September 19, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Rolls Out New AI-Enabled Battle Tank

September 19, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Rolls Out New AI-Enabled Battle Tank

Latest Developments

Israel rolled out its new main battle tank on September 19, with features including AI-assisted combat technologies. The Barak (“Lightning”) has been formally incorporated in the Israeli military’s 52nd Armored Battalion of the 401st Brigade after undergoing testing there since January, the Israeli Defense Ministry said. The Barak will eventually phase out the Merkava (“Chariot”), which has been Israel’s main battle tank for four decades. The models share some external characteristics, such as a sloping turret, but the Barak, which was in development for five years, breaks new ground technologically with a range of new Israeli-made features.

Its commander’s helmet resembles that of a fighter pilot, with a head-up display linked to exterior cameras that will allow the commander to “view” the surroundings of the tank while being entirely concealed from fire within. The resulting “hatch-down” fighting capability will help prevent crew casualties, especially within the crowded confines of an urban environment. The Barak will also use artificial intelligence to streamline the target-acquisition and target-engagement process as well as the workload on each of the four crew members. This feature will enable the tank to “learn” and adapt to new battlefields independently.

Expert Analysis

“Israel has said it intends to be an ‘AI superpower’ and is proving this in defense — the natural and necessary springboard for its technological innovations. The Barak’s design suggests that the Israelis are keeping their eyes on southern Lebanon and Gaza, whose terrorists pose specific threats to mechanized ground forces.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“This is good news and reflects the Israeli defense industrial base’s position, alongside that of the United States, as the emerging technology leader. Similar systems are key to development of air and maritime capabilities and will allow the United States and Israel to pace their adversaries’ capabilities.” — Mark Montogomery, FDD Senior Fellow and Senior Director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation

“A half century ago during the Yom Kippur war, the IDF defended its borders with tanks. The tank commanders performed acts of bravery that have become legend in Israel, while sustaining heavy losses in their ranks. It is symbolic that on the 50-year anniversary of the war, Israel has produced a state-of-the-art tank that will add layers of protection to IDF soldiers while defending the Jewish state.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

U.S. Green-Lights Israel’s Arrow-3 Sale to Germany,” FDD Flash Brief

How to increase deterrence messaging to Iran with the next US-Israel military exercise,” by Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst


Israel Military and Political Power