In a bid to breathe new life into a tired-but-true weapons system, Raytheon has pitched the US government, as well as several client nations that operate the venerable M60A3 battle tank, with a revitalization program that could conceivably bring the tank up to today’s standards – but at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a modern battle tank. According to The National Interest, “the Raytheon M60A3 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 M1A2 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 105mm M68 rifled gun in favor of the Abrams’ German-made L44 120mm smoothbore cannon. The addition of the new weapon would give the M60A3 the ability to engage enemy tanks as advanced as the T-90MS on a near equal footing. In fact, with the upgrade, the M60 probably outperforms older M1A1 variants.
That’s because in addition to the new cannon, the M60 would receive completely new digital fire-control and targeting systems—including day and thermal sights. The system is comparable to the U.S. Army’s M1A1D standard. Indeed, the fire-control software was developed for the U.S. Army. While Raytheon does not specifically mention networking—it’s reasonable to assume the modernized tank would be compatible with the U.S. Army’s networks.”
Its conceivable that the vehicle could be fitted with an active protection system, which typically includes some sort of anti-projectile firing system to defeat incoming threats. Typically, the US and several western nations have been loathe to incorporating this system onto many of the current land battlefield systems because it could cause collateral damage to other units operating near the platform, particularly to dismounted troops.