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June 24, 2013 3:25 pm

Israel Defense Ministry Will Fight for Merkava Project in Effort to Save 8,000 Jobs

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Israeli Merkava MK 1 tank.

Israel’s Defense Ministry says it will fight for the Merkava Tank development project in an effort to stave off  the potential loss of 8,000 jobs if the project is shut down.

Director-General Udi Shani of the Defense Ministry spoke out Monday at a special session of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee against the impact of cuts in the ministry budget on the Merkava Tank development project.

“The Ministry of Defense will fight for the Merkava as it fought for a blue and white (Israeli) satellite and other systems. We aspire that our armored force strength will be among the best there are in the world with an active defense.”

He noted that exports from the Merkava Tank industry total about $ 700 million annually, with much of the money returning to the economy.

According to Maariv, Deputy Defense Minister MK Danny Danon told the hearing that “these are vital industries. We can not recreate the technology of a closed factory. There is no intention, and I know of no intention to stop using tanks in the Israeli army.”

The IDF Blog provides details on the Merkava: “The initial planning for the Merkava began in the 1960s at a time when Israel wanted to become less reliant on foreign factories. The IDF began research and development together with the British army, but due to political reasons the project was soon abandoned. Years later, drawing on lessons from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel Tal led a development team to begin work on the Merkava project. By 1974 the first designs and prototypes were ready and by the end of 1978 the IDF began to train its forces in the new tank.”

Last February the Israel Defense Ministry announced that it was considering cancelling the project  on the grounds that “the budgetary situation requires making painful decisions.”

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  • Matt

    You don’t go anywhere with out armor and tanks. To prevent what occurred in 2006 you use small multiple faster moving columns. If the MBT is scrapped it will be replaced with a lighter faster moving tank, this can be done via the trophy system which the MBT require anyway. So it will have a bigger caliber main gun to out shoot any MBT in the region, lighter armor but with the trophy and heavy chassis and armor underneath to counter IED and EFP’s. So when the enemy know and say that Israel will not attack as the ground is too soft they will be wrong. So it will be lighter, faster out gun any MBT, well protected via the trophy more fuel efficient and cheaper. Or you just upgrade the MBT as things get older cost more to maintain and the hulls crack. With constraints in the US build a new MBT or upgrade the M1 to A4 and 5 blocks, bigger caliber, new light weight more powerful and fuel efficient engines, trophy. It all comes down to cost

  • When Israel closed its jet fighter development program South Africa welcomed Israel’s experts en masse to SA – nations, like people do not learn – it is much easier to pronounce a decision made than to have to deal with the consequences! It is why executive decision making is often devoid of humanity but the unintended consequences such as unemployment, emigration, loss of intelligent/technological insight should but rarely are considered as economic variables.

  • Vivienne Leijonhufvud

    Israel is surrounded by chaos, her tanks are needed, this is no time to make cuts in defense and saving 8,000 jobs is essential. Israel needs and wants to stand on her own two feet, enlist the support of powerful allies, so that she may defend herself and act swiftly. Her strikes back on Monday hit their targets and this is the way with modern war. Muslims yelling and squalling and carrying on like teenager’s having a punch up in the playground is thoroughly juvenile, messy, dragging infantile skirmishes and wars out for far too long. Why the US and Europe cannot see the above scenario is incomprehensible. Once Israel is free of terrorists Hammas & Hezbollah I firmly believe the rest of the world should sit back and watch Sunni’s and Shia’s fight each other to death. Russia and China are quite capable of handling Iran.


    Remotely controlled tanks – that’s the future.

  • Otto Schiff

    Defence spending serves several purposes.
    It designs and builds weapons,
    itemploys and trains workers,
    it signals potential adversaries.
    Keep it up.

  • Merkava is a wonderful tank but are tanks going to be used in the next war? And who could answer that question? Anyone? We would almost have to read into the future!