A big deal for the Israel Ministry of Defense and the ‘Eshat Ashkelon’ factory: the procurement agency will purchase assemblies and spare parts for the Merkava tanks and the Namer APCs for approximately NIS 218 million ($56.7 million). The Ministry of Defense’s backlog of orders for the plant, which employs about 440 workers from Ashkelon and the surrounding area, is estimated at about 1.6 billion NIS. The Ministry of Defense, through the Tiger Vehicle Procurement Unit in Manhar and in cooperation with the Directorate of Vehicles and Tanks (MNTK), issued a new order in the amount of approximately NIS 218 million to the “Make Ashkelon” factory controlled by “Fimi,” for assemblies and spare parts for Merkava Mk 4 tanks and the Tiger APC.
CEO of Esaut, Eli Demari said: “Accepting the order significantly increases the company’s order backlog and is a very important milestone in strengthening the company’s position as a global and technological leader in drive systems, relays and assemblies in the defense sector.”
Deputy Director and Chief Executive Officer at the Ministry of Defense, Ze’ev Landau, said: “The additional order for the factory made in Ashkelon is part of the policy of the Ministry of Defense to promote multi-year procurement transactions, which strengthen the competence of the maneuvering array in the IDF, optimize procurement procedures and strengthen employment in the Ashkelon area.”
The order approved by the Director General of the Ministry of Defense, Colonel (ret.) Eyal Zamir, includes the production of suspension and drive kits for armored combat vehicles (ARVs) of the Merkava Mk 4 tank and Merkava APCs (NAMR) and their supply between the years 2024 and 2027. The ‘Eshat Ashkelon’ factory specializes in the production of propulsion systems for tanks and armored vehicles and is an anchor for the supply of components for the Merkava project. The factory employs approximately 440 workers, with approximately 80% of them residents of Ashkelon, the settlements of the south and surrounding Gaza, and hundreds of suppliers, most of them from the south.
The Merkava (means chariot”) is a series of main battle tanks used by the Israel Defense Forces and the backbone of the IDF’s armored corps. The tank began development in 1970, and its first generation, the Merkava mark I, entered official service in 1979. Four main variants have been deployed. As of 2023, the Merkava mark IV is the latest version. The name “Merkava” was derived from the IDF’s initial development program name. Namer (means “leopard”) is a syllabic abbreviation of “Nagmash” (APC) and “Merkava”, is an Israeli armoured personnel carrier based on a Merkava Mark IV tank chassis. They are more heavily armored than the Merkava IV tanks. According to the IDF, the Namer is the most heavily armored vehicle in the world of any type.