The Israeli Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) recently unveiled the Barak, Israel’s new main battle tank, after five years of development. The first models, called “5th generation Merkava battle tanks,” were delivered to the 52nd Armored Battalion of the 401st Brigade.
The Barak tank is a joint venture between the Defense Ministry’s Armored Vehicles Directorate, the IDF’s Ground Forces and Armored Corps, and several Israeli defence firms including Elbit Systems, Rafael, and the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Elta subsidiary. Research into developing a new tank for the Armored Corps began in 2015, with development starting in 2018.
Initial tests were carried out in 2020, and the first tanks have been delivered to the IDF in recent months. The Barak tanks are equipped with reliable sensors to detect targets and intelligence information can be shared between the tank and other parts of the military, which will be a major asset on the battlefield.
The tank commander is equipped with a helmet developed by Elbit which gives them a full view of their surroundings and displays relevant information about ongoing fighting, similar to a fighter jet pilot’s helmet. The helmet enables 360-degree scanning, and artificial intelligence capabilities help locate targets in real time.
The Barak tanks also include an advanced missile defence system called the Windbreaker, which is currently deployed on older models of the Merkava tank and Namer armoured personnel carriers. The Windbreaker is made up of a radar detection system that spots incoming missiles and predicts their trajectories, and launchers that fire buckshot-like metal pellets, which cause the incoming missile or rocket to detonate away from the tank.
The Barak tank’s firepower has also received a significant upgrade, increasing the military’s lethality. The fire control system developed by Elbit enables accurate attacks while idle or in motion, day or night, with improved ranges. The tank has capabilities and means to close circles of fire between all the forces fighting on land and in the air, which reduces time and increases accuracy in battle.
According to Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the Barak tank was an extraordinary leap forward in the Armored Corps’ capabilities that guarantee the IDF’s qualitative advantage in defence and attack. The Merkava has been the IDF’s main battle tank since the 1980s, and the Barak will eventually become the Armored Corps’ main battle tank.