The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has released details of its future Barak variant of the Merkava Mk 4 tank, saying it will feature artificial intelligence (AI) that will provide commanders with ‘recommendations’.
The Barak is under development and expected to begin rolling off production lines in three years to gradually replace the existing Merkava Mk 4 as the IDF Armored Corps’ main battle tank. Currently the most advanced version of the Merkava in service is the Merkava Mk 4 Windbreaker.
Lieutenant Colonel Schachar (full name withheld), head of the Weapons Branch in the Armored Corps, told Jane’s on 25 July that the new tank will enhance the “user experience” of the four-person crew.
“The mission computer will be like a fifth crew member, which will improve processes in the cabin,” he said. “It’s designed to understand the situation and activate multiple touchscreens accordingly. This will form an inseparable part of the ability to conduct combat operations in closed, urban spaces.”
The new tank will have cameras that will enable the crew to see all around the tank while remaining protected inside it. This includes an Iron View helmet-mounted virtual reality display that will give the commander a virtual view through the tank and access mission information, much as glass cockpits do for fighter pilots. “We conducted experiments and found that personnel did not experience motion sickness [using the viewing screens]. On the contrary, the feedback was very positive,” Lt Col Schachar said.
Together with improved controls and a digital navigation system, the improved views around the tank will allow the driver to operate more independently from the rest of the crew, freeing the commander to focus on higher priority tasks, Lt Col Schachar added.
Brigadier General Guy Hasson, the chief Armored Corps officer, told reporters on 19 July, that the Barak will have on-board radars that tell the crew about “the situation it is in and whether it is near dangers.
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