- 1 In-game vehicles
- 2 Development
- 3 Design
- 4 Variants
- 5 Operators
- 6 Media
105 mm M68 Gun
To determine the main gun of the XM60, a competition was held to test six different guns at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. All six were evaluated for accuracy, rate of fire, post-penetration damage, and penetration. The first gun evaluated was the 90 mm M41, mounted on the M48A2C, with the T300E53 HEAT round. The 90 mm T208E9 was mounted on the T95E1 and used the T320E62 APDS round. The 105 mm T254E1 (a US version of the L7) was mounted on the T95E2 to test British APDS ammunition. The 120 mm M58 from the M103 was tested, and so was the 120 mm T123E6, a lighter version of the M58, and it was mounted on the T95E4.
The T123E6 was preferred by Ordnance Department because it had ammunition that was similar to that already in production for the M58. It used two-piece ammunition, with the shell and propellant charges being separate. Because of this, the M103 design incorporated two loaders, but this would be impossible on a smaller medium tank. A rate of fire of only four rounds per minute was achieved during testing, which was unacceptable. The 105 mm T254E1 achieved a fire rate of 7 rounds per minute.
The T254E1 was selected, and it was modified to the T254E2, which used a sliding breechblock instead of the original horizontal breechblock.. The T254E2 became standardized as the Cannon, 105 mm Gun, M68. The barrel used was the British X15/L52, as American barrels were not available at the time with the same amount of accuracy. Starting in June of 1959, the American XM24/L52 barrels replaced the British barrels in production, but they were still interchangeable. The evacuator was located lower on the American gun barrels, so they were fitted with an eccentric evacuator instead of a concentric evacuator in order to increase clearance over the rear engine deck.
The M60 used the M68 gun in the M116 mount, while the later M60A1 and M60A3 along with the early XM-1 prototype used the M60E1 gun. The M60E1 shares firing characteristics with the original M68, but it has a number of improvements. The M60E1 has a new hydraulic configuration, a stabilization upgrade, an elevation kill switch, an improved ballistic drive, and other minor improvements. The M68 was later fitted on M48A3 tanks in service with the National Guard, which were then redesignated as the M48A5. In 1973, thermal sleeves began to be used on the gun barrels.
- Practice APDS
- Dummy APDS
- White Phosphorous Rounds
- Canister Rounds
The T95E5 turret was used on the first production M60. It was shaped like a hemisphere, and was well rounded; it looked very similar to the turret of the preceding M48 Patton III. The M60A1 series had a new turret which came from the T95E7. The T95E7 turret was significantly different from the T95E5 turret and it had a redesigned bustle, which allowed more ammunition to be carried. The M60A2 had a completely redesigned turret for the mounting of the 152mm M162 gun. The M60A3 series used a turret based on the T95E7 turret, but it featured increased frontal armour protection.
In 1960, work was started to upgrade the M60 main battle tank, as the T95 project and the project to create composite armour were closed. The prototypes fitted the T95E7 turret on the hull of the M60. In order to increase the room in the turret for the crew the gun used the M140 mount, which moved the gun forward 5 inches. The first two prototypes (Pilot 1 and 2) were ready in May 1961, and the third prototype (Pilot 3) was ready in June 1961. The prototypes were designated as the M60E1, and they were all built by Chrysler Defense. Pilot 1 was tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Pilot 2 was tested at Yuma Test Station, and Pilot 3 was tested at Fort Knox. The M60E1 was accepted for American service on 22 October 1962. The designation for production M60E1 tanks was Tank, Combat, Full Tracked: 105-mm Gun, M60A1. Production began on 13 October 1962, with an order of 720 units by the Army.
The upper glacis armour of the hull was upgraded from 3.67 inches to 4.29 inches at 65°. The steering wheel was replaced with a T-bar control, and the break and accelerator pedals were rearranged for easier usage by the driver. The tank was upgraded to the Continental AVDS-1790-2A engine and the CD-850-5 cross drive transmission, and it used the T97 track assembly. The first return roller was moved slightly, and shock absorbers were added to the second road wheel pair. The addition of the shock absorbers was due to the increased weight of the armour and new M60A1 turret.
