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
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
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.
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
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
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
|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|
|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|
|Length Gun Forward||9.04m|
|Width||3.7m (with out side skirts)|
|Weight||65 tonne fully upgraded|
|Armor Type||Modular, composite|
|Active Protection Systems||Yes – Laser Warning|
|Troops Carried||6 Max|