The design of a new generation MBT began in Israel in the early 1990s, taking into account the experience in the development and production of previous models Mk 1, Mk 2 and Mk 3. As in the case with them, in the development of the Merkava Mk 4 tank, priority was given to increasing the security and survivability of the tank on the battlefield. According to the Israeli press, the first prototypes were sent to the troops for testing in 1999-2001. It was about 3 - 4 prototypes. On June 24, 2002, the new tank was shown to the public for the first time. Data on the number of Merkava Mk 4 tanks manufactured to date have not been published, but according to some data, the assembly rate of these vehicles is about 50 units per year.
The layout of the Mk 4 tank is identical to the previous versions of the Merkava tanks. The fighting compartment and turret are located at the rear of the vehicle, with an access hatch at the rear of the hull. The tower is elliptical at the front and sides. In the roof of the tower there is only a commander's hatch, there is no loader hatch. The control compartment is located on the left in front of the tower. The modular protection installed on the tank includes both active and passive elements. Since ATGMs most often hit tanks in the upper plates, the main focus was on protecting against attacks from above. The loader's hatch has been removed, as the hole in the turret reduces its protection.
The installation of a new engine made it possible to redesign the tank's hull, on which the frontal protection was reinforced. The view from the driver's seat is also improved as there is no longer a bulge on the right front side of the hull. To provide a view to the driver when reversing, a rear-view video camera is installed on the aft part of the hull on the left. It is part of the TST (Tank Sight System) system developed by Vectop and provides observation of the terrain, both in daytime and at night. The tank has four cameras that provide images on any of the four monitors installed in the tank, which makes it possible to conduct 360-degree surveillance.