The story of its creation is inseparably linked with the name of the famous Israeli General Yisrael tanker (Talika) Tal. General Tal is considered the founding father of the IDF armored forces, under the command of his tank crew constantly seek victory on the battlefield in all the wars of Israel. His portrait is in the hall of tank commanders majestically in the center tank of U.S. troops after General Patton at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Israel Tal was born in 1924 in Eretz Yisrael in a family of immigrants from Russia. Military service began in 1942, when together with many young Zionists voluntarily joined the British army liberated Europe from the Nazis. The war for Israel's independence marked the beginning of a military career in the IDF Tal. He fought a war in the infantry and tank units, was chief officer courses, during the Sinai Campaign was appointed deputy commander of the Tank Corps and the commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade. In the Six Day War, commanded the 162nd Armored Division. War of 1973, General Tal met with the rank of Chief of Operations and Deputy Chief of Staff, at its final stages commanded the southern front.
Analyzing the results of tank battles of the Sinai Campaign and the Six Day War, Gen. Tal concluded that none of the tanks, whether English or South American M48 Centurion, does not meet the requirements of the Israeli armored doctrine. The Israeli army was in need of a fully-date battle car, a lot of the respective theater of war and combat experience of Israeli soldiers.
The project is the creation of a new Israeli tank was approved in August 1970 and charged a group of officers-tank under the General Tal. The main focus, along with the firepower and maneuverability, was placed on the highest protection of crew members: even if the tank is completely incapacitated, the crew must survive. Statistics showed that in the case of detonation of ammunition crew usually died. Means the most to be covered by armor crew and ammunition.
Israeli tank fundamentally different in the assembly of all zabugornyh machines built according to the traditional scheme for the first time applied the French tank designers (Reno FT-17, 1916) — front office management, in the center — combat, behind — the engine-transmission compartment. At an Israeli tank engine is placed in front, serving as a kind of additional protection of the crew, because in the frontal projection gets most of the shells.
Design was carried out the highest rate, despite the fact that initially it was attended by only 35 people. All the red tape could be reduced to a minimum in almost all due to the very close cooperation and Tal and military planners.
Israeli tank industry created quickly, for today in the project employed more than 200 Israeli industrial companies that produce most of the components of the tank — from steel armor and artillery to ultra-precise electrical and computer equipment.
Implementation of General Tal thoughts facilitated the creation of the heavy (63 tons) of the machine with a strong armor protection in the front of the fighting compartment and spacious. The fighting compartment used for transporting troops and equipment, provide evacuation from the battlefield the wounded. Great attention is paid to the convenience of the tank. The designers started from the postulate of "tank — it's carriage house in time of war." Tal proposed the concept of day and night use of the tank, why provided accommodation 2-crew in one machine — one is resting, the other is at war.
The fight, which was not
Newcomer tank Gen. Tal gave the title "Merkava" ("chariots"). This word comes from the Tanakh, it is mentioned in the first chapter books of Ezekiel as a sign of movement, strength and sustainable foundation.
For the first time information about the fact that Israel is developing a new tank, appeared in 1972, and in the spring of 1977, the Israeli television showed a novelty, then the images are made from the screen tele, bypassed pages of many military publications. At the same time there is information on the production test batch of 40 vehicles. In October 1978, the first tank Merkava Mk1 was officially handed over to the army. The command of one of the first battalions manned by "Merkava", adopted son of General Tal. The official presentation of the tank was accomplished during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the tank Plant of the Israeli military industrial company Israel Military Industries.
Since then, the project Merkava without annoying improved, with assembly lines Israeli factories went for four generations tanks — Merkava MK4 adopted in 2004
Israeli designers in every brand-new generation of tank Merkava embody completely new and revolutionary ideas in tank: the body is made a single cast, "modular armor" attached special bolts. The principle of "active armor" for the first time in the world realized in the Merkava tank. Tank equip one hundred percent computerized control system, developed by an unusual technology and unparalleled in the world.
The operation in Lebanon in the summer of last year again proved the highest fighting properties Merkava tank. Hezbollah militants fired at Israeli tanks, about 1,
000 rockets Russian production, damaged 52 tanks from penetrating their 22 cars were damaged in the main modifications of old times (Merkava Mk2 and Merkava MK3, produced 1980). Irretrievably lost only 5 cars. Most of the warped tanks returned to service after repairs still in the process of operation in Lebanon.
This statistic says that the tanks "Merkava" kitted out with modern means of protection, especially last modified Mk-4, fully coped with the missile threat — the effectiveness of Israeli tanks fired at Russian anti-tank and ATGM in terms of destroyed tanks amounted to only 0.5 %.
The losses in the tanks during the fighting in Lebanon have been painstakingly analyzed command. The IDF will be the world's first army that will equip all production tanks Merkava MK4 system of active protection meil Ruah ("Air cloak"), developed by the Israeli military industry concern RAFAEL project-based Trophy.
Active Protection System armor and acoustic sniper detection Trophy was held countless tests and refinement over the last 10 years and the current time is considered the most efficient in the world. It is designed for the destruction of missiles and projectiles in flight, forms an invisible shield around the tank, automatically detecting and destroying everything that moved in his direction.
83-year-old General Tal as before in the ranks. After retiring, he was appointed advisor to the Chief of Staff and a leading professional military industries in Israel. All over the world tank is highly regarded world-Israeli "tank guru."