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Israel’s new multimillion-dollar AI tank provides total battlefield vision: ‘A new era’

Israel unveiled the “Barak” tank as its newest artificial intelligence (AI)-powered military advancement, promising a “new era” in combat capabilities.

“The Barak tank is very innovative – it takes our maneuvering capabilities to another level, and it is a clear expression of our technological capabilities,” Israeli Minister of Defense (IMOD) Yoav Gallant said of the tank, whose name translates to “lightning.”

“I would like to express my appreciation to the engineers of the Tank and APC Administration, the Israeli Ground Forces and all those involved in the professional process,” he added.

The fifth-generation Barak tank introduces a 360-degree awareness capability, giving a total vision of the battlefield. In a video that features animated segments to demonstrate the tank’s potential, an IDF operator is able to identify targets both in front and behind his tank thanks to a specially designed helmet that helps him filter battlefield data.

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The tank also seamlessly communicates the information to another nearby tank, which can immediately respond to the data and identify the target instead.

Military Israel deployment

The first Barak tanks are delivered to the IDF for testing and deployment into the 401st Armored Brigade. (Israeli Ministry of Defense)

Tank crews will have touchscreen devices to help them make use of “unique” applications with which operators will have greater familiarity as time goes on. 

The Barak also possesses “advanced observation and night capabilities” that allow tank crews to engage in close-range combat, thanks to the improved and up-to-date intelligence collection and sharing made possible by a new wide and reliable “sensor infrastructure” with the ability to more precisely analyze terrain. 

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Israeli military commanders stressed the continued value of tanks in the military, with IMOD Director-General (reserves) Eyal Zamir calling tanks “the backbone of the Armored Corps and on-ground fighting.” 

IDF armored brigade

A computer animated simulation of the “total vision” the Barak can achieve on the battlefield. (Israeli Ministry of Defense)

However, he noted that the Barak created a “new era” for combat and a “breakthrough on the modern battlefield.”

Brig. Gen. Oren Giber, the head of the Defense Merkava and Armored Vehicles Directorate, said the Barak sets a “very high standard of technological excellence” for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) thanks to “a unique weapon system,” the “high-quality” technology added to it, and “built-in flexibility.” 

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The tank’s cost remains undisclosed, but Defense News noted officials equated it to costing roughly as much as the Merkava 4M, which costs around $3.5 million despite the technological advancements and additions to the Barak.

Artificial intelligence combat

The IDF’s new artificial intelligence-powered Barak tank. (Israeli Ministry of Defense)

The Barak took five years to develop and mass production started last month. The tank’s unveiling occurred some two decades after the Merkava’s introduction, which officials believe the Barak will replace by the end of 2025 in the 401st Brigade. 

Officials also plan to produce “dozens” of tanks each year to further update the force.

“In the last year, the 401st Armored Brigade dealt with the absorption and assimilation of the Barak Tank into the brigade,” said Col. Beni Aharon, commanding officer of the 401st Armored Brigade.

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“The brigade invested in learning the capabilities of the tank against the nature of combat and its use in battle, in the training of the crew members and those in charge, and in the cooperation of the tank with other advanced anti-tank weapons,” he explained, adding that the brigade saw the addition of the Barak as a “tremendous opportunity” to improve operational effectiveness.

“The 401st Armored Brigade sees the Barak tank as a historic event and a national mission for victory in the next campaign,” he added. “We were privileged to be the first armored brigade to receive the Barak tank and, therefore, a great responsibility rests on our shoulders – our mission is to fulfill it with distinction.”

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