The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is a military force notable for many things, not least of which is the idiosyncratic and highly effective arsenal it has developed over the years since the founding of Israel in 1948.
As an armed force that routinely sees action inside and outside of its borders, the IDF has had to be endlessly inventive and innovative in order to ensure that they have the right Israeli army weapons for the job.
The result is the weapons that you see below: the top seven Israeli army weapons you probably didn’t even know existed.
Delilah Cruise Missile
This cruise missile/loitering munition was developed by Israel Military Industries and is unique among cruise missiles: instead of having a single target that’s selected before it launches, the Delilah is able to ‘loiter’ (hence the moniker ‘loitering munition’) before honing in on its target and striking.
The Delilah has a range of 250km and strikes to an accuracy of within one meter, making it the perfect choice of missile for precision operations in which collateral damage is to be avoided.
Its loitering capacity makes it more akin to a drone than a dedicated missile, and its ingenious design has proven to be a source of inspiration to allies of Israel looking for their own precision warhead capabilities.
Protector Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV)
Israel has continued to prove that it is an innovator when it comes to automated warfare, whether on land, in the air, or at sea.
The Protector is an example of the IDF’s ingenuity when it comes to the latter; it’s an unmanned surface vehicle that’s remotely piloted by an operator, and it excels when it comes to speed, stealth, and pure firepower.
The Protector sits low in the water, its lack of on-board personnel meaning that it doesn’t really need any space for said personnel.
This makes it lightweight and, in turn, makes it exceptionally speedy, able to reach speeds of 50 knots (57.5mph). This also makes it incredibly maneuverable and stealthy, with a profile that’s hard to spot against the water.
The Protector is so impressive that it’s been sold to several foreign governments; the Singaporeans, in particular, were particularly taken with the craft and have used it extensively for peacekeeping operations in the Persian Gulf.
Iron Dome System
Co-developed in partnership with the USAF, the Iron Dome is an all-weather anti-air system designed to put down incoming missiles and artillery strikes in order to prevent them from hitting populated areas.
The system was first deployed in 2011, and over the next three years, it intercepted a staggering 1200 rockets, with a 90% success rate.
Part of the reason for the Iron Dome’s excellent rate of interception is due to the decentralized nature of each battery.
A single launcher contains 20 anti-air missiles and can be deployed discretely, with a wireless connection providing command oversight.
Each launcher can protect an area of approximately 58 square miles, providing excellent coverage with just a handful of launchers.
However, the Iron Dome is far from perfect, and a recent malfunction saw one of the system’s rockets make a U-turn and strike an Israeli hospital.
IWI Tavor Assault Rifle
This Israeli bullpup assault rifle is a staple of the IDF and is instantly recognizable the world over.
It is so effective that it has provided the basis for a whole family of Tavor weapons and continues to see active use by the IDF.
One of the best features of the Tavor is its customizability. It is able to accommodate a number of accessories, including an M203 grenade launcher, a variety of barrels, folding bipods, and several sights.
The gun is also noted for its ruggedness and reliability. It is waterproofed so as to pass the so-called “over-the-beach” test and is also suited for close-quarters encounters due to its bullpup design.
It’s also suited for either left- or right-handed users, making it extremely adaptable.
Sa’ar 5 Corvette
While unmanned surface craft suffices for many naval operations, sometimes you need something a little larger – and something with actual personnel onboard. That’s where the Sa’ar 5 Corvette comes in.
The Sa’ar (Hebrew for ‘storm’) 5 is, as mentioned, a corvette – the designation for the smallest kind of ‘true’ warship.
While the Sa’ar technically falls into that category, it was actually the largest naval craft under Israeli command until the inception of the bulkier Sa’ar 6. And in terms of firepower, the Sa’ar is able to rival a frigate.
Unusually among Israeli weapons, the Sa’ar 5 was not designed by an Israeli company. Rather, it was an American shipbuilding firm – Huntington Ingalls Industries – that designed and built the ship based on existing Saudi designs.
ATMOS 2000 Howitzer
The Automated Truck Mounted Howitzer System (ATMOS) 2000 is a self-propelled Howitzer manufactured by the Israeli company Soltam Systems.
It is one of the finest examples of a modern howitzer to be found anywhere in the world – with a rugged design that makes it both mobile and suited for any terrain, a first-rate targeting system, and a rapid deployment window, the ATMOS is the ultimate in long-range artillery support.
The ATMOS only needs a crew of four to operate, and it is able to carry more than 120 warheads, making it perfect for protracted engagements.
It also offers greater mobility than howitzers with tracks (rather than wheels), as it does not need to be transported using heavy equipment vehicles (HEVs).
Merkava Battle Tank
The Abrams, T-51s, and Panzers of the world are well-known to even casual tank enthusiasts, but chances are that you’ve never heard of the Merkava – Israel’s own main battle tank.
The Merkava is noted for its powerful anti-tank capabilities – something lacking in even the best of its Western counterparts – and its exceptional mobility for a heavy vehicle like a tank.
The Merkava also features potent countermeasures in the form of the ‘Trophy’ active defense system, wherein an intricate web of radar sensors and micro-projectile dispensers work together to shoot down any incoming projectiles before they so much as touch the tank.
It’s also said to be exceptionally well-suited for urban conflicts, with a complement of 12 smoke grenades to create cover on demand and no less than three machine guns for close-quarters battles.
But despite its prowess for urban combat, it has faced a firestorm during the recent assult into Gaza City where the steel behemonths have made easy targets for Hamas guerillas appearing from underground tunnel networks, as can be seen in the combat footage below:
The List of Israeli Army Weapons is Expected to Grow
We’ve barely scratched the surface of the potent weapons either developed by – or for – the IDF over the past few decades, and we could easily add another ten entries to this article without breaking a sweat.
Did we miss any weapons that you consider some of Israel’s most iconic? Let us know, and we’ll be sure to include them in the next entry!