The Ministry of Defense has signed an agreement with US company General Dynamics for the purchase of kits and chasses for the production of innovative Namer armored personnel carriers (APCs) for use by IDF ground forces.
The $310 million (NIS 1.2 billion) order sent to the US company in the past few days is for six years, during which the Ministry of Defense intends to significantly increase the number of advanced APCs for its combat brigades.
The APCs will be equipped with the WindGuard defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. designed to provide protection against RPG rockets and advanced anti-tank missiles. The Ministry of Defense today explained that the decision to expand production of the APCs resulted from the lessons learned in Operation Protective Edge. The IDF was severely criticized during the operation for using outdated and unprotected M-113 APCs in the Golani Brigade's battles in Sejiya. An anti-tank missile fired at an APC in those battles caused the death of seven soldiers.
The Ministry of Defense explained that procurement of hundreds of Namer APCs had been planned years ago, but had been prevented by defense budget cuts. Anti-tank missiles were fired at Namer APCs used by the Israeli infantry during the fighting in the Gaza Strip, but their advanced protection systems prevented fatalities.
The Namer APC is based on a Merkava tank chassis. It was developed in Israel, and has been produced since 2008, among other things as part of implementation of the lessons learned from the second Lebanon War, in which Hezbollah challenged IDF armor with advanced anti-tank missiles, such as Russian-made Metis and Kornet missiles, for the first time. The Namer is supplied with the WindGuard reactive armor system, considered one of the most effective protective systems in the world for armored fighting vehicles (AFVs).
The Ministry of Defense decided already a number of years ago to assign production of key components for APCs to General Dynamics in order to be able to use US aid to purchase them. Assembly of the components is performed in Israel at the IDF Rehabilitation and Maintenance Center at Tel Hashomer, which also produces the Merkava Mark 4 tank. This order comes on top of a past $250 million Ministry of Defense order for engines for APCs of this type from the US company. It is estimated that this procurement will include several hundred million shekels more in systems and components essential for the completion of the assembly process for the APCs in Israel.
200 enterprises, many of which are located in outlying areas, are involved in the assembling the vehicles in Israel, and 10,000 employees are employed directly and indirectly in these defense firms. A large proportion of the companies involved in the tank and APC program depend on Ministry of Defense orders. The Ministry of Defense says that every shekel invested in Israeli companies in the framework of this program produces almost four times as much for the economy, because exports by these companies average $700 million a year.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 5, 2015
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