"Counterattack" and more: Ukraine will receive bridge layers for heavy Western tanks

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"Counterattack" and more: Ukraine will receive bridge layers for heavy Western tanks

Just the other day, the US Department of Defense announced a new $400 million military aid package for Ukraine. In addition to ammunition for various artillery systems, spare parts and various types of equipment, it will also include bridge layers based on old American tanks M60. But, as they say, the old horse does not spoil the furrow.

To date, the M60 AVLB is actually the only engineering vehicle of this kind for the Ukrainian armed forces, which, without any problems, can organize the crossing of absolutely any Western-style tank, from the light Leopards-1 to the heavyweights represented by the Challenger-2, " Leopard-2 "and in which case even the latest modifications of the" Abrams ". Although there are many more problems that the American bridge layer can solve.



Bridge on a tank chassis - why is it needed?


In general, the subject of engineering equipment in the zone of a special military operation in Ukraine has almost never risen above the level of a couple of mentions in the media for all the time. Against the backdrop of this “calm”, the sudden boom in connection with the transfer of American M60 AVLB bridge layers to the Armed Forces of Ukraine even causes some surprise - they finally remembered that tanks do not fly through the air and sometimes require servants from engineering units.

In this regard, I would like to recall a little about why these bridge layers are needed at all and why they are carried out on a tank chassis.

In short, on the way of combat units, especially if we are talking about the advanced in the face of motorized rifle and tank ones, there are not always exceptionally smooth asphalt or dirt roads, which are a pleasure to drive on. Steep ravines, wide streams with vile weak soil at the bottom, rivers and other features of the local landscape often come across. And you should not forget about the activities of the enemy - the same anti-tank ditches, trenches and broken spans of bridges do not lose their relevance in our time.

The bridge layer, made on the basis of the M60A2, enters its own bridge
The bridge layer, made on the basis of the M60A2, enters its own bridge

In general, all those obstacles that military equipment is not able to overcome on their own are eliminated by a bridge layer, which opens and installs a bridge through them for free passage. True, up to a certain limit - bridges are strictly limited in length.

However, it is worth noting that these self-propelled bridges are used in a variety of situations: in the offensive, in defense, and on marches, and so on. And the crossings they have established are used not only by armored vehicles, but in general by everyone who needs these crossings. That is, in fact, this is an indispensable technical tool for any army that performs slightly more functions than just one decorative one.

On the basis of the tank, bridgelayers are created for two main reasons.

Firstly, in fact, simple unification - in most components and assemblies, as well as in repair kits and other accessories, the tank bridge layer is identical to the tanks used in the troops. It's cheap and easy to operate.

Secondly, tank armor. It allows the bridgelayer to operate dangerously close to the enemy and be in the first combat formations. Largely due to such properties, this technique - mainly in the West - is called assault bridges. If we are talking about our troops, then tank bridge layers, along with IMR and BREM, are part of the triad of front-line engineering vehicles.

Tank M60, which served as the base for the bridgelayer
Tank M60, which served as the base for the bridgelayer

But, in addition to the length of the induced crossing, bridges have another significant limitation, which is the mass of the object passing through it. Neither we nor the armed forces of Ukraine - and we use the common Soviet legacy - simply do not have bridge layers that can organize the transfer of Western tanks, whose combat weight is much more than 60 tons. But these heavyweights will someday appear in abundance, so the problem of the lack of mobile bridges with the required carrying capacity is especially acute for the Ukrainian troops.

Moreover, the likelihood of an offensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and, accordingly, an assault on the fortified areas of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has long passed from the category of "possibly" to "it will definitely happen."

Although no one is saying that the M60 AVLB will only be used for Western tanks.

"Old Man" M60 AVLB will still give heat


It is important to note here that Ukraine will also get bridge layers based on the Leopard-1 tank called Biber. The carrying capacity of its bridge is not as high as our opponents would like - it is unlikely to handle more than 55 tons. However, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have a whole mountain of lighter equipment that a German product can serve: Soviet-style tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers of Soviet and Western models, and so on. The hero of today's material can also be used, but more on that later.

Biber bridge layer on Leopard 1 chassis. One of its advantages is that when installing the bridge, it does not raise it vertically, and this has a positive effect on camouflage.
Biber bridge layer on Leopard 1 chassis. One of its advantages is that when installing the bridge, it does not raise it vertically, and this has a positive effect on camouflage.

In general, they will not remain idle, you should not smile. Especially against the background of the almost complete absence of other bridgelayers from the Ukrainian military. The same The Military Balance 2022 gives - according to official lists - a certain number of MTU-20s that are not the best in operation. Although Kyiv has other copies “out of the list”.

