The Merkava 4 tank is manufactured at a state plant, but components for this tank supplies many national defense enterprises
If you start to remember the symbols of the Israeli defense industry, the words Merkava, Galil and Uzi will most likely come up in memory first of all. The need for production for many years of high-class weapons for their soldiers led the ground segment of the Israeli defense industry to the development of a number of very effective military equipment, whose success was largely due to the fact that it was created by people who often have to fight back on the battlefield . Many of these weapons systems have been successful in the export market.
In anticipation that the new long-term development program launched by the Israeli Ministry of Defense under the name Rakiya, can provide for new lighter vehicles with sufficient protection and sufficient fire power that could meet the challenges of both the urban and traditional battlefield, the Israeli armed forces Every day they fight in the most protected military vehicles, which were created in order to meet national requirements, the main battle tanks of Merkava. This tank is not exactly banned for sale to other countries, but the latest version of the Mk4 may seem to most potential customers to be very expensive. The Israeli main battle tank (MBT) is manufactured in state-owned factories, but about 40% of its components is produced by the Israel Military Industries (IMI) ground systems division. Among these components is a transmission (licensed by Renk), part of the suspension system, turret support ring, ballistic protection kit and main cannon. IMI has developed an improved version of the gun, mounted on the Mk3 version, which shoots more powerful ammunition. However, the company is looking to the future, and therefore its technology demonstrator has already passed its first firing tests. New gun RG120 weighs half the gun tank Merkava Mk4, 1800 kg against 3600 kg; 1400 kg falls on the retractable mass. The recoil travel is 500 mm, while the recoil forces are 350 kN. According to IMI, mass reduction was achieved mainly due to technical improvements and optimization, as well as the elimination of expensive and exotic materials. The new gun has an automatic stopper mechanism and is compatible with the muzzle brake, further reducing the recoil forces. In order to complete the development, IMI is looking for a launch customer, and the national customer will certainly be at the top of the list if the Merkava Mk5 variant is turned into reality. The RG105 gun is also available in a rifled version.
Based on the Merkava MBT, Namer is one of the heaviest armored personnel carriers in the world. For the future, Israel sees in service a family of lighter cars.
IMI is also actively involved in the Namer program, for which it supplies ballistic and roof protection, as well as the transmission and part of the suspension system. The company took part in the upgrades of such machines as, for example, M60, T-72, T-55 and M113, and also provided advice to the Hindus in creating the Arjun tank. Turkey was awarded a major contract for the modernization of the M60 tank, where IMI was active in all areas: firepower, protection and mobility. The company is not averse to participating in several more similar programs. After the modernization programs of the armored personnel carrier M113 of the Brazilian Marine Corps and another program on the AM-13 vehicle from a not-named country, IMI recently received a modernization contract from a customer from the Far East and is awaiting another from the same region. It also offers a kit that converts T-54 / 55 tanks into NATO standard tanks, and according to IMI, customers will soon be announced.
The Wildcat armored personnel carrier is based on the Tatra 4x4 high-suspension chassis with independent suspension. It has a total mass of 18,5 tons and can take on board three crew members and nine paratroopers
In addition to its participation in the development and production of heavy armored vehicles and their modernization, Israel Military Industries developed the Wildcat armored personnel carrier at the end of the 2000s. This BTR is based on the Tatra 4x4 truck chassis, which was created using the company's experience in independent swing axles, which made it possible to get very good off-road maneuverability at a reasonable cost. The Wildcat machine has a single-volume body, its V-shape provides good protection against mines, although the levels of protection remain classified. As for ballistic protection, three sets are available, ranging from 7,62-mm armor-piercing to 14,5-mm armor-piercing and RPGs. The heavier the booking package, the smaller the payload, varying from 1,7 to 3,7 tons with a total weight of 18,5 tons. Immediately behind the cab, the Cummins 325 horsepower engine is installed. The BNC Wildcat can accommodate the crew of the 3 + 9, access to the car is via a stern ramp and a second ramp on the left side. Wildcat is offered in various configurations: reconnaissance and operational management, combat support, sanitary, evacuation, cargo, police and border security. Until now, this machine is waiting for its launch customer.
A Hurricane machine weighing 9,6 tons can carry up to 7 people. Currently, it is being manufactured at Hatehof’s assembly lines.
