February 08, 2005

Merkava Movie

Via Target Centermass and Eric's Random Musings, a link to a verrrry cool video of the Israeli Merkava Mark 4 MBT in training action.

I wonder what Eric and Gunner (and any other former armor readers of mine) think of the Merkava. Is the Merkava 4 comparable to the M1A1/A2 tanks we have? Are there any MBTs that would have a fighting chance against ours?

Posted by JohnL at February 8, 2005 10:14 PM

Hey John,

The Merkava is a very good tank. The truth is that the M1, British Challenger, German Leopard II and Merkava Mk IV are all in a class of their own. All of these tanks are quite comparable to each other and really the differences between them are minor, at best. The really crucial issue with these tanks is how good their crew is. With good crews (and certainly these four countries arguably have the finest soldiers in the world today) no other armored force has a hope against them.

Think back to the arguments put forth by Heinlein in Starship Troopers about the value of well trained, highly motivated volunteers couple with high technology vs. conscripts. The US and Britain proved that time and again in the past decades (Britain went to an all volunteer military in the 1950's). Israel has special reasons why their conscripts are as highly motivated and well trained as our volunteer armies are. And Germany had many of the same special reasons prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Posted by: Eric at February 9, 2005 01:56 AM

I believe the Merkava was also designed so that the engine was in front to help protect the crew. Their armor forces are small to begin with, so every trained tanker is a valuable and rare resource.

Posted by: Ted at February 9, 2005 11:33 AM

Ted is correct about the engine placement on the Merkava. The only detraction to the Merkava is that it is not transportable by strategic assets (railroad, air, ship) because of its dimensions. This isn't an issue for Israel, but other countries that might be interested in the tank (Israel is a net weapons exporter) can't use it for that reason.

This relegates the Merkava to being a niche product that is only really well suited to Israel's environment. It does that very well, but falls short of the Challenger, Abrams and Leopard, all of which are much more general purpose vehicles and perform quite well in any environment.

Posted by: Eric at February 9, 2005 11:38 PM

John, the pictures here were way cool and I thought you'd find this whole thing to be of interest, if you haven't already looked: http://www.israeli-weapons.com/weapons/aircraft/f-16i/F-16I.html

Posted by: RP at February 11, 2005 01:50 PM

RP, You're right. Those pictures were way cool. Thanks for the suggestion!

Posted by: JohnL at February 11, 2005 10:13 PM
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