Special Report

The Oldest and Newest Armored Vehicles in the Modern Israeli Military

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

As the Israel-Hamas war continues, Israel is calling up its reserves. This is in response to the deadly assault by the terrorist group Hamas on Oct. 7 that left over 1,400 Israelis dead. Hamas has also taken over 200 people hostage, from infants to octogenarians. Even though Israel might only have a population of roughly 9 million, and a total active military personnel of about 650,000, its available manpower for military service is more than one-third of its population. Combined, these troops will be filling a series of roles, including infantry, medics, pilots, and captaining military vehicles.

A military operation in Gaza without tanks or armored personnel would be even more costly for the Israelis, which is why they employ a range of vehicles and tanks specifically designed for urban environments. In terms of its land forces, Global FirePower ranks Israel within the top 20 nations in the world for tanks, military vehicles, and self-propelled artillery. As such, Israel is a formidable opponent in a land war. (These are the countries with the most artillery.)

To identify the armored vehicles in the modern Israeli military, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a catalog of armored vehicles from Military Factory. We ordered these vehicles according to when they entered service. We included supplemental data from Military Factory regarding the year introduced, type, country of origin, manufacturer, weight, top speed, and armament of each vehicle.

Many of the Israeli vehicles that are currently in use first entered the service in the 1980s and earlier. However, over the years, they have been upgraded and retooled to play different roles.

The Merkava (Chariot) has made a name for itself as Israel’s main battle tank, first introduced to the service in 1979. While it has been in service for just shy of half a century, there have been numerous iterations and upgrades over these long years. The newest model is the Barak, which is outfitted with a 120mm main gun as well as 12.7mm and 7.62mm machine guns. (These are the countries with the most tanks in 2023.)

The distinguishing feature of the Merkava is its forward mounted engine, which is an anomaly compared to most modern tanks. In this case, the engine acts as additional armor to protect the tank crew from a direct frontal hit. The modern Merkava tops out around 40 mph.

Israel is known for repurposing and reinventing its military vehicles for multiple roles. In fact, the Merkava chassis is used as an armored ambulance or “Tankbulance.” The M4 Sherman tank that draws its roots from World War II has also seen use by Israeli forces. The chassis for the M4 Sherman provides a basis for the Soltam M-68 howitzer as well as other guns within the Israeli arsenal. These variants of the M4 range in names but some of the most predominant are the Ro’em, MAR-240, and L-39.

Here is a look at the oldest and newest Israeli armored vehicles.

26. M4 Sherman (Ro’em and MAR-240 variants)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Year introduced: 1942
  • Type: Medium tank
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: State Factories
  • Weight: 31.3 tons base model (other variants are different)
  • Top speed: 24 mph
  • Armament: Various main guns and optional setups depending on the model including, .50 BMG Browning M2 anti-aircraft machine gun, .30-06 coaxial machine gun, .30-06 bow-mounted machine gun

25. UNIMOG (Universal-Motor-Gerat)

  • Year introduced: 1947
  • Type: 4×4 utility truck
  • Country of origin: Germany
  • Manufacturer: Mercedes-Benz
  • Weight: 4.9 tons
  • Top speed: 50 mph
  • Armament: None

24. M35 / G742 (Deuce and a Half)

Source: Roberto Galan / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1951
  • Type: Multi-purpose medium-class military tank
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: AM General / Kia
  • Weight: 6.5 tons
  • Top speed: 55 mph
  • Armament: 12.7mm M2 Browning heavy machine gun, 7.62mm M60 machine gun, 40mm M79 grenade launcher, XM134 minigun, Oerlikon 20mm autocannon

23. M113 APC

Source: mtcurado / iStock via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1960
  • Type: Tracked armored personnel carrier
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: FMC Corporation / United Defense
  • Weight: 12.5 tons
  • Top speed: 38 mph
  • Armament: 12.7mm M2 Browning heavy machine gun, smoke grenades, 7.62mm machine gun, 20mm or 25mm autocannon, TOW/TOW-2 anti-tank guided missiles

22. M60 (Patton)

Source: FuzzMartin / iStock via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1960
  • Type: Main battle tank
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: General Dynamics
  • Weight: 53.7 tons
  • Top speed: 30 mph
  • Armament: 105mm M68 main gun, 7.62mm M73 coaxial machine gun, 12.7mm M85 anti-aircraft heavy machine gun, smoke grenade dischargers

21. M88 Hercules

  • Year introduced: 1961
  • Type: Armored recovery vehicle
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: United Defense
  • Weight: 77.2 tons
  • Top speed: 25 mph
  • Armament: 12.7mm Browning M2 heavy machine gun, smoke grenade dischargers

20. M109 (Paladin)

Source: Jesse Stephens / iStock via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1963
  • Type: 155mm self-propelled artillery
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: United Defense LP / General Motors
  • Weight: 31.8 tons
  • Top speed: 40 mph
  • Armament: 155mm M284 howitzer main gun, 12.7mm M2 Browning anti-aircraft heavy machine gun

19. M60 AVLB

Source: mtcurado / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1967
  • Type: Armored vehicle launched bridge
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: General Dynamics
  • Weight: 58 tons
  • Top speed: 30 mph
  • Armament: None

