An Israeli vision of a future tracked armored vehicle

There’s much speculation about the future of main battle tanks in particular, and tracked armored vehicles in general.  The USA is embarking upon a further upgrade of the M1 Abrams series, the M1A2 SEP v.3, with the SEP v.4 to follow in the 2020’s.  Russia has unveiled the T-14 Armata, a main battle tank that will be accompanied by a series of other armored vehicles built on the same platform.

Israel has been working on a successor to its Merkava series tanks for some time.  Here’s a video simulation, showing what it calls the Carmel tank project.  It’s still a concept, and doesn’t even exist in prototype form yet, but shows how that country is thinking about the future of main battle tanks and armored fighting vehicles.  It’s rather different to US and Russian thinking on the subject.

Intriguing!  One wonders if it will see the light of day.  I guess time will tell.



  1. Two man crews are efficient in manpower and decent for scouting, but not great for actual combat. The driver drives, the gunner guns, but you need a commander to pay attention to the big picture and decide what to do next. Not to mention answering the @#$% radio when the higher levels keep calling and asking for information and updates. And helping to break track and stand watch is a lot easier with three than two.

  2. And all you need is a determined geek with a computer to disable it and/or take over the controls. The first rule of computer programing is, whatever you can do, someone else can undo.

  3. It looks like a nice promotional vehicle, but as with the others I don't think a crew of only 2 is feasible except in VERY short wars; there is too much that needs done for only 2 people.
    Additionally, I am doubtful that a 35 ton vehicle can provide MBT levels of protection even with an active protection system; the Bradley started life at less than 20 tons and has grown over time past 30 and is still considered too vulnerable for some situations.
    To misquote an old aphorism, I'll believe the Carmel when I see it!

  4. Two-Person crew…plus, One Commander – take another look, there are THREE helmeted heads in that vehicle interior…

  5. I can see it.
    For Israel.

    That second part is a pretty important caveat. They need to be able to lock down the Golan, prevent crossings of the Jordan, and engage in maneuver warfare on the Sinai against armies mainly equipped with old vehicles and man-portable weapon systems with a significant advantage in numbers. If they're even called on to face a MBT it'll most likely be an indifferently maintained T-55, crewed by unprofessional troops, attacking in an uncoordinated fashion.
    More, lighter vehicles working in packs offers a lot more utility, flexibility and redundancy in this particular case.

  6. I'm even more impressed that the crew seem to do everything with their eyes closed …

    There are several things about it I question:

    All an enemy needs do is wait until it passes and shoot it through the rear armour (likely to be thinner and less well protected than the frontal armour)

    Batteries – if a command detonated device explodes under the vehicle, then the batteries will provide excellent ballistic lumps to kill or injure the crew (even if the belly armour is not penetrated). The cost of a non lead-acid type will be prohibitive. I hope the crew uniform is acid proof. Plus maintaining the batteries is a PITA. Ask me how I know that …

    No heavy calibre gun. In a tank to tank fight, he who punches hardest and first usually wins. The sloped glacis plate will direct any frontal shot under the vehicle and you will get a similar situation as described above.

    The workload on a two man crew will be high and in an urban situation, especially, will overwhelm them. The French, British and others learned this the hard way at the beginning of WW2 with driver and commander/loader/gunner/radio operataor crew.

    Some good features but as the Germans learned with their sophisticated Tiger and Panther, quantity in the form of the simple T34 tends to beat the technological superiority of a complex vehicle. Syria might have "obsolete" T55's but they have a lot of them and quite cheap too. Plus they have heavier main armament and a hit from the T55 will derange the sophisticated electronics,cameras etc. You don't have to penetrate the armour to disable a tank. The Afghans did it by jumping on the Russian tanks and smearing their crap over the vision ports.

    I'd be interested to see the final form of the tank and how it differs from the Merkava which was based on the lessons learned from their previous wars.

    Phil B

  7. Interesting that the video shows a lot of recoil from the rocket launcher, and none from the main gun, in that urban combat scene.
    I'm not convinced that the cost of a modern type of battery would be out of line. This isn't meant to be a fully electric vehicle, so the battery just needs to store enough energy to help out with peak demand, and maybe to allow a brief period of quiet operation.
    Yes, the chemicals from the destruction of any plausible sort of battery will be nasty. As long as they're kept on the outside of the armored crew pod, this shouldn't be too much of a problem – if the crew pod armor is breached, you've got bigger problems than battery contents.
    Overall, it sounds like a neat concept. Technically, the promotional vid seems to be overstating the case, but maybe not by much (except for some aspects that are presented as PFM). Militarily, I have little clue.

  8. It appears to substitute anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) for heavy cannon – a nice idea, but it runs into practical problems. The actual kill ratios for ATGMs are pretty low when you list the total shots vs vehicle kills. In their last foray into Lebanon, the IDF took 120+ hits from the latest Russian ATGMs and lost 4 tank commanders and zero vehicles killed!

    It would require an order-of-magnitude improvement in ATGM tech to come close to the kill ratios for guns – but if anybody can do it, the IDF will do it first

    This looks like a technology demonstrator for every advanced system they have in development and not a fieldable weapon system.

    Sure looks cool, though.

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