Elmo Motion Control has announced that it is completing the upgrade of the turret control systems on the entire fleet of the Israeli Merkava Mark III tanks. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) chose Elmo’s Gold Eagle servo drives for use in the prestigious Israeli Merkava tanks after a demanding set of testing both in the lab and in the field.
The Merkava is the main battle tank of the IDF and some variation of it has been in service since 1978. The tank focuses on the safety and protection of the crew and features a turret-driving system that is completely independent from the hull. This system enables the Merkava turret to focus on a moving target while the tank is on the move.
The Gold Eagle, responsible for the Merkava’s turret control, is a rugged and ultra-high current servo drive with 550 amps of continuous current output and an input voltage of up to 100 volts. This makes the Gold Eagle an optimal solution for battery-operated applications, including armored vehicles. The standard Gold Eagle servo drive has a wide voltage range from 11 to 94 volts, which meets the demanding requirements of the Merkava tank’s power supply. The servo drives’ high bandwidth and servo algorithms accommodated the tank’s stringent requirements and provide precise control of its turret’s azimuth and elevation functionality, even in the extreme conditions in which the tanks operate.
Haim Monhait, chief executive officer, Elmo Motion Control, said, “It is a great honor to be part of the Merkava tank family. Controlling this tank’s turret is one of the most demanding applications for a servo drive. We demonstrated with great success that our off-the-shelf, smart servo drives meet and exceed this challenge, continuing to prove that our rugged line of products can be effective in any application and operate in any environment.”
By using standard, intelligent, off-the-shelf and ready-to-use Gold Eagle servo drives, combined with the Elmo Application Studio II (EASII) software tool, the IDF avoided at least two years of alternate product development and saved millions of dollars in development costs. Elmo’s solution was controlling the turret at full performance within only eight weeks of implementation and cost 65% less than other solutions presented to the IDF.
The powerful and compact Gold Eagle reduced the size and weight of the servo drives by 70%. Elmo’s unique servo drive technology enables optimum servo performance with negligible EMI and utmost efficiency. The smaller drive size eliminated the need for locating the servo drives throughout the vehicle, thus reducing cabling and simplifying implementation, and contributing to high system reliability.
The Gold Eagle assembly used by the Merkava successfully withstands the simulated extreme condition field tests. The IDF conducted qualification and proof of reliability tests to comply with the most severe standards, such as MIL STD 810, MIL STD 461, MIL STD 1275, and MIL HDBK-217. It also executed a highly accelerated life test (HALT) with ambient temperature from -75° C (-103° F) up to 110° C (230° F) and mechanical vibrations up to 30 GRMS, and accumulated hundreds of thousands of field operating hours in one of the most demanding environments that can be found in the field.
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