Superseded in frontline service by both the Merkava Mk 3 and Mk 4 variants, the Mk 2s that were produced in the 1980s have been held in reserve for years, but the IDF says it will cease training personnel to operate the tanks in the coming months.
The IDF says the retired tanks will be converted into battlefield logistics carriers, casualty evacuation, and command post vehicles. The IDF has already produced one prototype for the logistics role and a second is currently being produced for casualty evacuation. The Armored Corps is looking at additional possible roles and has not completed its decision-making process. The IDF declined to say how many Merkavas will ultimately be converted.
The Merkava Mk 2 conversion programme "came from the understanding that we can and should convert the purpose of old platforms for other needs. This both serves the needs of soldiers and saves on expenses," it said.
The platform is the latest in a series of attempts by Israel's defence establishment to create better-protected APCs to replace its fleet of thousands of M113 vehicles, which have been in service since the 1970s.