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11:57 AM, October 29, 2015
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Israeli Merkava Mk2 Tank

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is developing a new family of armored personnel carriers (APC)based on older Merkava Mk2 Tanks’ hulls to reduce cost.

The Merkava Mk.2 tanks have been phased out after seven Golani soldiers were killed after an APC was hit by an anti-tank missile in Gaza, Ynet reported Wednesday.

The new armored vehicle was first put to the test in a division-wide exercise that was held in the spring in the Jordan River valley.

The vehicle is based on a Merkava Mk.2, many of which have been phased out within the framework of the IDF's transition to the advanced Merkava Mk.4 tanks, which are now equipped with the "Trophy" active protection system. Rather than sending the tanks to junk yards, scrapping, or selling them to foreign militaries, the tanks were sent back to the military's repair yards at Tel Hashomer, the news website reported.

The tanks later underwent a thorough facelift; their cannons and turrets were removed, along with spaces used to store tank shells inside the hull. The result is a heavy armored personnel carrier, which outperforms the lighter M113 APC, which is currently in widespread use throughout the military.

The IDF plans to manufacture additional vehicles based on the hull of the Merkava Mk.2, of which hundreds have been phased out of active service. The military has placed an initial emphasis on supplying the vehicles to specific support forces, including medical, logistical, and rescue units.

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