With continuing security uncertainty in the region, Israel has unveiled a new armored fighting vehicle, Defense News reported Sunday. Named Eitan, the vehicle will weigh half as much as current Namer heavy carriers, also known as armored personnel carrier vehicles.
“It will be a lot lighter [than Namer] and will be designed to cost,” said Guy Zur, a commander of the Israel Defense Forces ground forces command. “It may be less good [than the Namer], but it will be affordable and allow us to equip a large part of our force.”
Sources told Defense News that the new Eitan vehicles would be deployed alongside Namers and were expected to weigh 35 tons or less. The Israeli infantry will likely use the modern Eitans with sensors and munitions to replace older M113s.
In addition to Eitans, Israel was also working on a new tank through its Carmel program. The future tank was being designed to weigh approximately 32 tons and would most likely become operational after 2025.
The technological announcement comes at a moment of continued security uncertainty in the region. The rise in Iraq and Syria of the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS, as well as American and Russian bombing campaigns have left Israel in a position to continue shoring up its defenses.
The Iranian nuclear deal signed in July left Israeli leaders at odds with their American partners, who have said the deal will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Israeli leaders have been skeptical of the deal and it was revealed last week that Israel had violated Iranian airspace, increasing tensions between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Domestically, Israel has dealt with several weeks of clashes over the holy site of the Temple of the Mount, with 10 Israelis killed and at least 40 Palestinians dead. The clashes have raised fears of another intifada between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Eitans were expected to begin production in 2020. Both the Eitan and future new tank are part of Israel’s defense plan for its ground forces beginning approximately 20 years from now.