War Machines: The M-60 Patton Tank Gets Re-Invented for the 21st Century Battlefield


Raytheon wants to upgrade U.S.-made tanks from the 1960s

Raytheon is pitching a new upgrade for the venerable M-60A3 Patton main battle tank that would turn the elderly design into a competitive force on the modern battlefield — all at a fraction of the cost of a new vehicle.

Named the Raytheon M-60A3 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), the upgrade is being offered for export to nations that need the performance to take on threats like a Russian-built T-90S, but can’t afford a top-of-the-line machine like the M-1A2 SEP(v)3 Abrams or Leopard 2A7.

At the core of the upgrade is a new 950-horsepower diesel engine — which replaces the original 750-horsepower unit. As part of the deal, the engine would be reconditioned to a zero hour condition. Meanwhile, the old turret hydraulic controls would be replaced with new electrical systems, which are faster, more responsive and quieter than their predecessors.

Offensive firepower is exponentially improved by swapping out the old 105-millimeter M-68 rifled gun in favor of the Abrams’ German-made L44 120-millimeter smoothbore cannon. The addition of the new weapon would give the M-60A3 the ability to engage enemy tanks as advanced as the T-90MS on a near equal footing.

In fact, with the upgrade, the M-60 probably outperforms older M-1A1 variants.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring