Merkava Mk 4m Windbreaker, fitted with Trophy Active Protection, during Operation Protective Edge
Merkava Mk 4M Windbreaker, fitted with Trophy active protection system, during Operation Protective Edge 2014.
TypeMain battle tank
Place of originIsrael
Service history
In service1979–present[1]
Used byIsrael Defense Forces
Wars1982 Lebanon War, South Lebanon conflict, First Intifada, Second Intifada, 2006 Lebanon War, Gaza War, Operation Pillar of Defense, Operation Protective Edge
Production history
ManufacturerMANTAK/IDF Ordnance Corps (assembly)
Unit cost$3.5 million (Merkava IV) (for delivery to the IDF)[2]
$4.5 million (Merkava IV) (2014 price for sales to other countries)[3]
No. built
Mark I: 250
Mark II: 580
Mark III: 780
Mark IV: 360 in service + 300 units being delivered.[4]
Mass65 tonnes (143,000 pounds)
Length9.04 m or 29.7 ft (incl. gun barrel)
7.60 m or 24.9 ft (excl. gun barrel)
Width3.72 m or 12.2 ft (excl. skirts)
Height2.66 m or 8.7 ft (to turret roof)
Crew4 (commander, driver, gunner, and loader)
PassengersMaximum 6 passengers[5]

ArmorClassified composite/sloped armour modular design.
120 mm (4.7 in) MG253 smoothbore gun, capable of firing LAHAT ATGM
1 × 12.7 mm (0.50 in) MG
2 × 7.62 mm (0.300 in) MG
1 × Mk 19 grenade launcher
1 × 60 mm (2.4 in) internal mortar
12 smoke grenades
Engine1,500 hp (1,119 kW) turbocharged diesel engine
Power/weight23 hp/tonne
Payload capacity48 rounds
TransmissionRenk RK 325
SuspensionHelical spring
Ground clearance0.45 m (1.5 ft)
Fuel capacity1,400 litres
500 km (310 mi)
Speed64 km/h (40 mph) on road
55 km/h (34 mph) off road

The Merkava (Hebrew: מרכבה‎, [mɛʁkaˈva] (About this soundlisten), "chariot") is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1970,[6] and entered official service in 1979. Four main variants of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War. The name "Merkava" was derived from the IDF's initial development program name.

Design criteria include rapid repair of battle damage, survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance. Following the model of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, the turret assembly is located closer to the rear than in most main battle tanks. With the engine in front, this layout is intended to grant additional protection against a frontal attack, so as to absorb some of the force of incoming shells,[7] especially for the personnel in the main hull, such as the driver. It also creates more space in the rear of the tank that allows increased storage capacity and a rear entrance to the main crew compartment allowing easy access under enemy fire. This allows the tank to be used as a platform for medical disembarkation, a forward command and control station, and an infantry fighting vehicle. The rear entrance's clamshell-style doors provide overhead protection when off- and on-loading cargo and personnel.

It was reportedly decided shortly before the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon War that the Merkava line would be discontinued within four years.[8] However, on November 7, 2006, Haaretz reported that an Israeli General staff assessment had ruled of the Merkava Mark IV that "if properly deployed, the tank can provide its crew with better protection than in the past", and deferred the decision on discontinuing the line.[9] On August 16, 2013, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announced the decision to resume production of the Merkava main battle tank for the IDF Armored Corps.[10][11]


In 1965, Israel's military establishment began research and development on a domestically produced tank, the "Sabra"[12] (not to be confused with the later model of the same name now in service). Initially, Britain and Israel collaborated to adapt the United Kingdom's Chieftain tank that had entered British Army service in 1966.[13] However, in 1969, Britain decided not to sell the tank to Israel for political reasons.[14]

Israel Tal, who was serving as a brigade commander after the Suez Crisis, restarted plans to produce an Israeli-made tank, drawing on lessons from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Israeli forces were outnumbered by those of the Middle East's Arab nations.[14]

By 1974, initial designs were completed and prototypes were built. After a brief set of trials, work began to retool the Tel HaShomer ordnance depot for full-time development and construction. After the new facilities were completed, the Merkava was announced to the public in the International Defense Review periodical. The first official images of the tank were then released to the American periodical Armed Forces Journal on May 4, 1977. The first Merkava Mk. 1 tanks were supplied to the IDF in April 1979, nearly nine years after the decision to produce the Merkava Mk. 1 tank was taken. The IDF officially adopted the tank in December 1979.

Other Languages
العربية: ميركافا
azərbaycanca: Merkava
беларуская: Меркава
български: Меркава 4
català: Merkava
čeština: Merkava
dansk: Merkava
Deutsch: Merkava
eesti: Merkava
español: Merkava
Esperanto: Merkava
فارسی: مرکاوا
français: Merkava
한국어: 메르카바
հայերեն: Մերկավա
hrvatski: Merkava
italiano: Merkava
Basa Jawa: Merkava
ქართული: მერკავა
magyar: Merkava
Bahasa Melayu: Merkava
Nederlands: Merkava
norsk: Merkava
occitan: Merkava
polski: Merkawa
português: Merkava
română: Merkava
русский: Меркава
Simple English: Merkava
slovenčina: Merkava
slovenščina: Merkava
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Merkava
suomi: Merkava
svenska: Merkava
தமிழ்: மர்கவா
Türkçe: Merkava
українська: Меркава