Jerusalem (Tzvi Lev/TPS) – The Defense Ministry unveiled its new armored personnel carrier (APC) on Monday, called the ‘Eitan.’ The new brand is meant to eventually replace Israel’s aging fleet of M113 APCs that have been in use until now.
According to Brigadier-General Baruch Matzliach, head of the Defense Ministry’s tank development program, the decision to develop a new APC was the result of lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014. “We need to make the infantry more mobile, and to add another APC in addition to the Namer.”
The Namer (‘tiger’ in Hebrew) and the Achzarit (‘cruel’ in Hebrew) are the other Israeli-developed armored vehicles in the IDF arsenal.
Until now the IDF has been using the M113 from the Vietnam War era as its primary APC. Having first arrived in Israel in 1973, its light armor has occasionally transformed the vehicle into a death trap during battle. A notable example is an incident during Operation Protective Edge in which seven soldiers from the Golani Brigade were killed when a missile hit their M113 and turned it into a fiery inferno. The resulting public outcry against the M113 caused the IDF to look into other options.
“The Eitan is a multi purpose vehicle, it is meant for many diverse missions and its manufacturing and maintenance costs are low,” read a statement by the Defense Ministry.
The Eitan uses the chassis of a Merkava, Israel’s main battle tank. It is the first Israeli APC to be mounted on wheels, as both the Namer and the Achzarit operate on tank treads. It can hold up to 12 soldiers, runs on 750 horsepower, and can hit a top speed of 90 kilometers per hour. It is also equipped with the advanced Trophy defense system, which intercepts and destroys incoming missiles before they hit the vehicle itself.