IMI 120 mm gun

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IMI 120 mm MG251 & MG253 tank gun
MG253 tank gun.jpg
MG253 tank gun
Type smoothbore tank gun
Place of origin Israel
Service history
In service

  • MG251: 1989[1]–present
  • MG253: 2003–present
Used by see the operators section
Production history
Manufacturer Israeli Military Industries
Weight 2,900 kilograms (6,400 lb)[2]
Length 5.3 meters (17 ft)[2]

Caliber 120-millimeter (4.7 in)[2]

  • MG251: 300 millimeters (12 in)[2]
  • MG253: 430 millimeters (17 in)[2]

The IMI 120 mm gun is an L44 smoothbore tank gun designed and produced by Israeli Military Industries (IMI). It is widely confused as a licensed production of the Rheinmetall L44 tank gun, however it was developed by IMI from 1983 to 1988, to meet the requirements of the Israel Defense Forces' Merkava Mark III main battle tank.

It was first revealed in 1989 when it was shown to be the main armament of the Merkava Mark III. In 1990 the Israel Defense Prize was awarded to Israeli Military Industries for this development, which gave Israel the means to produce tank guns independently.


This tank gun is very similar to the Rheinmetall L44 versions installed on the German Leopard 2, American M1 Abrams, South Korean K1A1, and Japanese Type 90 main battle tanks. However, it has a different recoil system, consisting of an optimized concentric retarder and pneumatic recuperator, and more compact overall dimensions, not exceeding those of the existing 105 mm Royal Ordnance M68 105 mm rifled gun of the Merkava Marks I and II, and the M60 Patton.


There are two versions of the IMI 120 mm gun: the MG251, fitted with a thermal sleeve developed by Vishay Intertechnology and provided with a fume extractor which can be removed for maintenance without disturbing the actual sleeve, and the MG253, with a thermal sleeve developed by Vidco Industries and a new compressed gas recoil system.

They fire a family of ammunition developed by IMI, can fire French, German or US 120 mm NATO ammunition if required, and also fire the LAHAT anti-tank guided missile.

Different shells for IMI 120-mm gun. 
Muzzle flash of the IMI 120 mm gun. 


Map with IMI 120mm operators in blue

Current operators[edit]

See also[edit]

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era