The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1973 and entered official service in 1979. Four main versions of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War. Design criteria include rapid repair of battle damage, survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance.
It was reportedly decided shortly before the beginning of the 2006 Lebanon War that the Merkava line would be discontinued within four years. However, on August 16, 2013, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced the decision to resume production of the Merkava main battle tank for the IDF Armored Corps.
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