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Merkava Mk.2

Main battle tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

At the time of its introduction the Merkava Mk.2 was one of the most protected tanks in the world

Entered service 1983
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 60 t
Length (gun forward) 8.3 m
Hull length 7.45 m
Width 3.7 m
Height 2.65 m
Main gun 105-mm rifled
Machine guns 1 x 12.7-mm, 2 x 7.62-mm
Elevation range - 8.5 to + 20 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 62 rounds
Machine guns 2 500 x 12.7-mm, 10 000 x 7.62-mm rounds
Engine Teledyne Continental AVDS 1790-6A diesel
Engine power 908 hp
Maximum road speed 46 - 50 km/h
Range 500 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step 1 m
Trench 3 m
Fording 1.4 m


   The Merkava Mk.2 is an improved version of the previous Mk.1. This tank is named after a Biblical chariot. The Mk.2 has improved armor protection, new transmission, increased fuel storage, and some other improvements over its predecessor. Production of the Merkava Mk.2 commenced in 1983 and ceased in 1989. A total of 580 of these tanks were built. The Merkava Mk.2 saw action during a number of local wars, where it proved itself well. This tank is still in service, even though it is considered out-dated. It is planned that the last Mk.2 tank will be transferred to reserve units 2016. Currently most surviving tanks are kept in storage. It is planned that these may be converted to specialized armored vehicles. The Merkava Mk.2 was never exported outside Israel.

   The Merkava Mk.2 is a well-protected tank. At the time of its introduction it was among the most protected tanks in the world. It uses spaced armor and has improved armor protection comparing with its predecessor. The tank has unusual layout with a front-mounted engine for better crew protection. It reflects a unique requirements of Israeli MoD. The front-mounted engine provides additional protection for the crew in the back. Turret of the Merkava also has an unusual shape. Chains with metal balls were added at the turret rear of the Mk.2 for added protection against anti-tank guided missiles and RPG rounds. During tests this simple solution proved to be effective. The tank is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire extinguishing systems as standard.

   The tank is armed with a fully-stabilized 105-mm rifled gun. It is a license-produced version of the US M68 tank gun. This gun is loaded manually. Ammunition is stored in special protected containers. Each of them holds 4 rounds. It is loaded via a rear hatch. Up to 62 rounds can be carried, including APFSDS, HEAT, HE-FRAG, and smoke rounds. The Israeli M111 APFSDS round penetrates up to 150 mm of rolled homogenous armor at an angle of 60. Some sources report that this tank is compatible with Israeli LAHAT anti-tank guided missiles, that are launched in the same manner as ordinary rounds.

   The Merkava Mk.2 can carry up to 10 fully-equipped troops as passengers at the rear, instead of the ammunition. This unique feature is present on all Merkava variants. It allows to carry infantry into the battlefield, or evacuate casualties under heavy armor. Troops enter and leave the tank via a rear hatch.

   Secondary armament consists of a forward gun-mounted 12.7-mm machine gun. There are also two additional roof-mounted 7.62-mm machine guns. There is also a 60-mm mortar, which fires smoke, illumination or anti-personnel rounds. On the Merkava Mk.1 this mortar was mounted externally, while on the Mk.2 and later models, it is mounted internally and fired from within the turret.

   The Merkava Mk.2 has a fire control system with a digital computer and laser rangefinder. Some improvements were made to fire control system, such as updated sensors.

   This main battle tank is operated by a crew of 4, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.

   This MBT is powered by a Teledyne Continental AVDS 1790-6A air-cooled diesel engine, developing 908 hp. The same engine was also used on some other Israeli armored vehicles. It is mated to Israeli Ashot Ashkelon 4-speed automatic transmission. The previous Merkava Mk.1 used American Allison semi-automatic transmission. The Merkava Mk.2 also has increased fuel storage for increased range.

   The Merkava Mk.2 is slow due to its excessive weight, however the main emphasis of this tank was placed on crew protection rather than speed and mobility.




   Merkava Mk.2B is an upgraded version fitted with thermal optics.

   Merkava Mk.2C is an upgraded version with add-on armor on the top of the turret. It improves protection in urban combat against RPG rounds and anti-tank guided missiles, fired from the buildings, or other attacks form the air. Turret roof is typically the weakest point of any tank.

   Merkava Mk.2D is an upgraded version, fitted with the latest add-on modular composite armor. Add-on armor is similar to that of the Merkava Mk.4.

   Ofek heavy armored personnel carrier. It is based on the Merkava Mk.2 chassis. During conversion turret was removed and new superstructure was added. Prototype of the Ofek was first tested in 2015.

   Merkava Mk.3 is the successor to the Merkava Mk.2. It has the same layout but with improved protection, firepower and mobility. It was adopted in 1990. Production ceased in 2003 with a total of 780 tanks produced.

   Merkava Mk.4 it follows the lines of Merkava series. It has further improved protection, firepower and mobility. Currently the Mk.4 is one of the most protected tanks in the world.


Merkava Mk.2 tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

Merkava Mk.2 tank

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