M60 main battle tanks are manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems Division. Credit: Denise Krebs,
The battle tank is equipped with Raytheon fire control system. Image courtesy of Peter Trimming.
M60 is equipped with 105mm M68 rifled gun which can fire 63 rounds. Image courtesy of jimflix!
Mine-clearance systems fitted onboard is used in wartime and in post-war periods. Image courtesy of Richard Elzey.

The M60 is one of the world’s most successful main battle tanks with 15,000 having been produced and serving in the armies of 22 countries.

The tank has provided proven battlefield performance over four decades and has been continuously advanced and upgraded with advanced weapon control, ammunition, applique armour and increasingly powerful engines. The M60 series main battle tanks of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the US were deployed in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 during the Gulf Crisis.

M60 tanks entered service with the US Army in 1960. The M60A1 with a new turret, thicker armour and a new ammunition stowage system, was manufactured from 1962 to 1980. The development of the M60A2 with a new turret fitted with a 152mm gun and missile launcher was halted and effort was directed to the development and production of the highly successful M60A3 tank, which incorporated improvements to the gunfire control and entered service in 1978.

The manufacturer, General Dynamics Land Systems Division, has ceased production of the tank but continues to provide fleet management support to the US Army Tank Automotive Command and to user countries worldwide.

The US Army phased M60A3 out of service in 1997 and it was superseded by M1 Abrams, a third-generation main battle tank.

As of 2010, Egypt is operating around 1,700 upgraded M60A3s while Turkey and Israel are operating 900 and 700 units respectively.

M60 main battle tank upgrades

An international team of contractors have developed an upgrade package for the M60 tank and for the M60 armoured vehicle launch bridge. The team includes General Dynamics Land Systems based in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Allison Transmission in Indianapolis and Nimda Company based in Givataim, Israel.

GDLS has built a prototype of the 120S MBT, which is an M1A1 turret mounted on an upgraded M60 chassis. The 120S is armed with a 120mm M256 smoothbore gun and has a computerised fire control system.

Raytheon upgraded 180 M60A3 tanks of the armed services of Jordan with the integrated fire control systems (IFCS), which took the tank to Phoenix level 1 standard.

IFCS includes HIRE II second-generation thermal imaging gunner’s sight, ELITE II eyesafe laser rangefinder and General Dynamics Canada digital ballistic computer. The MBTs are also being fitted with Ruag Land Systems L50 120mm smoothbore compact tank gun.

Leonardo developed an upgrade solution for the MBT to enable greater mobility and survivability, and increased lethality. The improvements include a new main gun, advanced power systems and fire control systems, and better protection systems.

M60 tank weapons

The main gun is the 105mm M68 rifled gun with 63 rounds of ammunition. The gun is fully stabilised in the elevation and traverse axes, and is fitted with a thermal sleeve. Both gunner and commander are able to fire the gun and select the type of ammunition to be fired. The coaxial weapon is the 7.62mm M240 machine gun.

The tank has two smoke generation systems, an engine exhaust smoke system which sprays fuel into the exhaust manifold, and two six-barrelled smoke grenade launchers which are fitted on either side of the turret.

Fire control of M60A3 tank

The tank is fitted with a Raytheon fire control system including an AN/WG-2 eyesafe laser rangefinder and M21 ballistic computer. The gunner’s sight is boresighted with the laser rangefinder.

The tank’s M21 fire control computer senses the type of ammunition, which has been selected. The gunner provides the input data for the air temperature and pressure. Other input data is downloaded from various sensors: the target range from the laser rangefinder and cant, crosswind, and inertial tracking rates from the gun stabilisation unit. This allows accurate engagement against moving targets while the tank is on the move.

Continental AVDS-1790-2C 12 cylinder engine

The Continental AVDS-1790-2C 12 cylinder air-cooled diesel engine provides 750 bhp at a rotational speed of 2,400rpm. The M60A3 tank achieves a maximum cross-country speed of 10mph to 12mph and up to 30mph roadspeed. The cruise range is 312 miles.

The vehicle is able to negotiate vertical steps up to 36in, gradients up to 60% and side slopes up to 30%.

The tank can cross water up to 48in in depth without preparation and up to 90in in depth using the fording kit.

M60A3 hull

The ballistic-shaped turret is cast while the hull is cast and welded. The crew are provided with a nuclear biological and chemical warfare protection system and a fire detection and halon gas fire extinguishing system.

M60 mine clearance systems

M60 tanks have been fitted with mine-clearance systems for use in wartime and in post-war periods of de-escalation of hostilities for the reclamation of land for safe use. The Pearson engineer mine plough contains a magnetic signature device, the Demeter, to explode magnetically influenced anti-tank mines ahead and to the side of the vehicle. At each side at the rear of the M60 tank the Pearson Pathfinder minefield marking system marks the cleared safe lane.