The main feature of the M60A1 was a new turret, which was the turret of the T95E7 medium tank prototype. The new turret had more armour protection, and it also could had more room for the crew, because of the new M140 gun mount. A fume extractor was added to the rear of the turret bustle, on the left side; this would prevent fumes and smoke from accumulating inside the vehicle when the weapons were fired. The loader and gunner received padded seats, replacing the wire mesh seats which were uncomfortable. Ammunition for the main gun was increased to 63 rounds, with 15 rounds in the turret bustle, several rounds in the turret ring, and the rest stored in the hull. The turret was equipped with a new traversing mechanism, and an AN/VSS-1(V)1 IR searchlight was fitted above the gun mantlet. It received the M19 FCS, which consisted of the M17A1 coincidence rangefinder, M10A1 ballistic drive, and the mechanical M19E1 ballistic computer for the gunner. The M60A1 tank uses the M68E1 105 mm gun. The M68E1 gun shared the same firing characteristics as the M68, but had several design improvements including an updated gun hydraulic configuration, a stabilization upgrade for the gun (but not a full stabilizer), a gun elevation kill switch for the loader, an improved ballistic drive, and other component refinements.
In 1972, the M60A1 (AOS) was introduced, which gave the tank an add-on stabilization (AOS) system. It was a kit that could be applied to M60A1 tanks with very little modification to the hydraulic gun control system. The AOS allows for stabilization of the gun vertically and of the turret horizontally. This allowed the gunner to track targets and control the gun and turret while the vehicle was moving; this increased the hit-on-the-move capability significantly. Before the AOS upgrade the fire-on-the-move accuracy at 2,000 m was practically 0%, whereas with the upgrade 70% accuracy was achieved. The AOS had three modes: power-with-stabilization-on, power-with-stabilization-off, and manual. Power-with-stabilization-on was the mode which stabilized the gun, power-with-stabilization-off allowed the turret to be controlled electrically when the stabilizer was not necessary, and the manual mode allowed the crew to still traverse the turret and elevate the gun if the electrical or hydraulic systems were inoperable.
M60A1 (AOS)+ is the designation for M60A1 tanks that were equipped with the TLAC, AOS, and T142 tracks. The T142 track debuted in 1974, and it had replaceable rubber pads, improved end connectors, and had a better service life.
The M60A1 RISE integrated the upgrades of the M60A1 (AOS)+ and TLAC, along with new features, and it first debuted in 1975. It featured the improved AVDS-1790-2C RISE diesel engine and CD-850-6 transmission. These parts were more reliable than the earlier types used. A 650 ampere oil-cooled alternator, a solid state regulator and new wiring harness with more accessible disconnectors was also incorporated into the hull's electrical system. Additionally, steel road wheels and return rollers were used, and new, armoured TLAC panels replaced the unarmoured panels. It featured an M32E1 passive sight for the gunner, an M36E1 passive periscope for the commander, and an M24E1 IR night vision block for the driver. The new optical equipment allowed for recognition at longer range and at lower light levels for the commander and gunner. In conditions with only starlight, the optics allowed for vision past 500 m with the use of an IR searchlight. The driver's M24E1 IR night vision block gave the driver second generation night vision capability.
The usage of the M735 APFSDS round required a cam update to the gun's mechanical ballistic drive in order to allow for accurate firing. With the update the tanks were designated as M60A1 RISE+.
M60A1 RISE Passive
The Passive upgrade for the M60A1 RISE incorporated all the features of the M60A1 RISE+, but with a number of improvements. It was equipped with Kevlar spall liners in the turret, AN/VVS-2 passive night vision block, a deep water fording kit, and brackets for the mounting of ERA armour. It received the improved AVDS-1790-2D RISE engine and CD-850-6A transmission; it was capable of using a vehicle engine exhaust smoke system. The VEESS smoke screen does not protect against infrared, thermal, or laser detection methods, but only obscures the tank visually. In 1978, a kit entered service that installed an M240C machine gun in the coaxial position, and it equipped the tank with two six-barreled M239 smoke grenade launchers (electronically fired), with one mounted on each side of the turret front. The smoke grenades masks the tank both visually and the thermal signature using a phosphor compound.
