The 65t Merkava 4 main battle tank entered full production in 2001 and began operational training with the Israel Defence Force in July 2003. The first battalion of Merkava Mk 4 tanks entered service with the Israel Defence Forces in 2004.
The Ministry of Defence plan to manufacture between 50 and 70 Merkava 4 tanks a year and up to 400 tanks may be manufactured in total, although budgetary constraints put these numbers in doubt. The Merkava 4 has been extensively improved including new armour protection and gun and electronics systems.
The Merkava 4 is slightly larger than the Merkava 3 Baz, which has been in service with the IDF since 1990. The Merkava 3 is offered for export by SIBAT based in Tel Aviv. The Merkava 4 is not offered for export but the systems and components are exported.
The tank is capable of carrying eight infantry soldiers, a command group or three litter patients (stretcher casualties) in addition to the tank crew of commander, loader, gunner and driver. The tank is capable of firing on the move at moving targets and has demonstrated high hit probability in firing against attack helicopters using conventional anti-tank munitions.
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