The Director of Procurement at Israel’s Ministry of Defense (IMOD) has purchased in an expedited procedure 50 wheeled armored personnel carriers following a request from the IDF to bolster the capabilities of increased operational tempo the IDF has experienced in recent months.
The SandCat EX11 was designed and produced by Plasan, using commercial Ford F550 chassis. The original vehicle was stripped of the standard body, and added the armored capsule designed with the company’s unique kitted-hull architecture, enabling flexible configurations for different uses. The vehicle carries up to 11 soldiers, two stretchers, and medics when configured into an ambulance. Israel’s border guards have already used a smaller version of the Sandcat armored vehicles since 2008.
The vehicle’s assembly was quick, with parts supplied from operational inventory, enabling rapid production ramp-up for initial deliveries and full order completion within a few weeks. “This is a significant and rapid procurement that brings an important operational capability to the field and immediately responds to the IDF needs of protected mobility.” Said Avi Dadon, Director of Procurement and Deputy Director of the MOD. The agreement with the Plasan also includes integrated logistics to support the vehicles, assuring the availability of the vehicle fleet.
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Successors for Ze’ev and David
The vehicle complements the Ze’ev (Wolf) armored vehicles the IDF has operated in these roles since 2006. These 8-ton vehicles were used extensively on border protection and supported IDF operations in urban terrain. [wlm_ismember]The spacious cabin with surrounding armored windows could carry up to 12 soldiers, offering a relatively high level of protection and good situational awareness. Ze’ev was developed in the early 2000s by the Hatehof armored vehicle manufacturer in cooperation with Rafael. The company changed its name to Carmor and reached liquidation in 2020 following a prolonged dispute with its former Turkish partner, BMC. The absence of a manufacturer prevented the IDF the possibility to buy more Ze’ev vehicles when the security situation deteriorated earlier in 2022.
In June this year, the IMOD launched the procurement of another armored vehicle, seeking a replacement for the David, a light armored vehicle originally based on the Land Rover Defender 110. In recent years the Defender chassis was replaced by a Toyota land Cruiser LC-79. While David was lighter and presumably more agile, the vehicle rapidly deteriorated due to extensive use and excessive weight.
IMOD has recently awarded a contract to the US-based TAG company to acquire Amitay 4×4 vehicles, an off-the-shelf version of TAG’s Terrier LT-79, a vehicle based on a Toyota-79 frame, to be used as successors of David vehicles. The three or five-door vehicle accommodates six soldiers and two crew members. The baseline armor complies with STANAG 4569 Level I (5.56MM/M-16) but can be upgraded with Level II (7.62 AK47) while maintaining most of the original payload capacity.
For the Amitay tender, TAG has teamed with IAI and Eltel, who will provide local service and support. In this program, TAG competed with two Israeli companies with US subsidiaries – Plasan, which offered the Hyrax based on a Mercedes Benz rolling chassis, and Shladot, the original manufacturer of the David, using the Toyota LC-76 as a baseline. Israel preferred having the vehicles manufactured in the US to qualify the program for US military support funding.