Brig. Gen. (res.) Didi Ben-Yoash, formerly Chief IDF Armored Corps Officer, presented a simulation of Project Carmel – a future technology demonstrator for the IDF Armored Corps. The objective of this long-term program is to develop the technological infrastructure for the future armored platform that will constitute a quantum leap with regard to the primary characteristics of the future platform – operation, weight, size and survivability.
The future armored platform will be light, agile, small, relatively inexpensive and simple to operate and designed primarily for operation in urban areas with the hatches closed. The Carmel platform will be operated by two crewmen seated side-by-side, one of whom will be the platform commander and both of whom will be able to execute all of the activities required in order to operate the platform.
In order to enable operation by two crewmen only, a revolutionary decision-support system will be required. This system will carry out most of the activities currently carried out by the crewmen (including autonomous navigation and driving, target spotting, aiming, independent firing whenever possible plus other features).
The crewmen manning the Carmel platform will only carry out the operations the system cannot execute on its own. The cockpit will be sufficiently spacious to accommodate an additional crew member, who would be able to operate external systems (e.g. ground/aerial autonomous vehicles and stand-off munitions). The third crewmen manning a unit command vehicle will be the commander of the relevant unit (platoon commander/company commander).
The future armored platform will have a hybrid drive system that would enable, among other things, storing of energy so as to fulfill all future operational demands. The platform will be protected by a state-of-the-art active protection system and secured against cyberattacks. The new platform will be able to destroy enemy antitank detachments and rocket launchers. Owing to its small size and light weight, it will be able advance relatively easily through dense urban areas.
Three industries (Rafael, Elbit Systems and IAI) are currently engaged in the installation of the systems required for the operation of the future armored platform by two crewmen. Rafael offered a transparent cockpit. Elbit Systems suggested that the tank be commanded using a crewman's helmet offering similar capabilities to those of the helmet Elbit Systems provides to pilots of fifth-generation fighter aircraft, while IAI offered a combination of both solutions.
According to Ben-Yoash, the Carmel Program draws a lot of interest among the international armored platform community. He stressed that the Carmel Program is a truly revolutionary and unique program in the world of armored and fighting platforms.
"The Carmel Program is intended to develop the technological infrastructure for the future armored platform. In this context, an infrastructure will be developed to enable the employment of all munition types, including missiles. The future active protection program, which is to include highly-developed collective protection in the future, is being developed in the context of the Carmel Program. When it is completed – it will be used for existing platforms (Merkava, Namer & Eitan) as well. This principle (of fitting technologies that had matured in the context of the Carmel Program to existing armored platforms) applies to an extensive range of subjects," concluded Ben-Yoash.