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By Arie Egozi
The initial results of operating the Israeli-made Eitan APC will soon be translated to some upgrades of this very advanced combat vehicle.
The new advanced Eitan 8×8 APC officially entered active service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) infantry units some weeks ago.
A number of the APCs already participated in an infantry exercise of the IDF Nahal infantry brigade.
According to the Ministry of Defense and the IDF, the Eitan is the most advanced 8X8 APC currently operational.
IDF sources said that in the coming months, based on the feedback from the units, the new APC will be better “tailored” to its planned missions. This will include new sensors and new weapon systems.
The Eitan has improved firepower by carrying the RAFAEL Spike LR anti-tank missiles, and improved protection by carrying the Elbit systems Iron Fist active protection system.
The operational need for an 8×8 APC was realized especially after the Protective Edge operation in 2014. During this operation, the IDF used the small inventory of the Israeli-made tracked NAMER and old M-113. To increase the protection level of the old M-113 they were loaded with sand sacks.
According to the IDF, the Eitan can travel at speeds of 55 Miles/h and that gives it a major advantage when forces have to be transferred from one battle area to the other.
Eitan is powered by a 750 hp heavy fuel engine. Four of the eight wheels are steerable, enabling the vehicle to take tight turns, and maneuver in narrow roads of urban areas and off-road.
The Eitan is 26 feet long and 10 feet wide. It weighs 30 tons and this weight includes the ballistic armor and the active armor systems. The prototypes carry different sensors that provide the three men crew with real-time situational awareness.
The basic turreted Eitan platform is likely to be used for moving infantry in the battlefield, command and scout roles, while the turretless variant will be used to support specific configurations including weapon carriers (mortars etc.), combat engineering, recovery and casualty evacuation.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense is the main contractor of the Merkava 4, Namer and now of the Eitan.
The directorate uses some 200 Israeli and American subcontractors.
The Eitan has a remotely operated weapon station with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and an ATK 30mm automatic cannon.
It will also be equipped with smoke dischargers and integral 60mm mortar, providing indirect fire capability, that includes high explosives, illumination, and smoke effects.
The IDF is evaluating equipping the Eitan with anti-tank missiles like the Spike LR made by RAFAEL that has a range of 2.5 miles.
Arie Egozi, iHLS Editor-in-Chief