HURRICANE, NAVIGATOR, WOLF-HATEHOF
Hatehof, while remaining in the war machine business, but turning to lighter systems, remains the main Israeli player in this field. The company, located on the Golan Heights, is currently setting up production of its new machine Hurricane 4x4, which, when installed with the A-kit, provides the 2 Level ballistic protection and 3A / B Level mine protection; however, it has a mass of 9,6 tons and a payload of 2,1 tons. However, the total mass increases to 11 tons when installing the Kit-B kit, which provides 3 Level ballistic protection and 4A / B Level mine protection. The machine is equipped with a Cummins engine with 245 horsepower; It accommodates up to seven people. The weight reduction compared to the previous models is realized through the use of new special steel, but composite materials were not used at the same time, and all this in order to keep the cost within reasonable limits.
While the Xtream machine was developed for a special export program that was later closed, its 4 Level ballistic protection and 3B / 4A Level mine protection with a total mass of 16,5 tons allow us to hope for success in niche markets. According to the company Hatehof, which did not continue to develop, the Navigator armored car was designed for Turkey and at the same time its proposal on the market for MRAP vehicles. The Turkish version, known as Kirpi, was produced by the local company BMC, but due to financial problems its production was stopped. Here, Hatehof could take a fresh look at this market after a request for proposals issued by the Turkish Defense Industry Secretariat. With a total mass of 18,5 tons and a self-mass of 15 tons, the Navigator armored car can have STANAG-compliant protection when installed on a B-kit kit, and when installed on a C-kit kit, protection against improvised explosive devices (IED) and hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers (RPG). The machine is equipped with a Cummins engine with 4 horsepower; in the front cabin is located two people and in the troop compartment to 345 people.
Wolf remains at the moment the most successful car company. With a weight of 8,6 tons (own weight of 7,3 tons) with an A-kit kit (2 Ballistic Level, 1A / B Mine Action Level), up to nine soldiers can be accommodated in the vehicle. The flexibility of the project was demonstrated when Hatehof had to fulfill the requirement for a shorter version with a total weight of 7 tons and five seats. Wolf has also become the base platform for options for a control center and chemical and biological intelligence developed by the new Hatehof division of the RCB-intelligence system. Of course, both options are equipped with an overpressure system, while the control point is equipped with a perimeter marking system, a meteorological station, a GPS system, a bidirectional wireless data transmission system and modern communication facilities, and the OMP reconnaissance version is also equipped with the Hapsite Viper chemical identification system a manipulator for collecting soil and liquids, an external probe for determining chemical and biological air pollution, a radiation detector, sealed containers for storage and disinfection system for small objects. The new division also developed a decontamination machine based on the truck chassis, which is currently in service with the Israeli Armed Forces.
Armored Navigator, developed in accordance with Turkish requirements and produced by BMC, is an offer from Hatefof to the MRAP vehicle market.
Wolf is one of Hatehof's bestsellers. It has been designed in shorter and longer versions to meet customer requirements.
Although IAI is an aerospace specialist, it didn’t pass by ground systems and developed a maneuverable armored vehicle with protection in accordance with STANAG 3 level, which is in service with numerous combat and paramilitary units
RAM MKIII - RAMTA
Although the name of the company Israel Aerospace Industries nothing hints at the connection with ground systems, its IAI division Ramta is engaged in the production of light maneuverable armored car, known under the designation Ram MkIII. This latest version of the RBY platform, developed back in 70's, has a Deutz air-cooled 189 hp engine installed behind the engine, coupled with an automatic transmission with selectable 2xXNNXX and 4X4 drive modes; differential locking mechanism is installed on request. The RAM MkIII car of the bearing type, to which the power block and the undercarriage are attached, is made of ballistic steel, which makes it possible to obtain a bullet-proof mine-protected cabin.
The wheels 12.5x20 MPT, selected by the designers of the company Ramta, are much larger than the wheels of most cars of this class. This made it possible to obtain an extremely high cross-country patency without the use of a heavy, complex and expensive independent suspension. Armored vehicles can be equipped with ballistic protection corresponding to 2 or 3 STANAG Levels; recent models have received additional ceramic armor that can withstand 12,7-mm bullet and does not increase the load on the car. The anti-mine protection of the RAM MkIII armored car corresponds to the Level 2A / B, fiberglass flaps allow you to deflect a blast wave when a mine is detonated under the wheel.
The combat mass of the RAM MkIII is 6,5 tons for the basic version, but with an additional booking kit it grows to 7,2 tons. The driver and seven passengers are accommodated in the car; it has a maximum speed on the highway to 100 km / h, the power reserve is 800 km. The machine is offered with an open or closed cabin, in a shortened or lengthened version. The following options were developed: an armored personnel carrier, a commander, reconnaissance, an armament platform, an anti-aircraft installation, a mortar installation and a special forces vehicle. The RAM armored vehicle has been tested in real combat operations and serves in dozens of different military, paramilitary, and police units in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
With the acquisition of Seymar, Elbit Systems also entered the vehicle business, having inherited the Musketeer 4x4 lightweight armored car, which is mainly intended for border guarding and patrolling. After several years of improvements, Elbit has finally found its launch customer for this car. In March 2016, the message passed that a Musketeer armored car was purchased for the presidential guard of Cameroon. A remote-controlled combat module with an 7,62-mm machine gun is installed on these machines. The number of cars sold is not reported.
