The Merkava is a series of main battle tanks used by the Israel Defense Forces and is the backbone of the IDF's armored corps. The tank began development in 1970, and its first generation - the Merkava mark 1 - entered official service in 1979. Four main variants have been deployed, with the Merkava mark 4 being the latest version. The Merkava was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War. The name "Merkava" was derived from the IDF's initial development program name.
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