The official full name of the M60A3 was Tank, Combat, Full Tracked: 105-mm Gun, M60A3. It was also known as the 105 mm Gun Tank M60A3.
During the 1970's there was a rapid advancement in anti-tank technology, and with the failure of the M60A2 program to produce a sufficient fighting vehicle an upgrade of the M60A1 series was necessary. In 1976, a program to do just that was initiated; the intention was to increase the turret armour and to modernize and improve the technological systems in the tank. The product of the program was the M60A3 tank, a significant improvement over the M60A1 series. Despite the improvement over the earlier M60 models, the M60A3 was viewed as a stop-gap measure, as the M1 Abrams was already being developed and was planned to enter service in 1981. The M60A3 eventually replaced all US Army M60A1 and M48A5 tanks (used by the National Guard until 1987) in service. But, the Marine Corps still used the M60A1 RISE tanks until the M60 was retired from front line service in 1991.
In February of 1978, the first M60A3 tanks were finished at the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant. The low-rate initial production run was completed at the DATP in October, which consisted of 296 M60A3 tanks; the tanks were first fielded by the US Army in May of 1979. Chrysler Defense was purchased by General Dynamics Land Division in 1982. In May 1983, production of the M60A3 ended with a total of 1,052 M60A3 and M60A3 TTS tanks built. At this time, the Detroit Tank Plant closed, and production of the M1 Abrams was at the Lima Tank Plant in Ohio. Despite this, the conversion of earlier M60 tanks to the M60A3/E60B standard was still occurring, specifically for other nations through the Foreign Military Sales program. The last M60A3 tanks were delivered through the FMS in May of 1986 to Israel, with a total of 3,268 tanks converted. The tanks upgraded for Israel were surplus US Army M60A1 RISE tanks. Earlier M60 tanks were also converted to the M60A3 TTS standard for the US Army. Other nations including Italy, Austria, Greece, Morocco, and Taiwan upgraded their M60s to the M60A3 standard through FMS contracts with Raytheon and General Dynamics in the 1980's. In 1990, surplus M60A3/E60B tanks were sold to Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
This was the first model of the M60A3 series; it was known simply as the M60A3, but was also known as the M60A3 Passive in order to better distinguish it from the later M60A3 TTS. The M60A3 was based on the M60A1 RISE Passive tank, but with a number of upgrades for the turret - most notably changes to the armour and fire control system. The armour on the turret face was increased to 276 mm and the armour on the gun mantlet was changed to 330 mm. The M60A1 RISE Passive tanks uses a coincidence rangefinder and the mechanical M19 ballistic computer. The M60A3 received the M21 fire control system which includes an AN/VVS2 flash-lamp pumped ruby-laser rangefinder for the commander and gunner, solid-state M21E1 gun data computer, improved stabilization mechanism, improved electrical system, and an improved solid-state analog data card bus. The M10A2E3 ballistic drive is an electro-mechanical unit.The commander received an M36E1 passive periscope and the gunner received an M32E1 passive sight. The hydraulic fluid in the turret was changed to a type that was non-flammable. The M60A3 turret was mounted on the chassis of the M60A1 RISE Passive hull, with the same AVDS-1790-2D RISE engine and CD-850-6A transmission, with a Halon fire-suppression system. A total of 748 M60A3 Passive tanks were built, and all were later upgraded to the M60A3 TTS standard.
The M60A3 TTS was an improved model of the earlier M60A3. The gunner received an AN/VSG2 Tank Thermal Sight (TTS), which was the only major improvement over the M60A3 Passive. 304 M60A3 TTS tanks were built (with production ending in 1983), 1,391 of the US Army M60A1 RISE tanks were converted to the M60A3 TTS standard by the Anniston Army Depot and Mainz Army Depot by 1990, and all 748 US Army M60A3 tanks were also upgraded to the TTS standard by 1984.
The M60AX, commonly known as the Super M60, was an upgrade package for the M60A1 and M60A3 tanks offered by General Dynamics in 1985. It was developed as a private venture for foreign nations that already operated M60s; it was never considered for service with the US Military. The US Army decided not to develop a new power pack or suspension system for the M60, but General Dynamics formed a co-operative private venture with Teledyne Continental to do just that. Additional armour was also fitted.