Car booking and security
IMI has developed additional lightweight L-VAS armor in order to increase the level of protection for light vehicles against RPGs and IEDs
The need for continuous modernization of vehicle protection systems forces Israeli companies to develop modern technologies and solutions that allow them to cope with growing threats. Today, some of these companies are known worldwide for their solutions in the field of active, passive and reactive protection.
More than 200 engineers at Plasan Sasa are working to improve security systems. It is one of the major players in the field of passive protection and focused on creating new brands of composite armor in order to reduce the weight and cost of its solutions. The company not only develops new technologies that help to cope with growing threats, but also participates directly in the production of machines in order to minimize labor and cost. Technical details on passive booking kits used in bestsellers such as the Oshkosh M-ATV remain largely classified. These kits are specifically designed to protect against cumulative, armor-piercing ammunition, as well as IEDs.
Passive protection kits are also available for offshore platforms and aircraft protection, mainly in the cockpit. They have a modular design and are easy to install, while in solutions for personnel and aircraft, mass becomes a priority. The company, whose products are well known for many years, quickly adapts to new realities.
Given the need to reduce the mass of reservation systems, Plasan has various composite solutions in its portfolio, not least thanks to its Plasan US Defense Composite Structures division. If information on composite solutions for land vehicles is extremely limited, then a little more is available on marine applications. Plasan US DCS composite multi-layer panels offer design and cost advantages, flammability protection and electrical shielding compatibility. They are ideal for next-generation high rectangular superstructures with a small effective reflection area. Composite technologies, such as pultrusion, are also used for the production of structural elements of ships, as well as rocket launchers, allowing you to reduce weight and cost by 50%. Plasan Sasa is confidently looking to the future with its TorTech division, which specializes in carbon nanotubes, which are used to improve the quality of composite armor machines. Q-Flo carbon nanotubes can revolutionize the defense sector by introducing new lightweight grades, stretchable and extremely durable protective materials. It is assumed that TorTech produces nanotube-based fibers from which the most durable artificial material can be obtained.
IRON WALL - IMI
Israel Military Industries supplies all ballistic protection kits for Merkava and Namer armored vehicles. Unlike many Western countries, Israel has always viewed rocket armor (in our terminology, dynamic protection) as a very important means of combating cumulative anti-tank shells, while constantly developing solutions aimed at reducing the risk for the nearby infantrymen. With the advent of IEDs, especially of the “shock core” type or with self-assembling striking elements, IMI developed Iron Wall, whose composite-metal hybrid structure saves weight compared to traditional homogeneous armor. The system used as a supplement, depending on the level of protection, weighs 200-230 kg / m2 and adds from 110 to 150 mm to the original armor. Breakwater, a heavier passive-reactive hybrid composite material designed to combat RPGs, adds approximately 450 kg / m2 and thickness 350-400 mm. At the other end of the family can be noted the L-VAS protection system designed for light vehicles, such as wheeled armored personnel carriers, which increases the level of protection against the RPG and IED. This is another system based on passive and energetic materials, fully qualified by the Israeli army for the M113 BTR. Able to withstand multiple hits from the RPG-7, 14,5-mm armor-piercing bullets or SVU, the system ensures the absence of a detonating wave between adjacent blocks of dynamic protection, damage to the hull and minimal impact on people in the immediate vicinity of the machine.
The Bright Arrow complex combines a remotely controlled combat module and the Iron Fist counter-missile.
The main sensor Iron Fist is a compact hemispherical radar RPS-10, developed by Rada
IMI calls Iron Fist the second generation of active protection; it consists of a component of an optoelectronic countermeasure and a component of direct destruction of attacking means
IRON FIST - IMI
In the area of active protection, IMI has developed an active protection and optical-electronic countermeasures system, which is called Iron Fist. The idea is to drown out all mutable threats, leaving counter-attacks for something that cannot be silenced. The anti-tank missiles are counteracted by an opto-electronic silencer capable of knocking down a missile at a distance of one kilometer, launched from a distance of three kilometers. The silencer was developed by Israeli company Ariel Photonics, while muffling technology was developed by IMI. If the threat cannot be silenced, an anti-projectile is issued from a rotating twin-tube launcher. The meeting point is calculated due to incoming signals from several sensors: a bolometric camera, a day camera and a Rada RPS-10 radar. The latter weighs 17 kg, closes the 120 ° sector; thus, a radar 360 ° requires three radars. Counter projectile flies quickly and burns, destroying the attacking projectile. The available warhead contains a certain amount of metal, which will be replaced by composite materials, which will further reduce indirect losses.
