The Israeli defense establishment has entered the advanced stages of the concurrent development of two models of the future land combat vehicle: one model is tracked while the other is wheeled.
The concurrent development processes are directed by MAFAT (the Weapon System & Technological Infrastructure Research & Development Administration at IMOD), and stem from the fact that the defense establishment has no intention of developing a Merkava Mark-V tank, despite the fact that the first Merkava Mark-IV tanks started rolling off the production line as far back as 15 years ago. The future combat vehicle will be lighter than the Merkava Mark-IV tanks and will feature an active protection system fitted to each tank separately and offering common spatial protection for platforms operating within a given area cell.
The concurrent characterization process is performed by different teams. One team, operating within IMOD under Brig. Gen. (res.) Didi Ben-Yoash, develops a tracked armored vehicle designated “Carmel”.
The Tank Administration (MANTAK) subordinated jointly to IMOD and IDF, headed by Brig. Gen. Baruch Matzliach, develops the wheeled model. This administration is also responsible for the development and manufacture of the Merkava tanks and Namer APCs.
The characterization process, performed by both teams concurrently, may be completed within a few months, at which time a decision will have to be made as to whether to initiate an accelerated development process for either model or for both (for different purposes).
The characterization process addresses not only the vehicles but the systems fitted to them as well, including the cannon for the future vehicle (which may be removable, so that the vehicle may serve as an APC and as a tank), the fire control systems, the command and control systems, et al.
It seems that in any case, the weight of the future combat vehicle will be only about half the weight of the Merkava tank, to enable it to operate more freely in dense urban environments. The vehicle may be operated by a crew of three instead of the standard 4-men crew of current tanks. Various options for the propulsion systems of the future land combat vehicles are being examined as well.