Israel will soon begin serial production of Eitan 8×8 armored personnel carriers (APC) at the IDF Technical and Logistics Directorate Development and Maintenance Center, where Merkava and Namer heavy armored fighting vehicles are produced. Eitan is expected to become operational at the end of 2021, replacing the half-century-old M-113 APC.
Eitan is Israel’s late entry into the wheeled AFV generation, a trend endorsed by armies throughout the world since the 1960s. The IDF evaluated several types of wheeled APCs but rejected the concept due to the lack of protection and off-road mobility, where tracked vehicles have superior performance over wheeled ones.
With gross vehicle weight exceeding 30 tons, and the availability of active protection systems to protect such platforms wheeled APC has reached a point where the IDF could accept such vehicles to equip light infantry formations, particularly those designed for combat in urban terrain. Unlike tracked vehicles that cause extensive damage to infrastructure, wheeled vehicles are less restricted in movement on paved and unpaved roads. Modern 8×8 combat vehicles often use double steering and central tire inflation systems to improve maneuverability, obstacle crossing and mobility in sand and mud.
The development and production of the Eitan are led by the Armored Vehicles Directorate at the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), in cooperation with the IMoD Mission to the United States and the Directorate of Production and Procurement. The Eitan will be manufactured simultaneously in more than 60 industries in Israel and the United States.
The Eitan will be built in three variants – an APC, a command vehicle and an infantry combat vehicle, equipped with an unmanned turret mounting a 30mm cannon and Spike missiles. Other configurations are expected to follow. The displayed the MOD vehicles show different armor configurations, with an ‘Iron Fist’ active protection system installed on the variant with the unmanned turret. The vehicle is powered by a 750 hp engine and has a maximum road speed of 90 km/h. Operated by three crew members Eitan can carry a squad of nine fully-equipped soldiers in its fighting compartment. The vehicle has rear ramp access and roof hatches.