Defense Minister Ya’alon: I see the economic, social, and national aspects as well as the defense aspects of the program.
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/ By Yuval Azulai /
In a few weeks, the Ministry of Defense will resume orders of components for the production of the Merkava tank from the 200 enterprises involved in the program. Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon announced the decision to resume tank production for the IDF Armored Corps during a visit to northern Israel yesterday.
During the visit, Ya’alon met manufacturers involved in the Merkava program from enterprises in Kiryat Shmona, and also Nissim Malka, mayor of the town, and told them of his decision, which was made despite the extensive defense budget cuts, which jeopardized further procurements of the Mekava by the IDF. “I decided that the Merkava production line will not be closed, despite the budget constraints. I don’t see the tank program just from the defense point of view, but also from economic, social, and national points of view. I understand the need for jobs here, ” he said. “The IDF’s tank fleet needs to be renewed, and we are decommissioning old tanks and renewing the fleet with the advanced model of the Merkava. We must not lose our technological capabilities and we will continue to procure Merkava tanks every year, and you will continue to produce them.”
In 2012, the Ministry of Finance slashed its annual budget for procuring Merkava tanks, and it is now about NIS 700 million. Even after the budget cut, the ministry froze orders for components and parts needed to assemble the tank, forcing businesses to lay off many employees. Commenting on this, Ya’alon said, “The delay in orders last year was because there was no approved state budget, and this affected businesses. We’ll begin placing orders on the basis of the current budget immediately and in the future.” He added that he had instructed his staff to examine transferring part of the Merkava production process to Kiryat Shmona and neighboring communities.
In the past few months, managers of businesses from across the country waged a campaign to retain the budget for the Merkava program.
Published by www.globes-online.com