Designing a future-forward commander’s post in a Merkava tank breaking the paradigm: complex systems must be built for action


Barak is one of Elbit’s flagship projects, and ED&U was fortunate enough to lead this project with our Human Factors Engineering, user experience, and design in the form of planning a post for tank commanders in the IDF’s new Barak Merkava Tank.

The tank commander has one of the most complex and cumbersome roles in the IDF. While pilots are considered to fill demanding roles, it is the tank manager who must manage teams of three, while executing their own operational tasks. The team is completely reliant on the tank commander, and when said tank commander has additional titles, they are further charged with additional responsibilities pertaining to managing additional tanks, in addition to their own.

The system we designed was based on three main components: a touch screen, a handheld joystick, and a smart visor that integrated augmented reality (AR) technology, enabling the tank commander to see outside of the tank, without dangerously and unnecessarily sticking their head outside.


Tank commanders experience massive cognitive overload, as pertaining to the scope of the tasks they must oversee, as well as to the information and communications they must manage.

The project required that certain components in the operational environment be unified, and that new capabilities be added to the system. Our goal as a design and Human Factors Engineering team was to make necessary information available and accessible to the tank commander, so that their load would be reduced, enabling them to share knowledge and delegate tasks to other team members. 


  • ED&U’s Human Factors Engineer, Ergonomist, and UX/UI designers
  • Elbit’s System Engineers, Software team and Mechanical Designers
  • Additional partners: Studio Kubiya, Studio Yaron Loubaton – prototype development


Our work process included field user research, definition and designing of all system’s interactive components, generation of a prototype to accompany the design and development process, and executing ongoing usability testing. The tank commanders, the system’s future “customers,” were full partners in this process, in terms of sharing knowledge and practical experience.

We began by analyzing and mapping the tank commander’s activities, as well as ergonomic considerations and how teamwork plays out in the real environment in which he acts.

Throughout the design process, we utilized the prototype we’d developed, which helped us with our definition and usability testing of all of the components at once – the touch screen, joystick and smart visor. The prototype was set entirely in a virtual reality environment, which enabled us to make progress on all three trajectories at once, even before we’d completed the technology’s planning stage.


One centralized place for all of the tank’s system operations and management. 

We created a central post that enabled centralized operations and management from a single place, from where the tank commander can continuously lead operations and control battle outcomes (to the best of his ability), with minimal risk to his life. All of the system’s components could be synchronized: the joystick, screen, and smart visor.


  • The commander can keep his head in the tank – reduced risk of injury
  • Reduced cognitive load on the tank commander’s shoulders
  • Improved situational awareness in the field
  • Improved communication and synchronization between tools in the field.



Images source: Israel Defense Forces, Spokesperson unit