Thursday, October 15, 2009

Armored Vehicles: Nagmachon

The What?
Well, this:

The Nagmachon is an Israel Defence Forces Armored Personnel Carrier. It evloved from earlier NagmaSho't APCs and both are Sho't Kal tank hulls with no turrets, modified to be infantry carriers and specialist vehicles. Manufactured by Israel Military Industries, the Nagmachon was conceived from the beginning as a Counter Insurgency (COIN) vehicle. Nagmachon is an acronym for Nagmash (APC) and gashon (belly).

Th Nagmachon carries 10 infantrymen and has a crew of 3. In line with most other Israeli military design philosophy, it is extremely heavy at nearly 50 tons (almost twice as much as a WWII tank) and sacrifices mobility for protection. This works fine for the IDF, which operates in a small area, but would make the vehicle quite unsuited for expeditionary or maneuver warfare practiced by the United States military. It has extremely heavy armor on the belly to protect it from anti-tank mines and IEDs. Hence the name. Its sides are fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) to counter rocket propelled grenades. The Nagmachon is equipped with four IS-10 grenade launchers. These contain ten smoke grenades each. Early versions fitted three armor panels with vision blocks of bullet resistant glass were attached to the superstructure's roof. Between the panels, two pintle-mounted 7.62 FN MAG (the M240 in U.S. service) machine guns were placed to enable the crew to engage infantry and soft skinned vehicles.

Early version with open shields

As a multi role vehicle, the Nagmachon is sometimes equipped with different engineering devices on its glacis (area of front sloped armor). In conjunction with its specially reinforced belly, this can make it an excellent engineering and anti-mine vehicle. Systems such as the Nochri and Magov anti-mine systems give the Nagmachon the ability to breach mine fields to allow the advance of other vehicles.

Later models were modified with a very notable pillbox on top of the fixed superstructure, providing all round small arms protection.

NagmaSho't and early Namachon

The Nagmachon has been used extensively not only in the Second Intifada, but also in the occupation of Lebanon in the 1980's and the 2006 Lebanon War. It is used as an engineering vehicle to clear lanes for other APCs and vehicles, although it is used primarily as a infantry carrier. Nagmachons are often used to escort the Armored Caterpillar bulldozers on their missions to clear road blocks (and destroy homes). While their protection against small arms fire and older RPGs is good, lack of mobility and light armament hurt the vehicle in many possible scenarios. I would also suspect the elevated superstructure may be extremely vulnerable to the top down attacks of guided antitank weaponry like the IDF encountered in Lebanon in 2006.

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