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In a first, Israel to sell Merkava tanks to Europe

"Following the war in Europe, several countries expressed interest in purchasing old Merkava tanks from the IDF's surplus, which were retired years ago," the IDF said in a statement.

An IDF Merkava IV tank on the Golan Heights, May 21, 2023. Photo by Ofer Zidon/Flash90.
An IDF Merkava IV tank on the Golan Heights, May 21, 2023. Photo by Ofer Zidon/Flash90.

Israel will reportedly sell hundreds of its Merkava Mark II and III main battle tanks to two foreign armies, at least one of them European. It is the first time the tank will be sold in Europe.

The Israeli Defense Ministry wouldn’t specify the countries’ identities but did state that the sale involves more than 200 tanks. The Mark II has been phased out of active service in the Israeli military, but versions of the Mark III are still in use. The newest version of the tank is the Mark V, which entered service in 2023.

As some parts of the Mark II and III are U.S.-made, particularly the engine, the U.S. Defense Department must sign off on the deal. That approval is expected to be forthcoming, and the sale will likely go through in about three months, Ynet reported.

“Following the war in Europe, several countries expressed interest in purchasing old Merkava tanks from the IDF’s surplus, which were retired years ago,” the IDF said in a statement.

Israel sold a record $12.6 billion in defense exports in 2022, the Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.

Defense exports have doubled in less than a decade and increased by 50% in the past three years, with sales to the Abraham Accords countries reaching $3 billion, the ministry said.

“The unprecedented data presented by the defense establishment—centered on a new record in defense export volumes—reflect in the most striking way the security strength and technological superiority of the State of Israel,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement.

Half of the contracts are “mega-deals” worth more than $100 million.

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