The M60AX was based on the M60A1 RISE hull and the T95E7 turret from the M60A1 and M60A3 series. The power pack was replaced by the AVCR-1790-1B engine and the Renk RK-304 transmission. The torsion bar suspension was replaced with the National Waterlift hydropneumatic suspension system. These upgrades increased the mobility of the tank by 20%. The protection of the vehicle was also improved with a layer of composite armour on the turret and laminate steel panels on the front of the hull. Steel side skirts were added to the sides of the tank as well, and Kevlar spall liners were added to the crew compartment. The tank kept the standard crew of 4 of the M60, with the driver in the hull and the gunner, commander, and loader in the turret.
The armament of the M60AX remained similar to that of the M60A3. The main gun was a 105 mm/L55 M68A1E2 gun; this was the same model as used on the M1 and IPM1 Abrams, which had a longer XM24 tube and a thermal sleeve when compared to the gun of the M60A3. Additionally, the coaxial 7.62 mm M73 machine gun was replaced by a 7.62 mm M240C machine gun. The commander's cupola (formerly the M19 model) was replaced with a low-profile cupola, with a pop-up hatch. A 12.7 mm M2HB machine gun was mounted on a pintle mount for operation by the vehicle commander. The fire control system (FCS) was nearly identical to that of the M60A3 TTS. It consisted of the M21E1 solid-state ballistic computer, Raytheon AN/VSG2 Tank Thermal Sight (TTS) for the gunner, a Raytheon AN/VVS2 laser rangefinder, an M10A2E3 electro-mechanical ballistic drive, and solid-state analog data card bus. No optical rangefinder was fitted to the prototype, but one could have been fitted with ease.
The M60AX was one of the first private upgrade packages offered for the M60 series of tanks. Despite the largely increased capability of the M60AX when compared to standard M60 tanks, no nation bought any, and the total production remained at only 1 prototype. This may have been because there was no need at the time as the Cold War was winding down. The project was effectively over by the time the Cold War ended, as newer tanks became more widely available.
M60-2000/120S Main Battle Tank
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) began work on an upgrade of the M60 platform as a private venture in 1999. It was originally called the M60-2000, but the name was then changed to 120S, as the vehicle was more than just a simple upgrade of the M60. The 120 stood for the 120 mm gun, and the S stood for speed and survivability. A number of nations were briefed on the design in 2000, and a working prototype was built in 2001. The prototype was shown in Turkey at the IDEF Exhibition in October.
The tank consisted of an M60A1 chassis with an M1A1 Abrams turret mounted on it, both parts loaned by the US Army. Originally, an upgraded M60A3 turret was considered, but the M1A1 turret was preferred. The M1A1 turret could be fitted to the M60 chassis by using an adapter ring; very few modifications to the turret were needed. The turret is that of the standard M1A1, and not the M1A1HA - so no depleted uranium was used in the composite armour. The armour package was customizable for the customer, and one of the options consisted of STANAG Level 6 armour plates being added to the hull front and sides up until the third road wheel. Slat or cage armour could be added to the turret, steel or composite side skirts could be added, and spall liner and ERA packages were also available. The prototype was fitted with mock side skirts lacking the protection of production side skirts; it was also fitted with new sponsons more similar visually to those on the Abrams. The 120S had a crew of 4, with the driver in the hull and the commander, gunner, and loader in the turret.
The suspension of the hull was changed to the same torsion bar suspension system as used on the M1 Abrams, in order to compensate for the increased weight. If the customer preferred, hydropneumatic suspension could be used instead. The powerplant used on the prototype was the same as on the M60A1, the Continental V-12 750 hp (560 kW) air-cooled AVDS-1790-2 diesel engine with a CD-850-6 cross drive transmission, with a range of 275 miles. It was planned that the production vehicles would use the more powerful General Dynamics Land Systems AVDS-1790-9 diesel engine (1,200 hp) and Allison X-1100-5 series automatic giving a range of over 300 miles. Other powerplants were offered as well, and the road wheels and drive sprocket could be changed the type used on the M1 Abrams, and the T158 lightweight track from the Abrams was also offered.