But, whatever one may say, the M60 AVLB stands out from its colleagues here.


To some extent, the title of “old man” of the engineering service is quite applicable to this bridge layer simply because it was developed and put into service long before the appearance of most samples of Western armored vehicles, which are now planned to be transferred to Ukrainian troops.

Production of the M60 AVLB bridgelayer began in 1964. Moreover, the release of the new AVLB takes place in two peculiar waves: the first lasted from 1964 to 1967, during which the M60 tanks and its modifications M60A1 were used as a base. Then, after a long period, due to the increased military needs of the United States, production was resumed in 1987 and lasted until 1996, during which the lion's share of the vehicles was assembled on the chassis of already used M60A2 tanks.


In total, about 400 bridge layers were produced. For 2022, the US had about 260 M60 AVLBs - 30 of them in the Marine Corps. Although now they are being replaced by M104 and M1074 engineering vehicles based on the Abrams tank.

By design, the bridge carrier is a heavily redesigned chassis of the M60 tank and its modifications in terms of internal and external equipment. Although, however, there is nothing radical that could single out this particular instance from the entire family of engineering equipment of this class.

1 - storage boxes in the front fenders; 2 - commander's cupola; 3- hatches; 4 - antenna mount; 5 - engine air cleaners; 6 - storage boxes on the rear wing; 7 - fan cover; 8 - hydraulic oil reservoir; 9 - turret driver-operator
1 - storage boxes in the front fenders; 2 - commander's cupola; 3 - hatches; 4 - antenna mount; 5 - engine air cleaners; 6 - storage boxes on the rear wing; 7 – fan cover; 8 - hydraulic oil reservoir; 9 - turret driver-operator

For obvious reasons, the vehicle does not have a tank turret: instead, hatches and turrets with viewing devices for the entire crew of two people were installed: the commander, located on the right, and the driver-operator (driver) on the left. There is also a reservoir for hydraulic fluid and an armored cap for the ventilation system.

Schematic representation of the driver-operator position of the M60 AVLB. The numbers indicate the control levers of bridge laying mechanisms
Schematic representation of the driver-operator position of the M60 AVLB. The numbers indicate the control levers of bridge laying mechanisms

Inside the place of the commander is equipped with means of communication and surveillance. But the driver-operator has a whole arsenal: his functions include both controlling the movement of the bridge layer, and the installation or lifting of the bridge itself. Therefore, in front of him is a steering wheel, pedals and other attributes for driving, but on the right is a set of levers for manipulating the bridge.

In the bow of the M60 AVLB, where the driver was previously located in the tank version, there is a hydraulic system with power take-off from the main engine, which, using a lifting device on the frontal armor, raises and unfolds the bridge, or lifts it from the ground and folds it if the passage of vehicles finished. It is worth noting that these manipulations can be carried out without the crew members going outside, although in most cases the vehicle commander observes and controls the process from the outside.

Full specifications can be found here here.

1 - pins; 2,3,4,8,10 - executive cylinders; 5 - stern support of the bridge in the folded state; 6 - outrigger; 7 - guide pin; 9 - mounting part of the lifting device
1 - pins; 2, 3, 4, 8, 10 - slave cylinders; 5 - stern support of the bridge in the folded state; 6 - outrigger; 7 - guide pin; 9 - mounting part of the lifting device

The bridge itself is made of aluminum alloys and consists of two folding sections, providing the length of the crossing in the unfolded state within 18 meters. In principle, this indicator is still considered quite satisfactory, especially when it comes to the load that this bridge is able to withstand.

Until the 90s, M60 AVLB axles were limited to 60 "short" tons, which equated to about 54 metric tons. That is, without any problems, both the M60 and M1 Abrams tanks could ride on them. However, due to a sharp increase in the mass of the latter, and they began to get fat very significantly from modification to modification, new reinforced bridge structures were introduced.

So, at first, the standard for the carrying capacity of bridges was increased to 70 “short” tons, which in terms of 63 metric tons, traditional for us. Then, more than ten years ago, the M60 AVLB began to install bridges for 85 "short" tons - 77 tons metric. So not only the heaviest "Abrams" of the latest modification will pass through them, but also some kind of "Merkava" Mk. 4 will slip, not swear. Although I had to sacrifice the width of the barrier, which was reduced by 3 meters.


