The M60A1 was the principal production model from 1963 to 1980) with the British-designed L7 105mm rifled gun with thermal sleeve and fume extractor (63 rounds). Other than the new turret design, little was done to the basic M60 chassis excepting minor changes in hull fittings. The new variant, under the designation M60A1, was able to be placed in production relatively quickly, and without serious problems. The first M60A1s were issued to regular army units during the spring of 1962, less than 2 years after the first M60s. Following introduction of the M60A1 into American service, it was supplied to U.S. allies, including Austria, Iran, Israel, Jordan and Italy.
The M-60A1 had a redesigned wedge-shaped turret with better ballistic protection, and a new mount for the M68 105mm main gun. Early vehicles had no gun stabilization system, but later this was retrofitted, and by the mid-70s most were so equipped. This vehicle became the mainstay of the US Army's tank force through the 1960s and into the early 70s. The M68 105mm gun in the M60 tank is a modified British L7 weapon, utilizing an American vertical sliding breech block. This same weapon was also used in the M1 Abrams tank, before it was swapped for a new 120mm gun in the M1A1/A2. Weighing 58 tons (52,617 kg) and with a crew of four -- commander, gunner, loader, and driver -- the M60A1 has as its main armament a 105mm gun. The M60 turret is organized in typical American fashion, with the gunner on the right, the commander directly behind him, and the loader on the left and rear of the 105mm gun. The turret interior is roomy in comparison to most other main battle tanks of the 1960s era.
The ultimate development of the M-60A1 was the M-60A1 RISE Passive (RISE= Reliability Improved Selected Equipment). These were rebuilt M-60a1s, with added passive "starlight" imagers for the driver, gunner and commander. Other improvements included the AVDS-1790-2C RISE engine which helped to boost engine power. Also added were a battery of smoke dischargers on either side of the turret, much in the fashion of the Chieftain tank. Some models were retrofitted locally, and the control cable ran up the side of the turret, protected by small strips of thin armor plate, and then entered the turret near the searchlight mount. Those rebuilt at higher echelon depots had holes for the cables bored directly through the armor on the side. These vehicles were quickly supplied to frontline units overseas, such as in Germany, being deployed by early 1979. One batch of vehicles were shipped with a significant flaw in the bolts holding the torsion bar housing to the hull. These vehicles went to 3rd AD and needed additional work afterwards to repair.
Going into Desert Shield, the Marines' main battle tank was the M6OA1, an improvement, several generations removed, of the M48 tank of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Retrofitted with applique armor, it is considered roughly equal to, if lesser-gunned than the best tank in the Iraqi inventory, the much-vaunted Soviet T-72. During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force fielded 210 M60A1s to support the Saudi-Marine effort into Kuwait City.
The Marine Corps fielded the M1A1 Common Tank to replace the aging M60A1 Rise/Passive tank. The M60 has reached the end of its service life and lacks the capability to survive and to defeat the threats expected to be encountered on the modern battlefield.
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