Technologies developed for Iron Fist were also used in the development of the Bright Arrow active protection system. In it, on a single swivel support, the MFDB and the Iron Fist anti-rifle launcher are combined, it also includes a radio frequency sensor, a thermal imager and a CCD camera. The complex is easy and simple to install on light armored vehicles due to the small mass of 250 kg. IMI is also developing a stationary system to protect camps and bases from artillery shells, unguided rockets and mortar shells.
TROPHY - RAFAEL
Currently, the only active system in service with the Israeli army is the Rafael Trophy-HV complex, mounted on Merkava Mk4 tanks. The complex demonstrated its usefulness in battle in March 2011, when the tank 1A from the 9-th tank battalion struck the attacking projectile. Detection and maintenance of the threat is performed by Doppler AFAR-radar (with active phased antenna array) ELM-2133 WindGuard from IAI / ELTA with four antennas installed in the four corners of the machine in order to provide coverage of the upper hemisphere on 360 °. The radar complex provides the on-board computer with the necessary data, including the classification of threats. The maximum accuracy of the calculations is necessary in order to activate one of the two launchers with the best position and launch the anti-projectile with ready-made attack elements in the direction of the attacking projectile. These attack elements target specific areas of the attacking projectile, and therefore radar classification of the target is a key issue. Each counter-missile generates "a certain amount" of non-aerodynamic elements, the number of which is very limited, which allows to destroy the threat without an explosion.
When visiting the Rafael test site, where the Merkava tank with the Trophy complex was tested, it seems like a box full of combat units of rocket-propelled grenades, which are hit by the anti-shells of the complex in the same place, which serves as proof of the stability and accuracy of the entire system. Over 2000, tank attacks from an RPG in real conditions were carried out in Haifa, in addition, anti-tank missiles were fired at the test site in southern Israel. According to Rafael, over 90% RPGs are destroyed without charge initiation. In the case of anti-tank missiles, they are exploded at great distances from the vehicle. The classification of threats also means that if the attacking threat flies past, the system is not activated, which saves the counter-projectile and avoids the destruction of the projectile. The ELM-2133 Radar is also used as a situational awareness tool, as it can determine the position of the shooter; at the touch of a button, the tank commander can transfer the turret and direct the weapon directly to the fire source. Rafael received a second large order from the Israeli army, and from 2012, all three armored battalions received Merkava Mk4 tanks equipped with a Trophy complex. Since the first publicized defeat, the Trophy complex has worked at least five more times, and the radar has identified the shooter.
For the export market, Rafael developed the Trophy-MV complex, which has less weight than the HV variant (450 kg versus 850 kg), while retaining the characteristics and adding also the possibilities of optical-electronic countermeasures. The miniaturization process helped to reduce the mass of the new version. The system, which is at the prototype stage, expects the launch customer to complete its qualification. Also offers a third option Trophy-LV, designed for light cars. Threat detection is based on opto-electronic sensors; its executive elements in the form of modules fixed on the roof of the vehicle create, at a minimum distance from the armor of the vehicle, an “energy blade” directed downward which “cuts off” the attacking warhead. If the HV and MV complexes are effective against missiles and armor-piercing shells, the Trophy-LV complex weighing 200 kg (for the Humvee armored car) is designed to fight RPGs. Rafael is also awaiting a launch customer.
Three tank battalions are armed with Merkava Mk4 tanks, equipped with the Rafael Trophy complex. These systems have been successfully tested in combat.
A key component of the Rafael Trophy complex is the ELM 2133 Winguard Radar from IAI-Elta, which provides the data needed to start the actuator
ASPRO - RAFAEL
Rafael is also a major player in the field of passive (traditional) and reactive (dynamic protection) armor. Its systems are installed on the machines of many armies of the world, for example, eight different systems of additional reservations of this company were operated in Iraq and Afghanistan by the coalition forces. The company currently offers two Aspro-P and Aspro-H reservation families, in the designation of which the “P” index means passive and the “H” index hybrid.
