Urban fights are thought of as the future of warfare in many countries, but to Israel, urban fighting is a very current reality. At the same time, conventional defense requires well-protected forces that can maneuver and survive with the country’s heavy armor, out in the tank-friendly environs of the Middle East. The Israelis had long depended on the M113 to fill these roles, but heavier options were needed, and the Israelis could care less about air-transportability. The resourceful Israelis turned to their stock of captured Soviet T-54/55 tanks for initial solutions, producing the Achzarit APC. They liked the results so much that they decided to do the same thing with their older Merkava Mk.I tank hulls, creating the 60 tonne Namer (“leopard”). That’s about twice the weight of the USA’s M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), but Namers are mostly used as ultra-heavy but lightly-armed armored personnel carriers. Unmanned turrets with a 30mm cannon and Spike missiles would be needed to turn them into true IFVs.
Even in an APC role, experiences during the 2006 war in Lebanon against Syria and Iran confirmed the Namer’s value. The Israelis decided to build more using new Merkava Mk.IV hulls, but that creates some manufacturing issues for the Israelis, who were trying to quickly build up their Merkava fleet per the long-range “Tefen” plan. Israel would also benefit financially from having more manufacturing done in America. The solution? Find an American partner. Enter General Dynamics Land Systems.