Merkava Mk 3 Tank pre-upgraded 1990 onwards

Merkava Mk 3 Tank pre-upgraded 1990 onwards

The Merkava Mk 3 Tank is the third production model of the Israeli Merkava Main Battle Tank series.

The Mk 3 offered improvements in Firepower, Protection and Mobility over the Merkava Mk 2, but retaining the same unique  troop section in the hull rear and the engine compartment in the front.

The Merkava Mk 3 Tank entered production in 1990 and ended in 2003 with a total of 750 built by the The Israeli Ordnance Corps.

Merkava Mk 3 Tank Firepower

Merkava MG251 120mm Smoothbore Main Gun

Merkava MG251 120mm Smoothbore Main Gun

The Principal upgrade has been the introduction of a 120mm, calibre Length 44 smoothbore main gun developed and manufactured by IMI’s SLAVIN Land Systems Division called the MG251. The MG251 complies with NATO STANAG 4385 ( the ammunition is described in this standard as 120 × 570mm length) and is therefore capable of firing all NATO standard ammunition.

IMI manufacturer M329 APAM-MP-T, M322 APFSDS-T, M324 TPCSDS-T, M325 HEAT-MP-T, M326 TP-T, M337 STUN, M338 APFSDS-T and M339 HE-MP-T rounds for the MG251.

The MG251 is capable of firing the LAHAT (Laser Homing Attack or Laser Homing Anti-Tank) which is a third generation semi-active laser homing low-weight anti-tank guided missile manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries. The main gun is fully stabilized as are the gunners sight with both day and thermal channels.

Merkava Mk 3 Tank Protection

Merkava Mk 3 Tank

Merkava Mk 3 Tank pre-upgraded

The hull of the Mk 3 retains the use of the engine compartment at the front to act as a form of spaced armor. The sides are protected with armored side skirts. The angled front of the turret was modified to accommodate the new 120mm main gun. It’s beleived that some form of composite armor was added over the frontal arc.

The hull has a v-shaped bottom with spaced armor offering added protection from Anti-Tank Mines. The armor system has been upgraded a number of times during production, please see upgraded versions below.

The fighting compartment is fitted with the Spectronix Fire Detection and Suppression System. 120mm ammunition is stored in fire-proof containers to prevent cooking off. The Mk 3 uses an electrical turret drive system rather than a hydraulic system, which is liable to catch on fire if penetrated.

Merkava Mk 3 Tank Mobility

The Mk 3 was fitted with a new Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-9AR 1,200 hp V12 air-cooled diesel engine, but retained the Ashot Ashkelon hydromechanical automatic gearbox. The improved engine provided increases in top road speed and power to weight ratio.

Production and Upgrades

The Merkava Mk 3 entered production in 1990 and ended in 2003. A total of 750 were built. During this time upgrades were implemented in both newly constructed vehicles and retro-fitted in older Mk 3’s. These upgrades focused on crew comfort, the Fire Control Systems and armored protection.

Merkava Mk 3B

Also known as the Block III, the vehicle was upgraded with the addition of a modular armor (containing composite) across the turret roof to offer protection against Anti-Tank Guided Missiles fired from elevated positions. Implemented from 1994 onwards, it was retained in all future upgrades.

Merkava Mk 3 Baz

Implemented from 1995 onwards, the new Barak Zoher Fire Control System can be identified by the addition of a new Commanders Sight  on the turret roof.The FCS could now auto track targets and is so effective it can track low-flying helicopters.

Merkava Mk 3D “Dor-Dalet”

The last of the upgrades to the Mk 3, is the Dor-Dalet (Hebrew: Fourth Generation). The vehicles protection was increased with the addition of modular armor containing composite material refered to as fourth generation added to the turret sides. These sloping modules also act as a form of spaced armor, which provide greater protection in urban areas.

The Dor-Dalet upgraded included a new Commanders Independent Sight which gives the Mk 3 a hunter killer capability bringing the tank up to a 3rd Generation standard.

 The tracks were also upgraded with a new strengthened version supplied by CAT. The Merkava Mk 3 Dor-Dalet entered service with the Israeli Defence Force in 2000.

Other Upgrades

Some Mk 3 have also received other upgrades over the years including the Ancoram Laser Warning System (crew are alerted to a laser designator being pointed at the tank), a new NBC protection system and an air conditioning system, which crew cooling vests can be hooked up too.

Merkava Mk 3 LIC

Merkava Mk 3 LIC

Merkava Mk 3 LIC

Israel has developed a small package for the Mk3 and Mk4, called “Low intensity conflict” aka LIC. It has bull whip mounts that look like aerials with LED lights on the tip mounted on all 4 corners of the tank and a rear camera to aid the drive whilst driving in-built up urban areas. Grills have been added to prevent objects being shoved in to the exhaust and other vents and sights.

Merkava Mk 3 Tank Videos

Operational History

The Merkava Mk 3 series is only in service with the Israeli Defence Force. It has participated for a number of years in the border patrols of the Gaza Strip where it’s reported 4 were lost between 2002 to 2003.

The first major operation the Mk3 was deployed on was the 2006 Lebanon War. One Mk 3 was destroyed in the conflict. The Mk 3 was also deployed during Operation Cast Lead, more commonly known as the 2008–09 Gaza War.

Merkava Mk 3 Tank Specifications

References:References:

Firepower
Main Gun MG251 120mm, calibre Length 44 smoothbore
Secondary Weapons x3 7.62mm Machine Guns and 60mm internal mortar
Ammunition Storage x46 (x5 of these in ready to fire mechanical drum) 120mm
Mobility
Engine  Teledyne Continental AVDS-1790-9AR 1,200 hp V12 air-cooled diesel
Transmission  Ashot Ashkelon hydromechanical automatic
Top Road Speed  60 km/h
Suspension Type  Helical spring
Road Range  500 km
Fuel Capacity  1,400 litres
Vertical Obstacle  0.95m *Mk 1
Water Capability  1.38m (2m with preparation) *Mk 1
Trench Crossing  3m *Mk 1
Gradient  70% *Mk 1
Side Slope  38% *Mk 1
Dimensions
Length Gun Forward  9.04m
Length Hull  7.6m
Width  3.7m (with out side skirts)
Height  2.66m
Ground Clearance  0.45
Weight  65 tonne fully upgraded
Protection
NBC Protected  Yes
Armor Type  Modular, composite
Active Protection Systems  Yes – Laser Warning
Crew
Commander Yes
Gunner Yes
Loader Yes
Driver Yes
Additional Crew
Troops Carried 6 Max

 

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