The armament of the 120S consisted of the 120 mm M256 gun with a thermal sleeve; this was the exact same as on the M1A1 Abrams. 36 rounds were carried in the turret bustle rack with blowout panels for increased survivability. It was planned that there would be additional ammunition stowage in the floor of the hull for production models. The secondary armament consisted of a coaxial 7.62 mm M240C machine gun, a 7.62 mm machine gun mounted on the loader's hatch, and a 12.7 mm M2HB machine gun mounted on the commander's hatch. Two M250 smoke grenade launchers are carried, one on each side of the turret. Each launcher has six barrels for smoke grenades. Not only do the smoke grenades visually conceal the tank, but they also conceal the thermal signature of the vehicle. The tank is also capable of using a vehicle engine exhaust smoke system , which creates smoke by spraying oil on the engine. The tank was equipped with a 240X4 Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR), day/FLIR stabilized sight with an eye-safe laser range-finder, a thermal imaging system, and an onboard digital fire control computer and data bus similar to the M1 Abrams Mark 1 Advanced Fire Control System.
The 120S was mainly marketed to Turkey in order to fill their M60 upgrade requirements, but that contract was won by Israel Military Industries with the Sabra III upgrade. The Egyptian Army considered the 120S upgrade, but decided to license-build M1 Abrams tanks instead. In total, only one prototype was completed, and the 120S never entered production. The prototype was disassembled and both parts were returned to the US Army in 2003. The 120S is no longer being marketed by General Dynamics.
In May 2016, Raytheon offered the M60A3 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). The SLEP was designed for export to current M60 operating nations, in order to allow for an upgrade of the M60s used by those nations as a cheaper alternative to buying a fleet of newer tanks. The SLEP is a multiple of modular upgrades to the M60 that cover mobility, armour, and firepower. The modularity of the components allow customization for the needs of each country.
The main armament was upgraded to the 120 mm M256 L/44 gun, the same gun as used by the M1A1 Abrams. A fire rate of 6 to 10 rounds per minute with the load assist system. The Integrated Fire Control System (IFCS) was added. The IFCS consisted of a laser rangefinder, second generation night sight for the gunner, digital ballistic computer, cant sensors, electrical superelevation resolver, and MIL-STD 1553 data bus. Additionally, the Curtis-Wright Gun Turret Drive was added, and the M19 commander's cupola was replaced with the Hitrole remote controlled weapon system, which allowed the commander to view the surrounding are from inside the tank, via the .50 cal M2HB machine gun. The engine was replaced with a 950 hp AVCR-1790-2C engine, and the suspension was improved. An Automatic Fire and Explosion Sensing and Suppressing system (AFSS) was added. Slat armour was added to the turret bustle, to protect against RPG and ATGM attacks, and armour plates rated at STANAG 4569 Level 6 protection were added to the front of the vehicle. The finished vehicle weighed about 63 tons.
The Leonardo M60A3 was unveiled in October 2017 by Leonardo DRS at the Bahrain International Defense Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC). It is intended as an alternative to the M60A3 SLEP upgrade program in order to allow nations using the M60 to bring their tanks up to more modern standards.
The upgrade consists of thorough modernization throughout the different parts of the tank. The 120/54 gun from the Centauro II/MGS is used instead of the 120 mm L/44 gun, in order to reduce the weight by 500 kg. The M19 commander's cupola was replaced with an armoured circular cupola protected with slat armour; the new cupola has a much lower profile than the M19 model, and it also weighs less. A HITROLE-L 12.7 mm remote weapons station has been added to the loader's side of the turret roof. The turret was upgraded with a new hydraulic and servo control system, which improves the reliability and performance of the turret. The tank comes equipped with the LOTHAR gun sight, DNVS-4 Driver's Night Vision Sight and TURMS digital fire control system. A daytime thermal camera and an eye-safe laser rangefinder are equipped.
The armour of the tank has also been substantially upgraded. Passive armour protection claimed to meet STANAG Level 6 protection standards has been added to the turret and hull. The armour is focused on the front of the turret in order to protect against chemical rounds, and it is also applied to the front of the hull and the hull sides until the third road wheel. Slat armour was added to the back of the turret, in order to protect against RPG attacks. If the client requests, IED jamming systems and a laser warning receiver can be fitted.
