Merkava IFV Namer

An Israeli Namer during wargames. The original Merkava chassis is evident.

 

Rear view of Namer, showing well protected drop ramp.

 

Infantry and crew seating inside a Namer.

 

Namer armed with a new remote-control turret. There two sighting systems, one on the LHS of the main gun, probably gunner’s and the other on top of the turret on RHS of the main gun being most probably the commander’s sighting system. The commander’s sight system seems to have independent traverse, indicating hunter-killer capability. The main gun seems to be a 30mm Orbital ATK Mk44. The turret has active protection system installed. On the front and rear sides, the Rafael Trophy Active Protection System radars are located and on the top of the side protrusions on each side, Trophy launchers and blast shields are located.

The Namer is an Israeli APC based on the Merkava MBT chassis. The Namer was developed by removing the turret and raising the vehicle roofline of the Merkava. While functioning as an APC the original survivability protection levels of the baseline vehicle were not compromised. This approach was selected due to the short distances that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are expected to operate within, and because of the severe threat situations that the IDF are expected to encounter. The result is both a very heavy and very well protected APC, comparable with the Russian T-15 APC (itself based on the T-14 MBT chassis). The Namer entered service with the IDF in 2008 at an average unit cost of $3 million US. There are 120 vehicles currently in operation with a total of 531 planned.

Namer, Hebrew for ‘Leopard’, is a 132,000 pound (60 tonne) vehicle that is operated by a crew of three, with a commander, driver and RCWS gunner, and which carries up to 9 dismounts. The vehicle is powered by an air cooled V12 1200 hp turbocharged diesel engine, delivering 18 hp/ton. The vehicle can achieve road speeds of 40 mph (60 km/h). The rear ramp of the Merkava was widened to accommodate the increased number of carried troops and troop hatches were added to the rear vehicle roof. The vehicles maintain the same Digital Battlefield Management System as the Merkava.

The Israelis developed an APC from a tank following disappointing results with lesser armored foreign built APCs and IFVs in the very hostile environment in which the IDF operate. Trialing the conversion of both Centurion tanks and T-55s into APC/IFVs and being impressed with the results the Israelis decided to convert retired Merkava Is into an APC. The conversions were deemed a success and so new Namer’s are being built on Merkava IV chassis.

WEAPON SYSTEMS

The Namer is armed with a Samson Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS). This system can be configured with either a .50 calibre M2 Browning Heavy Machinegun or an Mk 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher. The vehicle is also armed with a 7.62 mm FN MAG machine gun and a 60 mm mortar tube. An IFV version of the vehicle is under development which is armed with a 30 mm autocannon mounted in an unmanned turret. The vehicles are also under evaluation for being armed with a Spike ATGM.

PROTECTION SYSTEMS

Like the Merkava Mark IV, the Namer it is optimized for providing a very high level of crew survivability on the battlefield. The Add-on-Armor consists of a laminate of ceramics and steel-nickel alloy plates. Above this armor is an additional layer of ERA. Namer also integrates V-shaped belly armor to provide protection against mine blast and IEDs. The armor is actually said to offer more protection to the vehicle and crew than does the Merkava IV armor, as the weight saved by removal of the turret was added to vehicle protection systems. While originally intended to field the new Iron Fist Active Protection System (APS), due to budget restraints Namer’s are being equipped with the older Trophy APS.

COMBAT EXPERIENCE

The Namer APC saw combat during both the 2008 Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead) and the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict (Operation Protective Edge), with 2 vehicles participating in the former and more than 20 in the later. Despite not being equipped at the time with an APS system the Namer’s were struck on multiple occasions with RPGs and ATGMs without incurring any serious damage to the vehicles and with armor penetration or crew injuries reported. The IDF consider the vehicles to have performed excellently during these conflicts and requested that additional vehicles be put on order.

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