Israel’s Merkava has an Anonymous Buyer, Maybe Ukraine
According to the Bulgarian Military, there are three possible buyers: Turkiye, Croatia, or Ukraine. The publication counts the names and asks, “Who is the hidden Merkava tank buyer?” Considering Turkiye’s efforts to develop Altay Main Battle Tank, the call for Turkiye might be a clickbait for many neighbouring countries.
The publication has not provided any further details, but the Directorate for International Defence Cooperation of the Israeli Defence Ministry (SIBAT) has recently declared that the war in Ukraine increased Israel’s defence exports, mostly towards Europe. SIBAT handles the arms export of Israel.
Yair Kulas, head of SIBAT, has recently talked to the Calcalist newspaper about the potential international sale of the Merkava tank.
As The Times of Israel reported, Kulas said they were in advanced negotiations with the two countries for the Merkava tank.
Kulas did not name the country or mention the available Merkava models for sale. It could be an older Mk 4 or Mk 3 model or a recently retired Mk 2.
Israel created the Merkava tank after the Six-Day War in 1967 out of a need for a better Main Battle Tank (MBT).
Development of this Israeli tank began in the early 1970s, taking lessons from the Yom Kippur War in 1973. One of the Merkava tank variants, namely the Merkava IV, is one of the most advanced variants under the Merkava 5, which will only be operational in 2023. The Merkava 4 is not offered for export, but systems and components can be exported. In July 2018, the IDF launched the Merkava 4 Barak, an updated version of the Merkava 4 tanks.