Based on the fact that bridge layers with a carrying capacity of 70 and 85 "short" tons are now the main ones in the United States, it is not difficult to guess that they, or one of these options, will be sent to Ukraine. There is no big difference here: both bridges will make it possible to organize a crossing for any of the Western tanks planned for transfer - both the Challenger 2 and the Leopard 2.

Good for a lot


The transfer of M60 AVLB bridgelayers to Kyiv can actually be viewed from different aspects that do not contradict each other.

On the one hand, Ukraine is already scratching its hands in anticipation of the use of Western tanks, for the mass indicators of which nothing from the Soviet engineering equipment was designed at all in terms of establishing fast crossings on the battlefield. Perhaps banal, but “self-propelled bridges” are simply a necessary addition to the set of equipment that the Armed Forces will receive. Even though tank deliveries are calculated at a dosage of “a teaspoon per hour”, it may someday turn out that they will not be able to overcome the gifts from our zemplekops and the insidious features of the landscape without help.

On the other hand, and most likely, the supply of both the German Biber and the American M60 AFLB pursue a more prosaic and ordinary goal: to fill the shortage of bridgelayers in the Ukrainian troops before the upcoming offensive.

Bridge-layer chassis without bridge
Bridge-layer chassis without bridge

Still, you need to understand that the terrain in the war zone in Ukraine is not very favorable in itself, and it's not just about the chernozem trough, in which both tanks and trucks are drowning. It is full of natural ravines, rivers and other things that impede progress. And if we add to this fortified areas, pitted with trenches and ditches? By the way, it is the fortification component in this situation that is one of the main factors determining the need for engineering equipment.


One way or another, the almost complete absence of front-line bridgelayers will affect not only the patency of the Leopards and Challengers, which are not expected to be many in the short term, but the advancement of completely Soviet tanks, assorted infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles of Soviet and Western types , which in the future will still continue to constitute the main striking power of the Ukrainian army during the offensive. So the gift in the form of the M60 AVLB, and Biber too, in terms of the degree of usefulness for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, is not very inferior to that of the tanks transferred and planned for transfer.
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34 comments
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  1. -3
    March 9 2023
    "Counterattack" and not only: Ukraine will receive bridge layers
    Prepare one and prepare another! am
    1. -1
      March 9 2023
      Prepare one and prepare another!

      Our MLRS does not hit the squares, but where in a row, and where in a bunch.
      https://t.me/milinfolive/97804
    2. 0
      March 18 2023
      Killed to death: they showed another weighted stage of the passage of the tankodrome.
      You might think that our artillerymen have never seen anything like the Donbass.
  2. +1
    March 9 2023
    The bridge layer is a good marker of the enemy's intentions, their appearance in a particular area indicates the transfer of enemy equipment to the right place. smile
    Further, comparing with other markers, we can conclude about the planned activities of the enemy.
    We will see where the Ukronatsiks are planning to contrast.
    1. +10
      March 9 2023
      But with this we have problems, conclusions to draw. In the TG channels, info about the preparation of the offensive of the ukroreich again appears. This has already been about raisins, for a whole month in all channels they rang about it. What happened in the end, we all remember very well. I hope it won't be like this this time. Although knowing our leadership, the repetition of the "regrouping" cannot be ruled out
  3. +2
    March 9 2023
    He intelligibly explained why Nikolaev was not occupied and there were no bridgelayers with us.
    This is from the opposite. If you start from the possibilities ughrosil a year ago.
    It is not clear to me what they will do with the bridges on the tie-down (without a question mark)
    1. 0
      March 18 2023
      But pontoon sappers will know in advance.
  4. +3
    March 9 2023
    The author, before writing about the M60 AVLB bridgelayer, should normally familiarize himself with its performance characteristics. Firstly, this bridgelayer has three types of bridge and only the third type can handle 57 tons, but in terms of security it is forbidden to pass the M1A1 and M1A2 tanks on it, and the remaining two types of bridge have a load capacity 42 tons and a maximum bridge length of 18 meters. In the US Army and Marine Corps, specifically for the M1A1 Abrams tanks, there are two types of bridge layer M104 Wolverine and M1074 based on the Abrams tank.
    Ukraine has a Soviet bridge layer MTU 72 on its bridge, the M1 Abrams tank of all types can easily pass
    1. +2
      March 9 2023
      Before writing about the M60 AVLB bridge layer, the author should have familiarized himself with its performance characteristics

