By 1997, the M60 tank design was almost 40 years old and was gradually being phased out in favor of the newer M1 Abrams tank. However, the M60, manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems Division, had an impressive production run of approximately 15,000 units during its peak.
Although the M60 has been retired from the U.S. military, it is still operational in the armies of almost 20 different countries, including Egypt, Turkey, Taiwan, and Thailand, with more than 5,000 examples still in use. This presents an opportunity for upgrades and modernization. Raytheon, a defense company, has introduced the Service-Life Extension Package (SLEP) for the M60, which includes an upgraded engine with 200 additional horsepower, a digital targeting system, and a larger 120-millimeter gun borrowed from the current Abrams tank.
Another company, Israel Military Industries, has also developed upgrades for the M60, known as the Sabra. Similar to the SLEP package, the Sabra offers a more powerful engine and a 120-millimeter gun. However, it goes the extra mile by providing additional armor plating, addressing a long-standing criticism of the M60’s turret for being too tall and vulnerable. The added armor gives the turret a more streamlined and angled shape.
Despite these improvements, the M60 falls short of modern protective standards. Nevertheless, it continues to be favored by foreign militaries, possibly due to its cost-effectiveness. The fact that the M60 remains a viable option in today’s warfare speaks to its solid design and reliability.
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