockets are heavier than the 70 mm and have a heavier warhead, so they will be more effective in fighting at close quarter.

3. A launcher for Russian Thermobaric Rocket Shamel-M.

Photo No’-9 the Thermobaric Shamel-M

with a diameter of 90 mm, length of 90 cm, an effective range of 600 meters, a maximum range of 1,700 meters and their power is similar to the power of an explosive 155 mm artillery shell. (Photo No’- 9) They will be the star in a built-up area combat.

It will be interesting to examine the feasibility of laser guidance for these rockets, which might improve the rocket's effective range. This launcher should also be similar to the 70 mm rocket launcher so that all launchers will be adapted for installation on the turret.

In addition to these rockets, the launchers for the anti-aircraft missiles called 'Stinger' (photo No’-10) and the launchers for Rafael's anti-tank missiles (photo No’-11) should also be adapted for launching from the turret and also the launcher for 4 Zuni Rockets model that carries rockets with diameter of 127 mm and has laser homing. (Photo #12)

Photo No’-10 the stinger missile on a 20 mm Gatling gun on a mobile anti aircraft vehicle.

Photo No’-11 Rafael Spike-ER missile

Photo No’-12 launcher for 4 rocket type Zuni 127 mm that can be laser guideness

On completion of all these changes, we will get an anti-aircraft/anti-tank missile launchers with many capabilities and options for installing missiles and rockets of various types. The mix of rockets and missiles will be determined according to the sector in which the tanks will be used.

1.2 Installation of an "Autonomous Combat Unit" (ACU) on the turret of the Merkava.

Another change that I'll do is to install an 'Autonomous Combat Unit' (ACU) behind the 120 mm turret. The idea of the ACU can be seen in photo No’-13, this unit is built from a large ammunition box that will installed behind the turret and 2 0.5" HMG that will installed on top of it.

Photo No’-13 model for the ACU

Photo No’-14 the new HMG Gatling gun in caliber 0.5"

We will install 0.5” HMS on a structure that will raise the machine guns so they can fire above the turret without interfering with the Active Defense System. (ADS) The ammunition chains will be installed in the ammunition box behind the turret instead of the Turret Basket.

This installation will allow the machine guns to shoot straight ahead and also control the areas on both sides of the tank.

These machine guns will provide perimeter protection around the tank up to a distance of 2,000 meters. These Heavy machine guns will be effective against soft vehicle, exposed infantry, against buildings in combat at built-up area, and more. (Photo #14)

More option for weapons on the “ACU” is HMG in “0.5 (Photo No’-15) or anther option is the AGL (Automatic Grande Launcher) in 40 mm diameter (Photo No’-16).

We can install on third of the vehicles the MG and the other third with AGL and the last third with HMG. or any other combination.

Photo No’-15 AGL 40 mm Balkan.

1.3 Installation of loitering Munition.

The tank cannon has one major drawback and that is short range which is only a few kilometers, it is the best in these ranges, but today the anti-tank missiles have a much greater range. In order to hit targets beyond the range of the tank cannon and the anti-tank missiles, we need to install on the tank loitering munitions such as the "Hero-120" weapon. (Photo No’-17). The "Hero-120" weighs 18 kg and is equipped with 5 kg warhead that will be highly effective against armored vehicles, it has a range of 60 km, it can stay in the air for about an hour and this included flight time to the target area, searching for the target and hitting it. If no target is found, the munition can change direction and go after another target, or it can return back to a collection point, open a parachute, descend safely to the ground and a collection unit will reach it and prepare it for another launch.

Photo No’-16 ”Hero-120” Loitering Munition.

Photo No’-17“Hero-400 EC” Loitering Munition

There is anther Loitering Munition name Hero-400EC. It has precision strike capabilities, it has bigger multi-purpose warhead and extended endurance, the Hero-400EC has been proven effective against a wide variety of targets. Weight: 50 kg Warhead: 10 kg, Range: 120+ km Endurance: 120 min. Engine: Electrical, Launch method: Rail, Single or Multi-Canister. We will install the Loitering munitions in a 4-munition launcher that will be installed behind the ACU ammunition box that is installed behind the turret; the launcher will be installed in a horizontal position and will rise to 45 degrees before launch. The launcher will be aligned by aligning the entire turret.

The "Uvision" company presented several models of Loitering Munitions ranging from weighing 3 kg to 155 kg, with warhead starting at 0.5 kg and ending with a weight of 50 kg, starting with munitions that can stay in the air about 30 minutes and ended with a weapon that can stay in the air for about 10 hours.

You can read about Uvision armaments in the link below:

In addition to upgrades in the weapon systems, the Merkava brigade should be reinforced with medium tanks in a ratio of 3 medium tanks to one Merkava tank. See chapter #-2 regarding medium tanks and chapter #-7 regarding the structure of the heavy Brigade.

Summarize the upgrade to the tank:

1. Installing a launcher for 4 Loitering Munitions, carrying more loitering munitions in the tank and receiving information from drones for the location of the enemy formation, will allow the tanks to destroy a large number of targets from long distance.

2. The 2 HMG in 0.5” caliber will be installed on the 2 ears of the ammunition box, and will be operated by 'Artificial Intelligence’- (AI) that will allow hitting structures, infantry squads and other targets without human contact.

3. An anti-aircraft/anti-tank turret will be placed on the turret of the tank, where a 35 mm cannon and a 20 mm Gatling gun will be installed. In addition, we will install on the left side of the turret, 2 launchers for rockets of different diameters or for anti-aircraft missiles like 'Stinger’, or the anti-tank missiles from Rafael the 'Spike' type and more. this move will increase the tank ability to fight against flying aircraft of all kinds, against armored vehicles, against infantry and increase the survivability of the entire fighting force.

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