Merkava 4 Tank
Merkava 4 TankIsrael news photo: IDF

As is usually done on planes, the IDF has equipped many of its tanks with data recorder “black boxes” that will record vital information on the tank's movements and status – even its fuel usage. With the data provided by the box, the IDF will have an easier time repairing mechanical and technical problems in tanks, and the various changes to the tank and its hardware during various operations. “It's a small change that can a very big impact,” an IDF official said Tuesday.

The decision to install the boxes in tanks stems from an accident in 2005, when a tank flipped over during a practice drill, killing an officer. The accident was an impetus for military officials to think more deeply about the Merkava tanks, the ones principally used by the IDF, and to figure out ways to get more information about a tanks' status in the field. After much work, an army spokesperson said, engineers had come up with a “black box” device that records the tank's behavior in a variety of situations and conditions – for example, the amount of fuel it uses when it is climbing a hill at a certain speed. “The system records what is going on inside the tank, and the conditions outside the tank as well,” the spokesperson said.

In the event of a tank accident, analysts can determine from the data if there were any external factors that caused the problem, if it was the result of human error, a mechanical problem, etc. By collating the data and comparing it, analysts can determine if there is a problem with the tank under specific circumstances – and plan future missions to avoid problems or repair tanks, based on the accurate information recorded by the boxes.