      With all due respect ... Have you read it yourself? laughing
      1. -1
        March 9 2023
        Yes, I read and what you wrote is not really true in the US Army and the Marine Corps.
        Quote from Army Today
        It is worth noting, that the M60 AVLB only supports Abrams tank units using a caution crossing at a reduced gap length (15 m) and at a reduced crossing speed. Also this armored bridgelayer can not keep pace during combat operations with faster Abrams MBTs. most likely you misunderstood the instruction manual LAUNCHER, M48A5 TANK CHASSIS NSN 5420-01-076-6096 (EIC: ARE)
        LAUNCHER, M60A1 TANK CHASSIS NSN 5420-00-889-2020 (EIC: ARC)
        TRANSPORTING FOR BRIDGE ARMORED-VEHICLE LAUNCHED:
        SCISSORING-TYPE, CLASS 60 OR CLASS 70
        Where is it written about scissor bridges of class 60 or class 70.
        In reality, tanks of the M1 Abrams type are possible, but there is a restriction on the width of obstacles to overcome such as a ditch or trench, water obstacles, if the width of the ditch is 16 meters, then M1 Abrams tanks are finally forbidden to drive onto the bridge.
        1. +3
          March 9 2023
          firstly, this bridgelayer has three types of bridge and only the third type can handle 57 tons

          The M60 AVLB has three types of bridge with MLC 60, 70 limits and reclassified 85 short tons with its own frames for the width of the crossed barrier. The German "Leopard-2", for example, is classified as MLC70, that is, a 70-ton bridge will fit under it and with a huge margin of 85 tons.

          Ukraine has a Soviet bridge layer MTU 72 on its bridge, the M1 Abrams tank of all types can easily pass

          Firstly, these bridgelayers are not even indicated in the payroll, but there are a certain number of them. Their carrying capacity is 50 tons. How will "Abrams of all types" normally go over them if the last types have long been approaching 70 tons?

          Quote from Army Today

          Some kind of strange "Army Today", since this quote, in a slightly modified form, is already exactly 23 years old. It refers to the MLC70-limited bridgelayer and was written on the Military Analysis Network in February 2000. The full text makes it clear that the M1A2 "Abrams" can drive over bridges with a given carrying capacity, but with restrictions on the length of a trench, ditch or river of 15 meters instead of the standard 18 meters. At the same time, bridges of the MLC85 class on the same length of the barrier make it possible to drive the heaviest M1A2 SEP v.3. The width of the barrier is generally a prerequisite for reinforced bridges M60. In fact, both the 70-ton and 85-ton bridges are suitable for all types of Western tanks transferred to Ukraine.
  5. -7
    March 9 2023
    Put a biden dummy with a drum around its neck on each bridgelayer, this will greatly enhance all the advantages and scare the Chinese.
  6. +5
    March 9 2023
    How much can you ask how heavy armored vehicles get to the front line? it won’t fit into a bread truck or an ambulance, so maybe after a year of fighting we will destroy the bridges and tunnels of western Ukraine? and at the same time junction stations and tank farms. Something I have not seen armored vehicles moving without fuel, but it is supplied by the river.
    1. +5
      March 9 2023
      Come on, you ask questions on this topic, bridges, bridges.
      The Moscow Region has something to do besides bridges, they suspect a smart idea, and then bomb bridges and others.
      You know, a seditious thought for the times of rampant democracy - the NKVD did not ask a stupid person (the term 6 is medical, otherwise they will not print it again as another definition), the result was one to the wall.
      Everything will be fine (I hope)
    2. 0
      March 9 2023
      How do you plan to destroy tunnels and bridges?)
    3. 0
      March 9 2023
      Nova Poshta delivers by parcel post
  7. +3
    March 9 2023
    "Not a single task of modern combined arms combat can be solved without engineering support." This is the combat regulations of my time.
    Engineering technology is very important. She is always in short supply. So that must be destroyed first.
    It's like instructing snipers in the Second World War: the first to shoot those with a gun, the second, those who are dragging something.
  8. +6
    March 9 2023
    good article, without hatred. I would also like to read about domestic bridges, in general it would be nice
  9. +4
    March 9 2023
    Well, we are waiting for another regrouping?
    1. -1
      March 9 2023
      James, where are you waiting - right across the ocean or on the shores of the Mediterranean?
  10. +8
    March 9 2023
    NATO, led by the United States, gives Ukraine what makes the US Army considered the first in the world - this is the provision of logistics (just the bridgelayers will provide logistics directly at the front end, because equipment, infantry will be provided for them and the better the provision will work the further the offensive of the Armed Forces will advance), everything is clear at the expense of communications, they are transferred the best in communications to those brigades from NATO equipment. The attack of the All-Union Forces will be unequivocal, and their first priority will be to re-cut the land corridor, and to make sure that the airfields are within the reach of the Highmars, and therefore the troops will be without the support of aviation and helicopters, and then, destroyed the Crimean bridge, Highmars and other weapons that were transferred to them will work . All ships that will sail to the Crimea will be sunk, I'm talking about dry cargo ships with food and ammunition, and do not forget about 2,5 million people live in Crimea, maybe less now, but the point is that if they could not supply Kherson , then it will be more and more difficult with Crimea. And no matter how the fate of Kherson is repeated, but on the scale of the Crimea.
    1. +4
      March 9 2023
      We all know, even the number of tanks and armored vehicles. We know why Bakhmut is being held by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and, as usual, everything is "quiet". It seems that the Defense Ministry does not "see" the rear of the Armed Forces at all. I mean the western regions where the blitzkrieg is being prepared.
      1. +5
        March 9 2023
        the impression that the Ministry of Defense "does not see" the rear of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at all.

