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Hundreds of Israel's older Merkava tanks will reportedly be sold to European countries

Israeli Defense Ministry report revealed last week that Israeli defense technology exports reached a record $12.5 billion in 2022

An IDF Merkava 4 tank, in the Golan Heights, May 21, 2023. (Photo: Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

The Jewish state will reportedly export hundreds of older models of its famous Merkava tanks to two foreign militaries including one anonymous European country. Merkava is considered one of the world’s best tanks and is uniquely designed to maximize the protection of the crew.

Yair Kulas, head of IDF’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate, revealed that the large deal, which involves, hundreds of old decommissioned Merkava 2 and Merkava 3 tanks from the 1980s and the 1990s is worth millions of shekels. 

“There is a potential of several hundred million shekels there. The world is chasing systems, and production processes require time, and not everyone has the time to wait,” said Kulas.

The Merkava tank, Hebrew for chariot, has been around since the 1970s and is the brainchild of Maj.-Gen. Israel Tal and engineer Yisrael Tiltan. Since entering service over 40 years ago, it has been the backbone of the Israel Defense Forces armored corps.

While two European countries slated to purchase the Merkava tanks are not explicitly named, some pundits speculate that Ukraine could be one of them.

Vastly outgunned and outnumbered by Russia, the Ukrainian military has been relying on tanks and other military equipment donated by Western nations including the U.S., Great Britain and Germany in the conflict.

However, the Jewish state has so far been unwilling to provide military equipment to Ukraine due to fear that it would harm the complex and delicate Russian-Israeli relations. In addition, Israel is concerned that such a move could undermine Israel’s freedom of military action in the Russian-controlled Syrian airspace.

 In a recent interview with the Israeli Calcalist news outlet, the IDF director Kulas hinted that Ukraine could, indeed, be one of the two countries that are expected to receive Merkava tanks.

“European countries are helping Ukraine and supplying it with systems. The stocks in those countries are being emptied, they are renewing them by purchasing more modern and up-to-date systems, and this is where Israeli industries come into the picture,” Kulas said.

The Israeli Defense Ministry report revealed last week that Israeli defense technology exports reached a record $12.5 billion in 2022.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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