The fully passive Aspro-P system is designed to absorb energy and prevent penetration of the main armor; it enhances the ballistic protection of the machine to the 3, 4 or 5 levels, which comply with the NATO standard STANAG 4569. This easily installed, fully modular system is tested in combat conditions. Although the composition of chemical armor remains classified, it is clear that Rafael used its experience in ceramics, metal and other materials, as well as their combination and study of the mutual influence of these multilayer structures. Rafael’s ammunition and protection division, along with a floating bottom, developed a multi-layered mine protection with excellent energy absorbing characteristics.
The light, enhanced Enhanced Appliqué Armor Kit, an advanced reservation kit, was designed specifically to enhance the level of protection of the AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles of the US Marine Corps while maintaining their amphibious characteristics. Using his experience in the field of dynamic protection, the company Rafael has developed units installed on the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle of the American army. The company has created a hybrid system Aspro-H, which uses insensitive energy materials with a low burning rate. They do not detonate and do not burn when bullets, projectiles or fragments hit, and only react when they are hit by a cumulative projectile, generating energy that destroys the cumulative jet. Passive elements of the Aspro-H system provide ballistic protection in accordance with the 5 Level according to the NATO standard STANAG 4569.
The Trophy-LV complex, intended for installation on light patrol cars, is based on a completely different actuating element. In the photo the complex is installed on the armored car HMMWV
Rafael has developed hybrid protection by giving it the designation Apsro-H. To destroy the cumulative jet, it uses insensitive energetic materials with a low burning rate.
ORAN SAFETY GLASS
We reviewed the decisions of Israeli companies in the field of non-transparent and active protection. But not to mention solutions in the field of transparent protection. Oran Safety Glass (OSG) specializes in the design and manufacture of flat and curved laminated tempered glass and bulletproof glass for military and civilian tasks. The company has sold its products in more than 35 countries; She works together with numerous vehicle manufacturers from the United States, France, Germany, Italy and others. Its most advanced solutions save up to 30% mass. Taking into account the changes in the types of threats, OSG has built a testing ground, where not only ballistic tests are now carried out, but also explosive, fragmentation tests, to hit rocket-propelled grenades and “shock core” charges. This made it possible to expand the range due to flat and curved glass, resistant to explosion and shrapnel. OSG also manufactures glass on the basis of ceramics, which reduces the mass by about 50%. It provides protection levels from 1 to 4 in accordance with the STANAG standard (the company’s conventional STANAG Level 2 glass has a surface density of 125 kg / m2, while a ceramic solution has a surface density of 71 kg / m2).
Glass products from OSG can be found on most American MRAP vehicles, trucks and general-purpose vehicles, on PVP vehicles from Renault Trucks Defense, on Zetros and Actros from Daimler, on German MAN trucks and Italian Astra trucks.
In the ScreenX digital window system developed by Oran Safety Glass, the digital display is integrated into the windshield (pictured above for driving at night). It displays the map and GPS coordinates (in the center). Visualization of Silk Light; embedded system allows you to project programmed messages of various types (below)
Well aware of the risks of urban combat scenarios, OSG developed an innovative solution, RockStrike, a layer that protects armor glass from being damaged by stones, even when launched at relatively high speeds, for example, using sling. This solution reduces costs because bullet-proof glass does not need to be replaced, unless bullets hit it. It also provides better visibility compared to metal mesh solutions. Another new product is called Adi (Hebrew jewel). This technology avoids the formation of fragments inside the car without the use of a typical plastic coating, which is attached to the inside of the glass and often stratified and damaged, thereby reducing the service life of armor glass.
RockStrike's outer cover protects against any solid objects fired by muscular strength.
As for situational awareness, another innovative solution from OSG is the so-called Digital Visual Window (recently called ScreenX). The liquid crystal display integrates into the windshield, allowing the driver and commander to receive information simply by looking ahead through the glass. The screen can be installed in any place and is capable of playing high-resolution video, text and graphics. Another OSG solution that provides information on the windshield is called Silk Light. This is a built-in light-controlled electronic system that displays information directly to transparent bulletproof glass. It provides predetermined specific information, such as the location of the vehicle, the danger of overturning, engine or cabin overheating, emergency escape and exit warnings, etc.
Another key element in the vehicle security system is the protection of fuel tanks. Magam Safety, a member of the Star Defense System Group, has developed and manufactured flexible self-sealing fuel tanks for Merkava tanks. She recently developed an external solution that allows you to transform a standard tank into a self-sealing due to the weight gain of the entire 14 kg / m2. Taken by the Israeli army in several secret projects, this decision revealed during the tests the fuel leakage of the entire 7,7 gram when penetrating the fuel tank with a 7,62 caliber mm bullet.
To be continued