The powerplant can either be refurbished or replaced with an improved version. The improved powerplant consists of the AVDS-1790-5T 908 hp engine (replacing the old 750 hp engine) and the CD-850-B1 transmission. The tank is fitted with the Automatic Fire and Explosion Sensing and Suppression System (AFSS). Additionally, the torsion bar suspension, brakes, fuel supply, electric system, wheels, seals, paint, and smoke grenades were all changed and improved.
The Turkish M60T main battle tank (MBT) stems from the Israeli Sabra Mk I tank, a heavily upgraded Magach 7, which itself came from the American M60A3 tank.
After the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US released surplus M60 tanks for the export market. Turkey purchased 274 M60A1 and 658 M60A3 tanks starting in 1993. In the early 2000s, it was decided by Turkey that new tanks must be purchased, their Leopard 1 tanks must be upgraded, and their M60s must be upgraded. There were two options for the upgrade of the M60s: the General Dynamics 120S and the Israeli Military Industries Sabra. In 2002, a contract was signed between IMI and Turkey for purchase of the Sabra. The Sabra Mk I tank was too expensive, so a new version called the Sabra Mk II was procured instead and designated by Turkey as the M60T.
The M60T features extensive armour additions at the front of the turret, giving it a wedge shape. The frontal hull armour was also improved with additional armour layers. Slat armour was added to the rear of the turret, the ammunition storage was improved, a fire suppression system was added, an IR and laser warning system was added, and new smoke grenade launchers were fitted. An NBC protection system is fitted as standard.
An active protection system was offered, but the Turks decided not to include it. In addition to the main changes listed above, the commander received a panoramic sight, extra roof protection was fitted, and a new navigation system was added. Explosive reactive armour (ERA) is able to be fitted. Notably, the M60T retains the M19 commander's cupola from the M60 series.
Due to all the additions, the M60T weighs up to 59 tons. As such, a more powerful MTU MT-881 KA-501 diesel engine is fitted, producing 1,000 horsepower. A Renk 304S transmission is fitted, and the maximum speed is 55 km/h. The suspension and tracks were also improved for a smoother ride and ease of maintenance.
The M60T is armed with the M253 120 mm smoothbore gun, controlled by an Elbit Knight III fire control system (FCS). A thermal sight is provided for the gunner along with a laser rangefinder. The turret traverse was changed from a hydraulic type to an electrical one. The crew's electronics and displays were modernized, but a battle management system was turned down by the Turks.
Production and Service
170 M60T tanks were delivered to Turkey from 2006 to 2010. M60T tanks were deployed to Syria, and that is their only known combat deployment. During the operations in Syria, several M60Ts were hit by Russian-built Kornet anti-tank missiles, which penetrated the armour and knocked out the tanks. There is a debate as to whether the losses were due to tactics or to obsolescence. It is unlikely that another nation will choose to procure the Sabra tank, due to its disappointing combat record and its obsolescence on the modern battlefield.
Zulfiqar 1/2/3 MBT
The Iranian Zulfiqar main battle tanks (MBT) family were originated from a modified M48/60 hull. The latter variant of the Zulfiqar can be considered an entirely different design, as it only shared reverse-engineered copy of M60 parts and components.
Prior to the Iranian Revolution (or the Islamic Revolution) in 1979, the Imperial Iran was a major non-NATO ally of the United States, as the Shahist regime and the US sought to counter the influence of the Soviet Union to the north of the country. Because of this, the US (and other western allies) exported a large number of modern military hardware to Iran, with some (such as the F-14A) transferred even before their home country had adopted them for their own service. Among them were 460 M60A1 tanks being sent along with numbers of surplus M48A5 and M47M Patton tanks.
After the Iranian Revolution, the new Islamic Republic regime took a staunch anti-Western stance, which led to a fallout of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran, resulting in economic and military sanctions that prevented Iran from freely acquiring western military hardware. By the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Iran had lost large numbers of American MBTs to the better-equipped Ba'athist Iraqi forces fielding large numbers of Soviet T-72M tanks, though not without capturing huge quantities of Iraqi hardware during the defensive phase of the war. Based on the experience of operating the captured T-72s, Iran contracted Russia (which had only broken off from the USSR a few months prior) in 1992 for a licensed production of the T-72 tanks in Iran. The deal was made between both countries and Iran started producing their own T-72 tanks, designated T-72S.
