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The Israeli Eitan Enters Service In 2021

February 14, 2020

Via Ministry of Defense.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) can expect to receive brand new Eitan 8×8 armored personnel carriers next year in at least three configurations. A statement shared across the social media channels run by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) revealed the next-generation infantry transports are being assembled by the Armored Vehicles Directorate and have the Iron Fist active protection system. Iron Fist, which is manufactured by Elbit Systems, is a hard kill detection and interception device that launches a tiny rocket at an approaching projectile. With the IDF at constant risk of engaging militants in Gaza and the border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah remains entrenched, having vehicular countermeasures is paramount.

The Eitan was first revealed in 2016 and shared many similarities with its counterparts from Europe. Its hull rested on a chassis with high ground clearance and the layout puts the engine compartment in front with the passenger compartment at the back. The driver, of course, is seated next to the engine. The Eitan equipped as a fighting vehicle has a large remote controlled turret armed with a 30mm cannon and two medium-range anti-tank missiles that pop out from its container. The Iron Fist system are two small oscillating launchers on either side of the turret. When networked to the external radar sensors installed below them the Iron Fist is the first line of defense against against rocket propelled grenades, which are the most common weapons used on the IDF’s vehicle fleet.

The MoD didn’t share details on how many Eitans will reach the ground forces. But considering the diversity of the IDF’s logistics Eitans may enter service in their dozens at first before hundreds more are added throughout the 2020s. Israel’s military industries does have a long tradition of developing wheeled armored transports but nothing on the scale as the Eitan has been attempted before. It’s also part of an unmissable trend across the Middle East where armies and defense ministries are looking for robust wheeled transports that excel in every aspect, be it firepower, mobility, and protection. The military-industrial sector of Turkey, rather than of Israel, has surged ahead in the region with both exportable models and remarkable innovation. When it comes to 8×8 APCs, Turkey has two superb offerings: the Otokar Arma and the FNSS Pars.

One particular success story in the Gulf is the Rabdan from the UAE that seeks to maximize firepower options for wheeled troop carriers. Resulting from a joint venture between Otokar and Al Jasoor, the latter an Emirati vehicle startup, the 30 ton Rabdan combines the Arma 8×8 with the weapon station of the Russian BMP-3. This gives it a firepower advantage thanks to a 100mm main gun, a 30mm secondary weapon, and a coaxial light machine gun. If this isn’t impressive enough it seats eight dismounts and is fully amphibious; as many as several hundred may enter service this coming decade.

Another promising 8×8 is Jordan’s Al-Mared that was designed to withstand roadside bombs and lethal projectiles. The Al-Mared can also mount a weapon station with a large caliber cannon and anti-tank missiles. These exact same characteristics are manifesting in other APC designs being tailored for the GCC’s requirements. With Saudi Arabia and Qatar looking for their own preferred 8×8 models it looks as if the entire Middle East is adopting these platforms faster than NATO. Yet there are many outliers as well. Egypt’s vast ground forces are disinterested in a modular wheeled APC for now. Likewise are the countries still reeling from civil war and post-conflict reconstruction like Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

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