18. Magach (M48/M60)

Source: svarshik / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1968
  • Type: Main battle tank
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Israeli Ordnance Corps
  • Weight: 54 tons
  • Top speed: 34 mph
  • Armament: 105mm M68 main gun, 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 7.62mm machine guns, smoke grenade dischargers

17. Soltam M-68

  • Year introduced: 1970
  • Type: 155mm towed field howitzer
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Soltam Systems
  • Weight: 10.5 tons
  • Top speed: Towed-system mph
  • Armament: 155mm main gun

16. Sho’t (Whip)

  • Year introduced: 1970
  • Type: Main battle tank
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: State Factories
  • Weight: 62.8 tons
  • Top speed: 30 mph
  • Armament: 105mm L7 rifled main gun, 12.7mm anti-aircraft heavy machine gun, 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, smoke grenade dischargers

15. Zelda (M113)

  • Year introduced: 1973
  • Type: Armored personnel carrier
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: State Factories
  • Weight: 13.8 tons
  • Top speed: 38 mph
  • Armament: 12.7mm Browning heavy machine gun, 7.62mm medium machine guns

14. Soltam M-71

  • Year introduced: 1975
  • Type: 155 towed howitzer
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Soltam Systems
  • Weight: 10.1 tons
  • Top speed: Towed-system mph
  • Armament: 155mm main gun

13. Nagmachon

  • Year introduced: 1977
  • Type: Heavy infantry fighting vehicle
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: State Factories
  • Weight: 57.3 tons
  • Top speed: 19 mph
  • Armament: 7.62mm FN MAG general purpose machine guns

12. Merkava (Chariot)

Source: Wirestock / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1979
  • Type: Main battle tank
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Israeli Ordnance Corps
  • Weight: 66.1 tons
  • Top speed: 29 mph
  • Armament: 120mm main gun, 7.62mm co-axial machine gun, 12.7mm anti-air machine gun, 60mm mortar launcher, smoke grenade launchers

11. HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck)

Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1982
  • Type: Heavy-class military vehicle
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: Oshkosh Defense
  • Weight: 22 tons
  • Top speed: 62 mph
  • Armament: None

10. LAR-160

  • Year introduced: 1983
  • Type: Multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) vehicle
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Israel Military Industries
  • Weight: 13 tons
  • Top speed: 34 mph
  • Armament: 160mm rockets

9. M270 MLRS

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Year introduced: 1983
  • Type: Multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) vehicle
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin Vought
  • Weight: 30.9 tons
  • Top speed: 40 mph
  • Armament: 227mm solid-fuel rockets / missiles

8. Puma CEV

  • Year introduced: 1984
  • Type: Tracked combat engineering vehicle
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: IDF Ordnance
  • Weight: 55.1 tons
  • Top speed: 27 mph
  • Armament: 7.62mm machine guns, 60mm mortar, 20-shot rocket launcher, smoke grenade launchers

7. HMMWV (Humvee)

Source: Rockfinder / E+ via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1985
  • Type: 4×4 high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: AM General / O’Gara-Hess and Eisenhardt
  • Weight: 2.6 tons
  • Top speed: 65 mph
  • Armament: 40mm MK19 grenade launcher, 12.7mm Browning M2HB heavy machine gun, 7.62mm M60 machine gun, 7.62mm M240B machine gun, TOW-2B anti-tank guided-missile launcher

6. Pereh

Source: IDF Spokesperson's Unit / Wikimedia Commons
  • Year introduced: 1985
  • Type: Anti-tank guided missile carrier
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Local Industry
  • Weight: 54 tons
  • Top speed: 34 mph
  • Armament: Spike non-line-of-sight anti-tank guided missiles

5. Achzarit (Cruel) HAPC

  • Year introduced: 1988
  • Type: Heavy armored personnel carrier
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Israel Ordnance Corps
  • Weight: 48.5 tons
  • Top speed: 40 mph
  • Armament: 7.62mm medium machine guns

4. FMTV (Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles)

Source: viper-zero / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Year introduced: 1996
  • Type: Tactical medium-class military truck
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: Stewart & Stevenson
  • Weight: 12.5 tons
  • Top speed: 59 mph
  • Armament: Dependent on the model. Normally limited to self-defense

3. Soltam ATMOS 2000

  • Year introduced: 2001
  • Type: 6×6 wheeled self-propelled howitzer
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Soltam Systems
  • Weight: 24.3 tons
  • Top speed: 50 mph
  • Armament: 150mm main gun

2. Hatehof Wolf

  • Year introduced: 2005
  • Type: Multi-mission 4×4 light armored vehicle
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: Hatehof Ltd / Rafael Advanced Defence Systems
  • Weight: 9.5 tons
  • Top speed: 81 mph
  • Armament: Optional .50 BMG heavy machine gun

1. Merkava Namer (Leopard)

  • Year introduced: 2008
  • Type: Heavy infantry fighting vehicle
  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Manufacturer: IDF Ordnance
  • Weight: 66.1 tons
  • Top speed: 37 mph
  • Armament: 12.7mm Browning M2 heavy machine gun, 40mm Mk19 automatic grenade launcher, 7.62mm machine gun, 60mm mortar, smoke grenade dischargers

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