Israeli armour has become the worldwide known for the protection it provides. The Merkava MBT is arguably the toughest tank to destroy and its reputation is well deserved in very harsh conditions of urban warfare. Still, the Israeli army lacked the APC to accompany Merkavas. Everything they had in their inventory wasn’t even close to providing the armour protection needed.
On the other hand, the number of aging Merkava Mk I and II tanks was slowly withdrawn from the service and the engineers come to the brilliant idea of converting them into the APCs the Israeli army needs.
The first attempts of converting Merkava tanks into the Namer APC/IFV were made in the late 1990’s but the lack of funds halted the project without a single prototype being built. Still, the conflict in 2004 proved that the existing solutions are inadequate and the project was hastily brought back to life. In 2005 the first prototype was put to the trials and in 2008 the Namer came to the serial production. Until today, some 200 units entered the service and more will be produced in the following years.
This is a heavily armoured APC with a great capacity for carrying troops. The armour is virtually unmatched by any other similar type of the vehicle in the world. The composite materials used in the production process are classified but it is a reasonable to assume that the very same materials used for the Merkava Mk IV modular armour were used for the Namer as well. The armour protection is high on all sides including the bottom of the vehicle. This makes the Namer resistant to many IEDs. Of course, the protection is not unlimited.
As for the armament, the Namer features the standard external 60 mm mortar that is present on Merkava tanks. Also, it can carry a 30 mm grenade launcher, 12.7 mm machine gun or a smaller calibre MG as a primary weapon and the secondary armament includes also one 7.62 mm FN MAG machine gun.
The Namer has 3 crew members and it can carry up to 12 troops (9 infantrymen is the standard setup). This makes it able to provide protection and fire cover for the troops being delivered to the certain points on the battlefield.
The size and level of protection resulted in heavy weight of the vehicle so it has 60 tons which is unparalleled weight in this class. To move such a huge and heavy vehicle, the 1200 hp engine was installed and it produces a top speed of 60 km/h on the road. Of course, this kind of weight excludes any attempt of making the Namer an amphibious unit.
Namer is a vehicle fully adapted to the conditions that can be found in Israel and the neighbouring countries. Still, its weight would make it pretty troublesome on softer soils so it is uncertain how it would perform on some other theatre, with different soil configuration. The price of USD 3 million per unit is also pretty high for an APC/IFV.