The IDF is stepping up construction of state-of-the-art armored personnel carriers in order to better protect its troops, following lessons learned during the summer’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, Channel 2 reported Monday night.
The military is allocating funds for the construction of a large number of ‘Namer’ (leopard) APCs, introduced in 2008, which sport the durable chassis of the army’s renowned Merkava tanks.
While army officials say Namer APCs performed beautifully during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, resisting bomb blasts and saving many soldiers’ lives, too few of the vehicles were available to infantry units. In one incident early in the conflict, soldiers in an old Vietnam War-era M-113 APC were hit with an anti-tank missile, resulting in the deaths of seven soldiers.
“The only issue is funding,” Brig. Gen. Baruch Mazliach, head of the Defense Ministry’s Namer and Merkava department, told Channel 2. “We can construct dozens of vehicles a year.”
The rate of construction could be doubled or tripled in the near future, according to the report. “We are already preparing to pick up our pace and in the coming years to construct a larger number of Namers for the IDF and other infantry forces,” Mazliach said.