Israel unveils Merkava Mk 4 Barak smart tank
The Israeli Defence Force brings artificial intelligence to armored combat with the latest variant of its main battle tank. The Merkava Mk 4 Barak is billed as the first tank to have an advanced AI and sensor system that takes over many routine tasks, allowing crews to concentrate on the mission at hand.
The Merkava, which first entered service 1978, is a dual-use tank with a distinctive turret set well back on the chassis and armored clamshell doors on the rear. This provides enough interior space inside the vehicle when the main-gun ammunition is removed to convert it into a medevac unit or armored troop carrier.
The Mark 4 Barak is the latest variant and is scheduled to begin trials in 2020. The centerpiece improvement is the advanced AI system that takes over routine crew tasks. According to the IDF, this not only allows mission times to improve by 30 percent, but it also helps to more quickly and accurately zero in on and attack targets. In addition, the computer can share data with both the crew and with other tanks in the vicinity.
One other innovation is the Iron View VR helmet that gives the soldiers a 360-degree view of the outside environment. This not only provides the commander with better situational awareness, but it gives trainees a much more realistic experience during exercises. The IDF says this makes the transition from training to real tank missions much easier.
"The Armored Corps concludes a significant period of operational successes in various regions, which proves the relevance of the corps in protecting the security of the State of Israel and its civilians," says an unidentified senior official from the Armored Corps. "The new tank brings the Armored Corps a step forward in the operational arena, and constitutes an innovative weapon that will change the face of the combat on the ground."
The video below shows the Barak's Iron Vision system in action.