The Israeli Defense Ministry (IDF) unveiled on Sunday three new prototypes for the Carmel advanced armored fighting vehicle (AFV), which officers say will revolutionize the battlefield, The Jerusalem Post (JP) reported.
The Carmel (the Hebrew acronym for Advanced Ground Combat Vehicle), is under development by the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (MAFAT) and its Merkava Tank Administration, and will constitute a quantum leap in the field of armored vehicles.
“We have completed a long process today, in which, together with the Armored Corps and the Ground Forces, we have characterized our operational needs in the future battlefield,” said Brig.-General Guy Hasson, Chief Armored Corps Officer.
Launched three years ago as a multi-year plan, the Carmel is expected to be at the forefront of the military’s new combat concept, which is based on autonomous and automatic maneuvering capabilities, artificial intelligence, hybrid propulsion and more.
Designed to play a lead role on the future battlefield, the combat vehicle takes artificial intelligence capabilities that enable full situational awareness and fast responses to enemy threats while drastically reducing the workload of the crew.
With numerous sensors and cameras, the Carmel allows the crew to order autonomous actions such as searching for several enemy targets simultaneously and then prioritizing the targets and off-road driving.
Drawing lessons from 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, where IDF soldiers fought in narrow streets and alleys in the Gaza Strip, the 35-ton, tracked AFV is designed to be simple to operate, relatively inexpensive, agile and lethal with firepower designed for close and urban combat.
Operated by a two-man crew, it is almost completely autonomous and highly invisible to enemy radar. The platform has breakthrough technologies, including modular transparent armor, next-generation cooperative active protection, an IED alert and neutralization system and a hybrid engine.
It is also fitted with tactical drones which can help with surveillance and reconnaissance as well as attack capabilities. The Carmel will also include an entirely new generation of active protection and will allow the two-man crew to operate in closed hatches while still seeing the entire battlefield.
But the Carmel is not a tank which is not very maneuverable in urban environments, Hasson said.
“It’s something totally different than a tank: It’s a platform that is totally new,” he told reporters at a live demonstration in northern Israel.
“Although the nature of war will not change, the soldier on the ground will face a great deal of uncertainty and will have to change,” Hasson said.
While MAFAT expects the development and demonstration testing of the Carmel to extend over the coming decade or more, the platform prototypes shown to reporters on Sunday included one from Rafael, one from IAI and one from Elbit – Israel’s three major defense companies.
According to the Defense Ministry, each company was asked to develop their platform from a technology-based concept that would transform existing and future platforms into an advanced vehicle with a cockpit – much like that of a fighter jet – where most of the activities are carried out autonomously, including travel, threat detection, target acquisition, as well as defensive and offensive maneuvers.