The IDF Caterpillar D9 Engineer Dozer Background
The Caterpillar D9 is a large track-type tractor designed and manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. Though it comes in many configurations it is usually sold as a bulldozer equipped with a detachable large blade and a rear ripper attachment. It has also been exported to many nations for use in the construction industry and one such nation was Israel in the 1950’s.
The Israeli Defence Force learnt very quickly the value of the vehicle, as it could clear mine fields, tank traps/obstacles and rescue AFV’s by pushing them to safety during the earlier 6 Day War of 1967 and Yom Kippur War of 1973.
The IDF Caterpillar D9 Engineer Dozer is operated by the Engineer Corps of the IDF, the vehicles saw the addition of Israeli designed armour packages to protect the 2 man crew. This included an armoured cab with smaller bullet proof windows, protection over the engine section and later on bar armour around the new cab for protection against RPG-7 attack. The vehicles heavy and thick design had made it ideal in later years for the destruction of IED’s that would have damaged AFV’s.
During other conflicts, the vehicle was used to demolish homes and other residential properties in Palestinian occupied area’s that were being used by insurgents and other combatants as firing positions or spotters for mortar/rocket attacks against Israeli residential area’s.
They would often be used to knock down fortified dwellings that were occupied by insurgents and other combatants, that would prove to dangerous and greater loss of life for soldiers to storm and clear out.
During the early 2000s, the new D9R entered IDF service, equipped with a new generation armour designed by the IDF’s MASHA (Restoration and Maintenance Centre), Israel Aerospace Industries and Zoko Shiloovim (Caterpillar Inc. importers in Israel).
The IDF also operates armoured remote-controlled D9N bulldozers, called “Raam HaShachar” meaning “Thunder of Dawn”.