The Israeli APC has begun a test run in the US. In Israel, the number of Namer APCs the IDF will obtain is expected to be reduced his summer; the US Army will look into the possibility of procuring the Merkava APC (Namer) produced by the Israeli defense establishment.
Israel is hoping that the US Army will decide to procure a certain number of Namers. At the same time, the IDF intends to decrease the number of APCs procured for the IDF in Israel. The Namer project is part of the Merkava Tank project, which is undergoing a renewed analysis in Israel following the cuts to Israel’s defense budget.
The IDF was supposed to invest approximately 2 billion NIS in the construction of new Merkava tanks and APCs in the framework of decisions for the previous multi-year plan (the 2007-2011 Tefen plan), for a duration of ten years beginning in 2011. Approximately half of the sum is funded by the US, as part of the work on the Namer APC is carried out in the US, and the other half in NIS for work carried out in Israel. The latter provides a living for employees of nearly 200 factories involved in the Merkava tank and tens of Israeli factories that provide Namer components. The project is carried out in its entirety by the Merkava Tank Planning Directorate, which belongs to the IDF and the Ministry of Defense.
There is consensus within the Israeli defense establishment regarding the necessity of the new tanks and APCs; however, there is a question regarding the quantity established in the previous multi-year plan. The Israeli political echelon is exerting pressure to cut the number of Namer APCs slated for future production in half. Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz (who displayed no hesitation in drastically cutting the armored ORBAT as Commander of the Ground Forces prior to the Second Lebanon War) is also spearheading a significant cut in the project.
Now that the Golani Infantry Brigade recently concluded its full procurement of the Namer APC, it appears that the IDF will be content with having the APC as the main system for its infantry units. One issue that may arise is the Ministry of Defense’s commitment to GDLS, the US company that established Namer production lines in the city of Lima, Ohio. Under the MoD-GDLS contract, the deal stipulates that a minimal amount of Namer APCs will be produced in two stages.
The IDF is considering canceling the second stage, though from a legal perspective, it is doubtful they will be able to leave the contract. If the US Army decides to equip its forces with the Namer, this issue may be solved