A year after gaining the T-72S license and developed a sizeable military industry, the Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization of Islamic Republic of Iran Ground Force, the weapon research institute of the Iranian Army, started the project for the first Iranian-designed MBT in order to fulfil the "self-sufficiency" needs of the Iranian Army. The tank, which was based on the hull of the M48/60 MBT, was named the "Zulfiqar" after the two-pronged sword of Ali, the fourth Caliph of Islam and the first Shiite Imam. The Zulfiqar (later known as Zulfiqar 1) entered production in 1997.
Around the 2000s, the Zulfiqar 2, an extended version of the Zulfiqar 1 was unveiled and used as an interim, more modern design of the tank. In 2013, the Zulfiqar 3, currently the latest iteration of the Zulfiqar with a completely new design, was revealed.
The Zulfiqar 1 (or 1A) tank uses a lowered, widened chassis of the M48/60. The tank is outfitted with a boxy-shaped turret housing the 125 mm 2A46 smoothbore cannon, derived from Iranian T-72S, as the main armament. The turret is said to feature an Iranian-designed composite armour, though the hull is not outfitted with any NERA elements. The tank is outfitted with a 780 hp engine, giving a top speed of 70 km/h. A modernization of the Zulfiqar 1 (designated 1B) features a slightly angled turret cheeks for more optimal protection and improved electrical components.
The early Zulfiqar 2, designated 2C, features a drastic redesign for the hull and turret. The transmissions now sports seven roadwheels rather than six of the Zulfiqar 1/M60, while the hull was enlarged to accommodate composite armour. The turret is also enlarged to fit them with autoloaders, electro-optical device, and more composite armour, giving a striking resemblance with the American M1 Abrams MBT. In the later Zulfiqar 2 variants, designated 2D, the hull was further reshaped to accommodate more protection.
The Zulfiqar 3 (or 3E) is the latest iteration of the Zulfiqar series. The tank's hull were completely redesigned from the Zulfiqar 2 and built from ground-up, with only the suspension components shared from the M60 giving the clue of the original design of the tank. The Zulfiqar 3's turret even more closely resembles the M1 Abrams in appearance, though can be easily distinguished by a large cupola sporting an improved FCS.
Production and Service
The exact numbers of Zulfiqar tanks in service are unknown, as multiple analysis often varied in whether to count the Zulfiqar as an M60 variant or an entirely different tank series. Based on most estimates, around 100 Zulfiqar 1, a few numbers of Zulfiqar 2, and 150 Zulfiqar 3 were produced.
- M60A1 (AOS)
- M60A1 (AOS)+
- M60A1 RISE
- M60A1 RISE+
- M60A1 RISE Passive
- M60A1 (AOS)
- M60A3 TTS
- M60 AVLB
- M60A1 AVLB
- M60 AVLM
- M60A1 AVLM
- XM1060 ROBAT
- M60 Panther MDCV
- M88 Recovery Vehicle
- M88A2 Hercules
- M728 CEV
- M9 Bulldozer Kit
- E60 Series: M60s that were to be exported to foreign nations were designated as E60s by the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS). They were modified to requests by nations that were approved to receive them. These were mostly minor modifications, such as the removal of the M19 commander's cupola, changing of machine gun models, changing of electronic systems, changing of radios or fire-control systems, different engines, or additional armour plates.
- E60: Modified M60.
- E60A: Modified M60A1.
- E60B: Modified M60A3.
Note: The M60A2 Starship was never approved for export to foreign nations.
- Ramses II
- Zulfiqar 1
- Zulfiqar 2
- Zulfiqar 3
- Magach 6
- Magach 7
- M60 Tagash AVLB
- M60 Phoenix
- M60A3 Chariot
- M48H/CM-11 Brave Tiger
- M60T Sabra Mk I
- M60T Sabra Mk II
- M60T Sabra MK III
- M60 VLPD 26/70E
- M60CZ-10/25E Alacran
- M60AX/Super M60
- M60A3 SLEP
- Leonardo M60A3
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Saudi Arabia
- United States