Budget constraints mean IDF using vulnerable APCs

Bardelas M-113  APC  picture: from Wikipedia

An anti-tank missile hit an outdated APC early this week, killing seven soldiers.

Only this morning did the IDF spokesman release for publication the names of the six Golani Brigade soldiers killed early Sunday morning when an APC (armored personnel carrier) was hit in the Saijiya battle. Particulars of the seventh soldier killed in the incident were released later, even though the process of identifying his body had not yet been completed, and he was officially classified as missing in action. The soldier's name, Oren Shaul from Poriyah, was cleared for publication around noon.

The Hamas military wing reported Sunday night that it had captured an Israeli soldier. The IDF spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the report, saying that the matter was being investigated. Military sources believe that an anti-tank missile hit an APC used by a Golani force operating in Sajiya that came under heavy fire. The US-made M-113 APC, which is called Bardelas in the IDF, is considered extremely outdated, having been first manufactured in the 1960s. It is made of a fairly light layer of aluminum in order to avoid a load that will affect its performance, which exposes it to a direct hit by the types of armaments that have appeared over the past decade in the theaters in which the IDF operates.

The APC, which carried nine soldiers, became immobile as a result of a malfunction. Two soldiers got out before it was hit by a deadly missile that killed the other seven crew members. At least three APCs of this type suffered serious hits from RPG rockets fired at them in the course of IDF operations in the Gaza Strip during the second intifada.

In early 2011, the Ministry of Defense announced a grandiose NIS 10 billion plan to procure many hundreds of new generation of APCS, called the Namer (Leopard), which is based on a Merkava tank chassis. The Tank Program Directorate, which is also leading the development and production of the Merkava tank on which Israeli armor is based, developed the Namer. The Ministry of Defense defined the Namer as an APC adapted to the most up-to-date forms of warfare on the battlefield, which provides a solution for the threats to which IDF forces were also exposed during the Second Lebanon War. The innovative APC's armor also has the Trrophy (In Hebrew "Meil Ruah" or "Windbreaker") active armor system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., that automatically intercepts anti-tank missiles and RPGs. The system is also installed on Mark IV Merkava tanks and upgraded earlier generation tanks.

When the Ministry of Defense announced a decision by a special ministerial committee to procure the Namer on a large scale, the IDF already had information that the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip possessed state-of-the-art Kornet and Metis-M anti-tank missiles.

Several months before the decision on large-scale Namer procurement, the Ministry of Defense decided to transfer production of the APC from Israel to the facilities of General Dynamics Corp. in the US. The ministry explained that Israel would carry out its procurement program for these weapons by using US aid to purchase APC parts, which would then be assembled in Israel. This would make possible a major expansion in the volume of procurement of these weapons for the IDF, and the US would carry out $200 million in reciprocal procurement from Israeli defense companies.

So how did the ministry announce a plan for large-scale procurement of the new armored APCs, and yet put outdated equipment into the field in Gaza, a decade after it was decided that these were unable to withstand the current threats? The ministry said in response, "Despite the Defense Ministry's demand over the years for continued procurement of the Namer, a measure made necessary by the threats on the various fronts, questionable criticism was levelled against the need for such a project. The deep and continued cut in the defense budget in recent years led to a substantial scaling back of the project, which prevented further procurement of this equipment."

The ministry added, "During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF is using all the armored equipment at its disposal. Unfortunately, the small number of Namers is not enough for all the infantry brigades now fighting in Gaza."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 22, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

Bardelas M-113  APC  picture: from Wikipedia
Bardelas M-113 APC picture: from Wikipedia
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