Wednesday, May 25, 2016

State Defense Force ordnance officers take note. What was old can be new again. "Raytheon Wants to Hot-Rod Old 'Patton' Tanks."

Well, now. There's a thought. How many M-48 and M60 are sitting in front of VFW halls and National Guard armories as static displays? How many can be refurbished in case of civil war?
The venerable M60 could get upgrades that make it more competitive with some of today's tanks.
For three decades, the Raytheon M60 (informally called the Patton) was America's primary main battle tank. Though the tank was replaced in the early 1990s by the M1A1 Abrams, thousands are still operational abroad. They're all candidates for an upgrade that Raytheon says can make them competitive on the battlefield, and at one-third of the cost of a modern main battle tank like a Russian-built T-90S, German-built Leopard 2A7, or America's own M1A2 SEP(v)3 Abrams. It's am appealing idea for M60 users like Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Oman.
"You have hardware that's of 1960s-1970s pedigree. The supply chain for some of the original equipment is gone," says Rimas Guzulaitis, senior director for platform sustainment and modernization at Raytheon "But you still have countries operating them who need to modernize, eliminate inefficiencies, add accuracy and lethality. They need to keep the M60 relevant."
The M60A3 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) would hot-rod the Patton via kits supplied by Raytheon and its partners. The new V-12 diesel engine is rebuilt with stronger internals, increased fuel and airflow capacity, better cooling and more compression, and coupled to a strengthened transmission. The changes bump its output from 750 to 950 horsepower.
The Patton's turret can be converted from hydraulic to electric power. Hydraulics are hard to maintain and the hydraulic lines running through the M60's hull are downright dangerous. The kit replaces them with digitally-controlled electric wiring and actuators, making the turret quieter and lighter while allowing it to rotate faster. In place of the original 105mm M68 rifled gun, the M60 SLEP slots in a 120mm M256 smooth bore cannon.
"It's directly out of the M1A1," Guzulaitis says of the gun. "It's substantially more accurate, definitely more lethal, it's lighter and it allows you to use a wider range of NATO-partner ammunition." The gun's range is "substantially greater than an off-the-shelf M60 cannon," too, thanks to a not only the gun itself but also the new digital fire control and sight systems that come with the SLEP. The new configuration has sighting and fire control linked via Ethernet integrated with a laser day sight and night thermal sight, all connected to the electronic turret drive.
Making the Patton lighter and faster raises the possibility of adding additional armor, though none is offered as part of the SLEP. Nevertheless, Guzulaitis asserts that increased speed, firepower, digital control, and maneuverability are significant self-protection improvements.
"A legacy M60 tank requires you to stop to shoot to achieve a high level of accuracy," he says. "The new system allows you to shoot on the move, which equals increased survivability. If you have to stop to shoot, you're opening yourself up to getting hit."
The fire control portion of the upgrade has been fielded on 80-plus tanks in Jordan for over a decade. Raytheon recently integrated it with the improved drivetrain, turret, and gun in live-fire testing at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The company has yet to ship any SLEP kits, but there are three customers in various stages of Foreign Military Sales approval process right now. That means we'll likely see hot-rodded Pattons in the Middle East soon.


Anonymous said...

Here's some food for debate (I stole,er, "acquired" this from someone else):
1. Pursuant to Title 32 establish state guards, or expand existing state guard/militias.
2. Establish strength at 1% of the state population with 10% of the guard as full-time staff.
3. Establish voluntary funding mechanisms. This could include the fool tax, AKA lottery. This can also include a democrat trick: establish a fund which accepts payment from unsecured credit/VISA gift cards.
4. If necessary several states can establish a training organization to provide a one-month basic, one-month combat skills, and one-month specialist school for non-veterans.
5. I like using upgraded older-generation equipment. Useful for dismissing the "the guard threatens the US military/federal government" hand-wringing. An M113 MTVL armed with a 25mm gun and, say, a dual Javelin or Hellfire launcher? No match for a Bradley, right? An old M60 with a new diesel engine plus hybrid/heat capture drive may have twice the range as an M1 Abrams, but it is clearly no match as well, so calm down. A block E/F F16, even one mated with the F16 XL airframe-no match for an F35, c'mon!
6. Actually, light infantry and logistics/support personnel would probably constitute the bulk of the guard, so don't get bent! Those look like they need to march around for the exercise anyways. YaknowwhatImean?
7. States which develop the political will to build real state guards could also harden their infrastructure as well. Why wait for the feds?
8. Local currency based on gold/kilojoule-equivalent commodities denominated in gold could be developed to resist fiscal abuse from the district of criminals.

Could go on, but others should jump in and add to this.


Allen said...

"How many can be refurbished in case of civil war?"

I think that number will be very close to zero. engines gone or inoperable, zero spares, main gun inoperable and zero ammo availability even if it was...

if you really have the manpower for that, better to put it to use building anti-tank equipment. northover projectors are pretty simple, and far more useful in the long run than a rolling target.

Jonathan H said...

It seems to me that this article is aimed at the foreign upgrade market, not for use in the US.
There is a current M60 support infrastructure set up for FMS (foreign military sales) contracts which specifies that components can ONLY be sold overseas - there are a few US units that have M60 tanks for comparison, ID, etc purposes and they have trouble getting parts because they aren't allowed to use the system that supplies FMS.