The Sabra main battle tank is a modernised upgraded M60A3, developed by Israel Military Industries Slavin heavy weapons plant at Ramat Hasharon. As with all upgrade programmes the scope of a Sabra upgrade package is customised to meet a particular country’s operational requirements.
170 Turkish Army M60 tanks are to be upgraded with the Sabra mkII package. The first prototype was delivered in November 2005. The first production tank was delivered in 2007. Delivery of the upgraded tanks was completed in 2009.
Sabra main battle tank armament
The Sabra’s main armament is a 120mm smooth-bore gun, which is similar to the gun developed by Israel Military Industries (formerly TAAS) for the Merkava mk3 main battle tank.
The gun is fitted with a fume extractor and a thermal sleeve for reduction of wear and to maximise the first round hit probability by reducing thermally induced distortion of the barrel. Stowage is provided for 42 rounds of ammunition.
The gun has greater range and armour-penetrating capability than the 105mm gun installed on the M60 MBT. The gun is capable of firing Nato-standard 120mm smooth-bore ammunition including armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds.
The co-axial machine gun is either 7.62mm or 5.56mm. The 60mm mortar system is supplied by Soltam Ltd based in Haifa.
The Sabra is equipped with an automatic fire and explosion suppression system, a threat warning system and smoke grenade launchers.
The tank is fitted with modular passive armour protection, which is upgraded to explosive reactive armour in the Sabra mkII.
Fire control and observation
The hybrid turret and gun control system consists of a hydraulic elevation drive and an electric traverse drive. The Sabra II upgrade for Turkey includes an all-electric gun control system.
The tank is equipped with a Knight computerised fire control system supplied by El-Op (Electro-Optics) Industries Ltd of Rehovot and and Elbit Systems of Haifa. The fire control system is integrated into the turret control and actively controls the turret dynamics.
The line-of-sight stabilisation in elevation and azimuth provides high hit probability for stationary and on-the-move engagements against both stationary and moving targets. The system has four modes of operation: stabilised mode with the gun axis slaved to the line of sight, slaved mode where the gunner’s line of sight is slaved to the gun axis, a non-stabilised mode and a back-up mode with manual operation for emergency use.
The gun can be laid and fired by the gunner or the commander. The gunner’s station is equipped with a periscopic x8 magnification day sight and ×5.3 magnification night sight supplied by El-Op. The sight is stabilised in two axes. The eyesafe Nd:YAG laser rangefinder operates over a range typically 200m to 9,995m with an accuracy of ±5m.
The Sabra engine is the air-cooled AVDS-1790-5A four-stroke diesel engine by General Dynamics, developing 908hp at 2,400rpm, which represents a gross power to combat weight ratio of 16.5hp/t.
The upgrade package for the Turkish M60A3s includes the 1,000hp MTU 881 diesel engine with Renk 304 automatic transmission, allowing a maximum road speed of 55km/h.
The running gear has been upgraded for cross-country mobility and features six road wheels on each side, trailing arm suspension, torsion bar springs, piston dampers, three-per-side piston bumpers and single-pin steel tracks.
The Sabra provides a maximum road speed of 48km/h and accelerates from 0km/h to 32km/h in 9.6 seconds. The range on hard level ground is 450km. The tank can negotiate slopes of gradient 60%, side slopes of 30%, 2.60m trenches, and 0.91m obstacle height. The fording depth without preparation is 1.40m and with preparation 2.40m.