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Israel lightens up: Will replace heavy tanks with versatile light armored vehicles

Special to WorldTribune.com

TEL AVIV — Israel has been arranging for the development of light
armored vehicles designed for rapid-response and urban warfare.

Officials said the Defense Ministry was laying the groundwork for a
development program of a family of LAVs. They said the proposed Rakiya-class
vehicles would contain sufficient armor and weapons for urban and
conventional military missions.

Israel’s Merkava Mk-4 main battle tank.

“This is a long-term development program, and its progress would depend on budget availability,” an official said. “The project would assemble a range of configurations for light armored vehicles.”

The program was drafted in 2012 amid a debate within the Israeli military over whether to proceed with armored combat vehicle production, particularly the new Namer. The military’s budget shortfall has also hampered plans to enhance and produce the Merkava-class main battle tank.

Officials said Rakiya, the Hebrew acronym of the Future Manned Combat Vehicle, would replace the Merkava Mk-4, which at 65 tons was regarded as too heavy for anything but conventional military missions. Instead, Rakiya, reflected an effort by the Israel Army’s Armored Corps for a highly mobile armored combat vehicle designed for multiple roles.

Rakiya, envisioned at 35 tons, was meant to be developed and produced by
2020. Officials said the project would await the approval of requirements
for future LAVs, expected to take place by 2014.

At that point, officials said, the Defense Ministry would solicit
designs and concepts from Israeli and U.S. companies.

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