Israel-Hamas war: Delivery of Mercedes IDF tank carriers speeds up


The supply of IDF military vehicles that won Defense Ministry tenders is being sped up, in parallel with the emergency procurement of new patrol and combat vehicles for the IDF from the United States, amid the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza.

As reported by Walla, Colmobil, a Mercedes importer, has won two major tenders for the supply of tow trucks used for transporting tanks and APCs, as well as other cargo. This purchase includes nearly 500 trucks.

The delivery of these trucks has been expedited since the outbreak of the war with Hamas in Gaza, as the IDF has an increased need for new tow trucks to transport tanks from emergency warehouses and training grounds to areas in both the South and North.

Simultaneously, the Defense Ministry has flown in around 30 Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 ambulances from the US. These ambulances were secured through the ministry’s tender process two years ago. Since they are manufactured in the US, they can be purchased using the US defense aid budget, unlike the trucks that are bought using the ministry’s budget.

Why is the IDF importing Mercedes tow trucks to transport their tanks?

The IDF had previously received a series of Actros model tow trucks approximately 15 years ago, equipped with 537 horsepower and 6×6 drive. The current model will have more powerful engines, exceeding 600 horsepower, an improved cabin, and safety features that were not previously offered but are now required by European regulations for heavy trucks, including autonomous emergency braking.

The new Mercedes Sprinter ambulances (Credit: Calmobile)

This marks a change in direction at the Defense Ministry and the IDF. Following Operation Protective Edge, an emergency procurement of tow trucks was made, initially opting for a Volvo FH16. Subsequently, Navistar International i5900 tow heads were purchased, also featuring a 6×6 drive, a 600 horsepower engine, and an 18-gear gearbox.

The decision to purchase US tow trucks served two purposes: utilizing the US military aid budget and achieving budgetary savings due to the comparatively lower cost of US trucks compared to European ones. The 90 tow trucks cost $28 million at the time.

However, a report by the Defense Ministry auditor stated that “The equipment does not meet certain threshold requirements and is of inferior quality and safety.” When the first tank carriers arrived in Israel, it became evident that they did not perform as promised, leading Navistar to make mechanical changes to their gearbox, further delaying the delivery’s completion.

Despite these efforts, the IDF was disappointed with the performance of the American tow trucks, using them primarily for transporting armored vehicles and other cargo.

Following this, the Defense Ministry and the IDF decided to revert back to purchasing European tow trucks, considering the past successes with Volvo and Mercedes.