The M48A5 is the final improved model of the M48 series. It is adopted by about ten countries including Spain, Turkey, Thailand, and South Korea. Among them, the South Korean Army held the second largest number after Turkey, and South Korea’s M48A5K has better overall performance. In 1953 the first of the M-48 variants was placed into service in the United States to solve the reliability and performance of the M-47. Serving with distinction in Korea and Vietnam, the M-48A and its later versions were exported to almost two dozen countries, many of which still use the M-48 as their main battle tank. Currently the M-48 system tank is not used in the United States, but remains an important part of the arsenals of other countries.
The M-48 was in South Korean service in several models, including the M48A5K, M48A5, M48A3K, and the M48A2C. Between 1976 and 1985 Hyundai retrofited the old-fashioned M48 tank to a new M48A3K and M48A5K improved in mobility/firing capability/protection level, which led to outstanding leaps in Korean defence forces. It is anticipated that additional countries will embark on M-48 modernization programs such as the Korean operation. The ROK version feature side armor skirts and fire control night vision targeting system.
- The M48A3K was created from the M48A1, M48A2 and M48A3, replacing the gasoline engine previously used with a diesel engine, and additional improvements in smoke shell firing and a fire control system from Korea.
- The M48A5 replaced the 90mm from on M48A3 with a 105mm gun. It also added a search light, a range finder and a ballistic calculator. The M48A5 was created to bring the M48 series up to the standard the M60 series had set.
- The M48A5K was what the earlier M48 models were called after their firepower had been upgraded and a new suspension had been added. The M48A5K version is further distinguished by the addition of a wind sensor on the rear half of the turret. The M48A5K South Korean variant with a 105mm gun and improved FC system is considered more capable than early M60s.
South Korea’s M48A5K was upgraded in the 1980s. The modification project was undertaken by Hyundai Group. It used American-made upgraded parts for improvement and renovation, combined with several parts and accessories developed by Korean manufacturers, such as Korean-made car bodies and The electrical equipment of the turret, the control equipment of the main gun and the turret, the engine and gearbox components, the commander's turret, the road wheel assembly, and the track, etc., these modification projects accumulated valuable technology and experience for the later self-made tanks of Korea.
South Korea upgraded a total of 600 M48A3 vehicles to the M48A5K specifications. The key points of improvement include: switching to diesel engines, increasing the mileage of tanks, switching to more powerful weapons and fire control systems, improving protection performance, and installing tactics. Equipment, etc. The shape of the M48A5K is easy to identify. Side skirts are provided on both sides of the car body. A M68A1 105mm rifled gun is used instead. An active infrared searchlight is installed above the main gun shield. M239 smoke bombs are installed on both sides of the turret. It makes its appearance look thicker, which is quite different from M48A5 in other countries.
M48A5K uses the AVDS-1790-2D diesel engine with a maximum output of 750 horsepower, and uses a CD-850-6A gearbox. Compared with the original AVDS-1790-2A diesel engine used in the M48A3, although the maximum output power of the AVDS-1790-2D engine has not increased, this engine has lighter weight, higher thrust, better cooling efficiency, and logistics. And the advantages of simple maintenance, etc., improve the overall reliability of the power system.
The M48A5K is equipped with a Korean-made KM68 105mm rifled gun, which has a significantly higher firepower than the M48A3 M41 90mm gun. After the main gun was replaced, the fire control, gun control and turret control systems on the car were also upgraded. The improved initial fire control system consisted of active infrared searchlights, passive night vision viewing devices, optical rangefinders, and mechanical ballistics. Composed of computers. The later model M48A5K may be switched to a laser combat vehicle fire control system (LTFCS), equipped with modern equipment such as a laser rangefinder, a crosswind sensor, and a digital ballistic computer to increase the hit rate of the first shot.
Comprehensive evaluation of M48A5K, the performance of its later version should reach the level of M60A3TTS, but because it has not been confirmed to be equipped with more advanced sighting equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, night combat capabilities may still be insufficient. In addition, the protection performance is also the weaker part of the M48A5K. Although side skirts are added on both sides of the car body, it is not equipped with any reactive armor or composite armor.