The Israelis have finally allowed details of one of their weapon systems to become public. Let’s take a look.
To understand the weapon system, we need to go back to the Yom Kippur War in 1973. During that war, the Israelis were fighting (and mostly losing, though it worked out ok in the end) a war on two fronts: against Egypt in the South and Syria in the north. There were considerable fears that the two Arab armies, with their new Soviet hardware, would overrun the Israelis.
While the Israelis got plenty of support from the Americans, they were also deeply aware of how fickle allies could be. France and Britain had abandoned Israel after the Six-Day war in 1967. So Israel decided to do a lot of indigenous work. You can always rely on yourself. One such bit was the development of an indigenously produced tank, the famed Merkava.
But, what to do with the old tanks? They’re not suitable for frontline service, but throwing them out would be wasteful. And, more anti-tank firepower was needed. The Israelis had already put quite a bit of effort into upgrading their outmoded M48 and M60 tanks. These were called the Magach series, but eventually the Soviet tanks were too good.
There’s a long history of converting old tank chassis into support vehicles. The Germans did this in the Second World War, making the well-regarded StuG III off of surplus PzKpfW III hulls. The Israelis went a similar direction with their old Magachs. Time had marched on, though, and the Israelis installed Spike-NLOS ATGMs instead of a gun. The result is called Pereh, which is probably a terrible transliteration. It means Onager in Hebrew.
Let’s talk about the missile: Spike-NLOS. These are big, long-ranged missiles. They’ve been around since the 80s, so quite a bit longer than the small Spike that’s a Javelin competitor. They’ve got a range of about 25 km, and weigh in at 70 kg or so. Spike is, uh, well, I would say SACLOS, but the wireless datalink doesn’t require line of sight to work. So, SACLOS-like, I guess. You can also provide midcourse updates via the wireless datalink, or even program target coordinates for the missile to hit. Maybe we should call it SACLOS++ or SACLOS# guidance. Bad programmer jokes aside, the Pereh carries twelve of them.
Structurally, the Pereh is rather interesting. The Israelis went to great lengths to disguise it as a tank. It has a dummy turret, complete with dummy gun, built around the box launcher for the Spike missiles. The box launcher retracts into the turret bustle, and the antenna can fold down. The turret has a pretty serious looking array of explosive reactive armor on it. Remember, the Israelis came up with this stuff first, and they’re pretty good at making it. It would not surprise me if the Pereh kept a bunch of the turret armor of the parent M48/M60/Magach.
So what are the uses? Well, the enemy will see a second-line tank, sitting in the second line, just where they would expect to find it. But from there the Spike missiles can still reduce an approaching tank assault force. The Spike missiles can also be used as precision, short-range artillery against fixed positions, and the IDF has used the Pereh this way to great effect in conflicts in Lebanon. So it’s got shades of the classic M18 Hellcat tank destroyer, but also the StuG III assault gun. And all that ERA will make it more resistant to enemy rockets and ATGMs that might come after it.
We think these are great. And Borgundy would like them too. I wonder if we have any M60s lying around.
Did Borgundy buy Leopards, Pattons, or Chieftains in the 60s?
I honestly hadn’t given it much thought. I probably should, but I must confess to a lack of interest in that entire generation of tanks.
The Israelis have built on old M60 hulls, but there’s nothing to stop you from doing this on any old hull you please.
Eventually I’ll get an article out there. Offhand I’d say M60 Patton, if you had to hold me to something.
I think the Israelis only ended up with M60s because Labour refused to sell them Chieftains. Israel was actually invited to help with the Chieftain design process and received a couple of units for testing, until the political winds in 10 Downing started blowing in the other direction. Much of what went into the first Merkavas was based on that design work for Chieftain.
Borgundy is supposed to be a NATO member in Western/Central Europe, right? So the concept of operations for your MBT is mainly local defensive operations against the red menace. That being said, out of the 1960s Western contenders, Chieftain has the best frontal armor profile, full gun stabilization, excellent fire control, and the biggest gun, at the cost of a low power-to-weight ratio and frequent maintenance issues. Unless you’re cozy enough to Khrushchev for him to sell you T-64, (Not going to happen.) I’d go with Chieftain, and switch out the Leyland L-60 for a beefier MTU MB 838 CaM 500, sort of like how the Israelis did for their Sho’t Kal Alef.
After the stillbrew composite armor array upgrades in the 70s, you might also be able to get access to the FV4030-3 (Shir 2) program as time went on.
That is, unless Borgundy is rich enough to have an industrial base sufficient for domestic development. Say, how big is Borgundy anyways?
Israel ran into political issues with the Chieftain (which led to the Merkava program), and political help in getting M60s, but that wasn’t why I was picking M60s. Surely you have noticed that I am not Israel. 😛 Mostly I chose it (offhandedly) because it was reasonably popular on the export market and reasonably balanced, and not wanting to put a full article in the comments.
The L60 engine is hot garbage (from a reliability standpoint). I’d have to see if an engine swap is plausible (read: was offered/proposed somewhere, at least by my own rules), though I have bent those before. Given the profile of the L60, I’m not entirely sure about that. Opposed piston builds are at least compact. Though I’m amused by an MB-swap. Time to look up some dimensions.
One of the tacit assumptions of being a NATO member is that I have to pick from NATO/NATO-compatible (i.e. certainly not Soviet) stuff. So no Kharkovite T-64 for me.
As for Borgundy’s size/industrial base/budget, I never really established that, mostly so I can write what I wish. 🙂 I’ve gone both ways before, because I enjoy doing a “pick ’em” comparison and because I also like sketching designs. There’s another couple sketches in the pipeline somewhere.
Back in 2016, when the Procurement Games were a bit more rules-heavy and I was a more regular participant, we figured on procurement programs of about 10 years at about $25 billion per annum. Assuming the same proportions as the US defense budget, they spend about $100 billion per year, which puts them solidly in 3rd and 4th place.
As far as population and native industrial capacity go, we never developed strong rules for those. Luchtburg eventually builds its own aircraft carriers, so ‘lots’ is a fair bet, but as parvusimperator says, nowadays it’s ‘whatever is convenient for the article’.
Fair enough on the population/industry rules.
And sure, the M60s were (and still are) popular, but they always seemed like they didn’t have any distinguishing advantage over the tip of the red spear. Not enough frontal armor to take a hit from the long 125mm, not enough mobility to reliably flank, and not enough gun to convincingly defeat the frontal arrays of T-64s at long range, plus too tall of a silhouette to remain hidden for more than a few seconds. Chieftain doesn’t have the mobility either, but once it reaches a decent hull-down position, it at least has the armor and firepower to stand and fight on its own terms.
M60s might make sense for Luchtburg if the only plausible armored threat vector is monkey-model export T-55s operated by Sandinistas, but if your country is on the operational maps of the 1st Guards Tank Army, I’d start shopping for (or designing) something beefier.