Israel’s Defense Ministry has awarded General Dynamics a contract to build 600 Namer (leopard in Hebrew) armored personnel carriers (APC) over the next eight years. The competitive procurement process was for the production of Merkava APC hulls, material kit sets and integration of the kits to the vehicle chassis. General Dynamics expects to complete contract negotiations by the end of this year. Production will be performed at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. The base contract will be completed by March 2015 or extend to November 2019 if all options are exercised.
Battalion 13 of the Golani Brigade has already been outfitted with the Namer and a senior Defense Ministry official said that the remaining three Golani battalions would receive the APC over the next three years.
The decision to issue the Namer tender in the US was made due to budgetary constraints.
If the Namer is made in the US, the IDF will be able to pay for the production with the foreign military financial aid it receives annually from the US and most of which needs to be spent in America.
The Namer has advanced defensive systems and an internal air-conditioning unit which enables the vehicle to continue operating in areas contaminated by nonconventional weapons. The Namer carries a number of machine guns, missile launchers, and reconnaissance equipment.
The IDF plans to equip the Namer with a locally built active protection system. The IDF has already fielded the Trophy APS on it’s Merkava 4 tanks. System comes as an integral part of the tank and the IMOD plans to follow the same path with the Namer.