The Merkava Mark IV tank, currently used by the IDF's Armored Corps, is undergoing a series of improvements that will be seen on the battlefield in three years in the form of its successor tank—the Merkava Mark IV Barak.
The new tank will include advanced technology systems that are expected to make it more lethal, faster and more secure than the current Merkava Mark-4.
It will also be kitted with an artificial intelligence system that includes a smart task computer to integrate the various tasks being carried out by the tank’s systems.
The mission computer will be responsible for receiving all data from the operational network and tank systems, analyzing the information, and bringing it to the attention of the commander in accordance with the urgency and relevance of the information.
"In this way, the computer will reduce the burden on the crew members, improve the reliability of the system, pinpoint targets and improve the chances of hitting them," the IDF explained. “The Barak tank will also come with an improved cannon and commander’s gun sight."
The new tank will also be equipped with a series of sensors and new gear, such as the Iron Vision helmet, which will enable the fighters to maneuver in dense urban areas without removing their heads from the tank and exposing themselves to enemy fire, while enjoying a 360 degree view of their surroundings.
The internal operational qualities of the tank will also undergo an unprecedented technological facelift. With modern touch screens replacing the chunky switch pads, the work environment inside the tank will be more convenient and simple to operate for a generation unfamiliar with outdated buttons.
With advanced defense capabilities (an improved anti-missile Trophy system) and process automation, the tank will ease the burden on the crew by directing them according to mission urgency.
In addition to the new tank, the tradtional composition of an armored company will soon be changed with the addage of a tenth tank and an additional commanding officer to each company. Most of the tanks in the corps will be commanded by a commissioned officer.
The IDF noted that "this change allows for a greater impact on the battlefield as well as flexibility in broad operations. This change comes from the understanding that the future battlefield will require having more people with decision making abilities and a broad understanding of the operational environment."
Meanwhile, senior officers in the Armored Corps said that after last year’s ‘crisis of motivation’ to join the Armored Corps ranks, there has been an improvement among recent recruits who want to serve in tank brigades, owing to public relations efforts.
According to army figures, for every available spot in the Armored Corps, there is slightly more than one recruit competing for it. In the March 2018 draft, 83% of new recruits indicated that they wanted to serve in the Armored Corps, while in November 2016 the number was only 54%.
As part of the efforts to increase motivation, potential recruits were told about the many operational activities carried out by the tank units—even during relatively peaceful periods.
Since the beginning of the year, the Armored Corps has hit more than 20 terrorists in the Gaza Strip and destroyed about 30 terrorist infrastructure targets. These actions included the firing of 81 shells, the killing of 12 terrorists and the wounding of ten.