Taiwan launches massive modernisation of its fleet of ageing M60A3 tanks
November 29, 2023
According to the Liberty Times on November 25, 2023, Taiwan is currently undergoing a significant upgrade of its M60A3 main battle tanks, which have been part of its military inventory for decades. This initiative is part of a broader strategy by Taiwan to enhance its defense capabilities, particularly in light of potential threats from China.
Recent reports indicate that Taiwan has chosen an American proposal, likely from Renk America, to replace the engines of 400 M60A3 tanks. The plan involves replacing the current 750hp AVDS-1790-2C engines with the more powerful 1,050hp AVDS-1790-8CR engines. This upgrade is expected to introduce digital and mobility enhancements, addressing concerns about the tanks' aging systems and reinforcing their capabilities in potential defensive scenarios.
The M60A3 tanks, nearing the end of their service life in 2023, have been a key component of Taiwan's tank inventory, which includes a total of 1,000 tanks. In addition to the M60A3s, the inventory comprises 400 CM-11s and 250 CM-12s. As reported by Army Recognition on August 21, 2023, Taiwan is set to receive a total of 108 American M1A2T Abrams tanks, a modified version of the M1A2 SEP v2 tank. Specifically, 38 Abrams M1A2T tanks are scheduled to arrive on the island in 2024, followed by 42 tanks in 2025, and another 28 in 2026.
Introduced in 1976, the M60A3 marked a significant technological advancement within the M60-series tanks. While retaining the mobility, performance, and weapons systems of the M60A1, the M60A3 incorporated substantial engineering upgrades and improvements. The tank's electronics and fire control systems were notably enhanced, featuring a laser-based rangefinder and a solid-state M21 ballistic computer. The turret's hydraulic fluid was replaced with a non-flammable alternative, and the tank was powered by the AVDS-1790-2D RISE engine, ensuring reliable performance.
Two configurations of the M60A3 were built, with the earlier version, known as the M60A3 Passive, equipped with a passive gunner's sight similar to the A1 RISE Passive. The later version integrated a Tank Thermal Sight (TTS), replacing the gunner's sight with the advanced Raytheon AN/VSG2 Tank Thermal Sight. This infrared detector allowed for improved visibility in challenging conditions such as fog, smoke, and low-light scenarios, significantly enhancing the tank's night-fighting capabilities.
Manufactured at the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, the first M60A3s rolled out in February 1978, serving as a temporary solution, bridging the gap until the introduction of the XM1 Abrams MBT. The production of M60A3 tanks concluded in May 1983, totaling 1,052 new vehicles. However, conversions of earlier models to M60A3/E60B tanks continued for Foreign Military Sales, with the last deliveries to Israel in May 1986. In the US Army, the Marine Corps phased out the M60A1 RISE Passive by 1991, and the M60A3 served until being gradually replaced by the M1 Abrams tank in both the Army and the National Guard between 1994 and 1997.
Armed with a 105mm M68 rifled gun capable of firing at least 16 types of ammunition, a 12.7mm heavy machine gun in the commander's cupola, and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun, the M60A3 is constructed with a hull made of cast-steel sections and forged floor plates, offering protection against small arms and shell splinters. With a powerful AVDS-1790-2C diesel engine developing 750 hp, the M60A3 demonstrated a maximum road speed of 48 km/h and a cruising range of 500 km. Additionally, the M60A3 is equipped with modern accessories such as a laser rangefinder, computerized fire control, passive night vision, and an NBC protection system.