The Merkava Mk IV is Israel’s latest in the line of the vehicle series to be built. The design was to take the lessons learned from the three previous editions of the tank series and culminate it into a design for future armored operations that would serve the Israeli Army for decades to come. Conceived back in the late 1990’s by the Israeli Army, it looked improve upon operations in urban combat, as well as improve upon the successful design of the Merkava III series. Focus on the latest evolution of the series can be divided into three main categories; survivability, communications and modular growth.
The Israeli Army elected to focus on these three main categories due to their assessment of the current and future operational environment in relation to their national defense strategies. The operational environment that the Israeli Army executes in, requires them to deploy defensively, absorb any attack, and then counter attack to regain the initiative. Additionally, the distinct likelihood of operating in restrictive terrain, as well as urban terrain, required Israel to upgrade their tanks to focus on threats that could take advantage of the operational complexities found in urban centers. This led to upgrades such as Active Protective Systems, integrated battle management systems and software updates that mitigates counter mobility efforts (IEDs), anti-armor ambushes utilizing urban areas to reduce chances of detection and mitigation of collateral damage and reduced situational awareness when operating in restrictive environments. Capitalizing on the modular design of the Merkava series, production was carried out, starting in 2004/5 with follow on improvements such as the Barak variant later to come next few years.