The Merkava has components made in Germany and several other countries. so I don't know how "Israeli" it is. Haven't a few of them been knocked out by folks on the West Bank, or Gaza. with RPGs and Molotov cocktails? I saw a Web site where they were talking much a lot about the prowess of the Merkava.
I think it's a good tank, but I don't think it's better than an M-1A2, or a Leopard II; especially the newest models. My main concern with an M-1 would be that it requires a huge amount of fuel to remain operational. many countries don't have the logistics to keep them "fed.
" I don't see how any one can say that the Leopard 2 is a better tank than the M1a2. Especially since it has never been combat tested. It would also be hard to compare it to a Merkava since the IDF has not fought any significant opponents since their little adventure into Liberia back in the 80's.
I know personally, if I had enemy tanks coming over the dune I'd want an M-1 giving me cover fire. Several of the components of the tank are built in other countries, but the Merkava itself appears to be organic to Israel - it is constructed in Israel by Israeli Defense Industries. It utilizes the same 120mm smoothbore as found on the Leopard, Abrams, Challenger, etc. As far as I know they've only been knocked out in the W. Bank by 100kg packages of explosives placed under the road - striking the tank's vulnerable underside. As far as the other components of the tank - I was under the impression that the technology stuff was actually made in Israel itself and just wanted to see if anybody knew how it "really" stacked up against the Abrams.
I was surprised by your experience with the Canadians though. Someone that I know also raised a good point when he mention that the Leopard hasn't really been tested in combat - the analysis I was reading called the Abrams the best combat-tested tank in the world, but the Leopard the best tank in some sort of nebulous theoretical way. Tough to say "which is tougher" the Abrams or the Merkava. My impression is that the armor is similar. The 3 tanks that we've lost were to do 100kgs, blowing up under the tank.
Other than that they really haven't been tested in a real combat situation. One interesting aspect is the engine being placed in the front. The idea being that massive amount of metal up front further protects the crew. In the end.
it's the crew, their motivation and their training. Right now according to Armor Magazine the top tank in the world is the Leopard 2A6. The 2A6 has an upgraded gun that places it slightly over the M1A2 SEP. I asked a friend in the 1st Cav.
if the Merkava Mk4 could beat an M1A2. He gave me a point by point comparison, comparing speed, ammo capacity, and power to weight ratio, secondary weaponry, and the Markova's mortar. His conclusion was that "the Abrams MBT is better then a Merkava" Another point to consider is the engine. While yes it's a gas hog, the M1 is also extremely quiet. I was talking to my boss who was prior army Intel. She told about how they were nearly run over during a night training op because the first indication that they had of the tanks approach was when it smashed through the trees fifty feet ahead of them.
Those three tanks are my favorites. The Merkava Mk1 was combat tested in '73 against T-62s and T-72s. The armor, which included diesel fuel (I haven't figured how that one works) was easily capable of taking the punishment from the latest in Arab operated Russian equipment (I hope they read Russian). Only one thing bothers me about the M1A2 - the laser designator can burn out under extensive use, while those on the Leopard 2 (all models) shut down temporarily when overheated.
The Leo.2 is also better optics wise for firing manually. Not to discredit the Abrams or Merkava, but the newest Leo is nicer, incl.
a longer gun barrel for higher velocity. IDI was considering designing another homegrown tank with a 140mm main gun! But because of such high secrecy, it's hard to tell what the newest Markova's armor is made of - every model has made improvements to it. DU armor is nasty for the Abrams to have - but it is penetrable by the latest AT shells. The Leo. Has some shady secrecy about what they have for armor, so estimations would tell you that the have some advantages over the M1A2 and some important disadvantages.
Just remember, a lot of European countries tested the M1A2, Leopard2A5, and Challenger2 (no one says much about those). The tank of choice was either home grown or the Leo.
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for http://www.WarGear.info/. WarGear.info carries the best selection of military clothing, war gear, and combat accessories on the market.