        The plywood marshal is preparing for exercises in the Far East, this is more important. After all, the marshal did not serve as a military man, how would he know what is needed and what is not needed in the NWO.
      2. +6
        March 9 2023
        [quote] We know why Bakhmut is being held by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and, as usual, everything is "quiet". It seems that the Defense Ministry does not "see" the rear of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at all [/ quote
        The fact is that the MoD does not consider it necessary to share with everyone who wants to know what they see and what they know and how they are going to react. In general, this is justified, but it adds anxiety to us here on the sofas, we don’t know and are worried, especially after the Kharkov regrouping, when all the TG channels were shouting for a month about the impending counteroffensive, and the Defense Ministry seemed not to know, didn’t hear, didn’t see. This is what scares.
    2. +1
      March 9 2023
      And no matter how the fate of Kherson is repeated, but on the scale of the Crimea.

      I hope that at least this "up there" is seen and understood. We saw footage from "probable partners" that the Kherson and Zaporozhye directions are being strengthened, if everything is done at a sufficiently serious level, then the attack on the Crimea will not work, and Ukraine will have no more forces left for the offensive.
      1. -1
        April 1 2023
        I would like to be a bad prophet, but the prospects are frightening. The ABC of military affairs, defense always leads to defeat, because even with our excellent intelligence, we will know exactly where the enemy will cross the Dnieper, or break through the defenses between the Dnieper and Donbass at the last moment when it will be too late to pull up forces there. And it is impossible to strengthen the entire front line so that it can withstand the blow of any force.
  11. +3
    March 9 2023
    I wonder if they drove this equipment through the mud or only in the conditions of landfills and a favorable climate, how it will all work in the conditions of black soil where Soviet tanks are regularly planted.
    1. +1
      March 9 2023
      Driven is a very strong word. With such a “roof” over your head, you won’t accelerate much on a concrete road, not like on black soil and clay. There are such “pecks” at a sharp start and stop, look at it, either you fall on your side, or you dig your “nose” into the earth's firmament ...
  12. +3
    March 9 2023
    Quote from Silver99
    How much can you ask how heavy armored vehicles get to the front line? it won’t fit into a bread truck or an ambulance, so maybe after a year of fighting we will destroy the bridges and tunnels of western Ukraine? and at the same time junction stations and tank farms. Something I have not seen armored vehicles moving without fuel, but it is supplied by the river.

    How dare you encroach on the sacred gesheft of business groups?
  13. +4
    March 9 2023
    The less intelligent practice tactics.
    Smarter ones teach strategy.
    Geniuses organize the logistics.
    1. +4
      March 9 2023
      This is the strength of NATO and the United States, logistics, logistics and again logistics. As well as communication, destroyed the logistics, in fact, the destruction of the troops will be a matter of time.
  14. The comment was deleted.
  15. 0
    March 10 2023
    Trenches are already being dug in Crimea. Although, probably, it is time to dig trenches near Moscow.
  16. 0
    March 14 2023
    Quote: Katya_Ivanova
    Trenches are already being dug in Crimea. Although, probably, it is time to dig trenches near Moscow.

    Quote: Katya_Ivanova
    Trenches are already being dug in Crimea. Although, probably, it is time to dig trenches near Moscow.

    In Moscow, they put anti-aircraft guns on the roofs of houses.
  17. 0
    March 16 2023
    Well, he will receive and receive, but we'll see how it turns out there.

    In my opinion, at the end of last month, a convoy of four bridge-layers also passed by us. Everything would be fine, but all of it was implemented on brand new Kraz (!). Looks like a trophy. No matter how ... you won’t surprise us with trophy trucks, but bridge layers are something unusual.

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