According to a report in Defense News, the decision is intended to assure that jobs associated with production of the tank stay in Israel, and to provide additional revenue to Israel's military. The Defense Minister recently announced that the Namer (Leopard) heavy armored personal carrier (APC) would soon be produced in the United States, not in Israel, leading to concerns that jobs would be lost.
Israel will coordinate Merkava orders – which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis – with the United States. U.S. military aid to Israel finances the steel, raw materials, engine and certain other components of the tanks.
The Merkava ("Chariot") was conceived in the 1960s, with the first models joining the battlefield in 1978. The Merkava Mark IV is optimized for urban combat, with improved armor and a state-of-the-art digital battlefield management system, and is considered to be one of the world's most advanced and secure tanks.