"The borders are drawn where the treads stop."
- – IDF Armored Corps Motto
The Merkava was a third generation MBT designed to replace the ageing Magach 6. It is equipped with a licensed M68 105mm main cannon: the same gun as found on the M60 Patton, one to two turret-mounted FN MAGs, with one browning .50 cal mounted coaxially. A uniquely Israeli invention, the Merkava compromises on battlefield survivability and speed in favour of armour and crew survivability.
In Team Yankee
Do you like tanks? This thing a tanky tank.
The Merkava comes in two flavours, the Mk.1 and the Mk.2. Both come with a 105mm cannon, while the Mk.2 stacks on even more armour on this thing.
Here's the thing: this is a terrible tank against both NATO and Pact forces: with a 105mm gun for AT19, you'll have an almost negligible chance when trying to punch through T-64s and literally all shots will put nice dents on the armor of an M1IP Abrams. Conversely, your armour is less of an issue for high-end tanks with AT22 like the Chieftain and the T-64. Fortunately, they do come with Brutal and excel in a combined arms role where they can attack the weakest points in the enemy line while your ATGMs focus on taking down the deadliest tanks your opponents have.
The Mk.1 is a very heavily armoured beast with tiny arms. With front armour 18 and bazooka skirts with side armour 6, the Mk.1 needs to be focused down with ATGMs to reliably take out. It might have decent firepower against infantry, but lacks the advanced stabilizers of modern tanks. The Mk.2 ups the armour to a front armour 19, and side armour 7 and BDD armour. It will lose a tank fight most of the time, but will absorb quite a few missiles before going down and the low cost lets you bring quite a few of them.
Interestingly, the Mk.2 almost seems tailor-made to counter Milan spam. With Brutal ROF2 on the move and 2+ to defeat AT21 weapons, you should expect a unit of these to wreak havoc against British and French Milan spam. It may not have the anti-tank capability of the Chieftain or the T-72, but is likely to become a staple unit in the current Milan-heavy meta.
Adding on to the combined arms approach of the Merkava, it can fire 4 shots at infantry in the open much like the M1 Abrams.
A Mk.1 costs 6 points per tank, coming in platoons of 2-3, while the Mk.2 costs 7 points apiece.
Vs the M1IP: Worse side armor, same frontal. Worse AT on the main cannon, but brutal, accurate over M1IP. MGs will spit more lead and the .50 will deal more damage to any light vehicles. Slower, worse cross. Much better points cost, if you can keep front to the enemy, it's the same wall o steel that the IP gives but with less cost, and an infantry shredding main cannon.
While America was screwing around in Vietnam, the Israelis were researching how their tanks could lose against the ATGM spam of three other nations. Concluding that helicopters were sitting ducks in the desert environment, the Israelis decided that the tank would be the one doing the most fighting in their battles. So, rather than waiting for the Cold War to advance weapons technology at a snail's pace, the Israelis decided to design their own Main Battle Tank.
As Israel's homegrown tank, the Merkava takes many liberties with conventional tank design. For starters, instead of having the driver in the front, turret in the middle, and engine in the back, the Merkava places the engine forward to act as an extra buffer against shrapnel, leaving the back available for a rear entrance for emergency exits. This configuration made it easier to preserve the far more valuable crew: tanks were replaceable, but experienced tankees were not. With the standard ammo complement, a Merkava could house up to 4 additional troops if absolutely required.
In a pinch, they were even used as APCs and medical evac units if ammo racks were significantly reduced, giving space for up to six men and their equipment: eight to ten if ALL ammo racks were thrown out. Depending on the mission requirements, some Merkavas were even converted into impromptu mortar carriers as in the first and second Intifadas. Uniquely, this is one of the few non-Soviet tanks designed to fire ATGMs.
The Merkava served well against enemy T-62s and was largely immune to infantry AT weapons at the time, though later Merkava models were upgraded to use the advanced Trophy active defense system. In 2008, the IDF introduced a dedicated APC based on the Merkava called the Namer. The modern design is the Merkava IV, which features a 120mm gun and modular armour plating for faster repairs. Today, the IDF is working on the 'Barak' upgrade package which will give tank commanders the same type of helmet as that seen in the F-35, allowing them to easily see outside the vehicle without popping their heads outside. It also improves on existing battlefield communication systems and installs a modified baseball machine to fire projectiles at incoming missiles.
In the meantime, the Israel military and defense industry have decided to not rest on their laurels. Despite having one of the best tanks in the world, they are already designing a supplement and eventual replacement called the Carmel. Since normal shells would be less effective, they plan to give it a 40-76mm autocannon that is able to load HEAT and HESH rounds, or use railguns or direct energy weapons. Do take it with a grain of salt, as, well... It's presentation trailer is making it look like it's made of Unobtanium and powered by unicorn farts or something.
|Israeli Forces in Team Yankee|
|Tanks:||Merkava - M60 Patton|
|Transports:||M113 Armored Personnel Carrier|
|Troops:||IDF Infantry Platoon|
|Artillery:||M109 Howitzer -M106 Heavy Mortar Carrier -M125 Mortar Carrier|
|Anti-Aircraft:||M163 VADS - ZSU 23-4 Shilka - M48 Chaparral - Redeye SAM Platoon|
|Tank Hunters:||Pereh - M150 TOW - Jeep TOW|
|Recon:||M113 Recce - Jeep Recce|
|Aircraft:||AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter - A4 Skyhawk|