The Sabra project was launched at the beginning of the two thousandth year and was intended to carry out a deep modernization of the available equipment. Not being able to build their own modern tanks or buy foreign models, the Turkish command was forced to seek help from foreign experts. The development project for the modernization of the existing technology in 2002 was commissioned by the Israeli company Israel Military Industries (IMI), which had extensive experience in creating and updating armored vehicles. The contractor was required to develop a project for the deep modernization of existing M60A3 Patton tanks of American construction, which would significantly improve their performance. The project received the designation Sabra.
Due to the great age and the corresponding technical appearance of the existing M60A3 tanks, the terms of reference for the Sabra project involved the processing of all the main features of the vehicle. It was necessary to improve the characteristics of the power plant, strengthen the protection and install new weapons of increased power. Thus, IMI specialists had to actually create a new tank based on existing units. At the same time, however, the existing units should be widely used, since the construction of tanks from scratch was not planned. Fortunately, IMI has already had experience in upgrading M60 family vehicles. Previously, she had to develop such projects in the interests of the Israeli army.
Initially, the Turkish military was offered the existing version of modernization, created for the Israeli army. In this case, the Turkish armed forces could get a slightly modified tank series "Magah" version 7C. The Israeli industry has already had experience in upgrading American tanks, and it was this option for upgrading equipment that was originally proposed to the customer. Subsequently, a variant of the Sabra project based on “Magi 7C” received the additional designation Mk 1.
After reviewing the project Sabra Mk 1, the Turkish side demanded to make some changes in it related to the design of the power plant, towers, etc. All these wishes were taken into account in the updated project Sabra Mk 2, which retained the basic features of the base Mk 1, but had a lot of relatively small differences that affect the characteristics.
The upgraded M60 tank had to keep the main units, such as the hull, tower and chassis, which should not have been modified to simplify and reduce the cost of the upgrade process. However, to improve certain characteristics, it was proposed to install various additional equipment on the base parts. Thus, the overall architecture and layout of the tank during the modernization remained the same. In front of the hull, the command and control unit remained, in the center, the fighting compartment remained, and the feed was still given to the engine and transmission.
A characteristic feature of the M60 family of tanks, including the M60A3, is the hull and turret, made of homogeneous armor, which does not meet modern requirements and does not allow for an acceptable level of protection against existing anti-tank weapons. For this reason, the Sabra project involved strengthening the body armor of the base tank by installing additional elements. In the draft version of the Mk 1, it was proposed to use additional mounted booking modules installed on top of the tank's own armor. The modules were planned to be mounted on the upper frontal part and on the side screens of the case. In addition, frontal and side modules for the tower were offered, and an open basket was placed on its stern.
Further development of additional protection systems continued through the installation of new equipment. The Mk 2 project provided for the reinforcement of hinged armor with dynamic protection. In addition, to increase survivability in combat, Sabra tanks of all modifications must be equipped with an automatic fire extinguishing system and smoke grenade launchers.
To simplify the assembly of upgraded tanks, the base M60A3 keeps the existing hull and turret during repairs and upgrades. Additional protection is mounted directly on their surface. Due to this, in particular, the tank Sabra retains external similarity with the base sample.
The Magrah Sabra Mk 1 project implied the use of a Continental AVDS-1790-5A diesel engine with HP 908 power. Such a power plant did not suit the customer, which is why the MTU MT 2 KA-881 HP engine with the power of 501 hp was proposed in the Mk 1000 project. One of the main advantages that influenced the choice of the customer was the possibility of licensed production of MTU engines in Turkish enterprises. Also replaced the transmission. Instead of the Allison CD850-6BX (Mk.I) product, the tank was equipped with the Renk 304S system.
Chassis base tank has not changed significantly. It contains six track rollers with an individual torsion suspension on each side, three supporting rollers and additional shock absorbers. The guide wheels remained in the front of the hull, leading - in the stern.
Scheme of installation of additional reservation on the base building and the tower. Figure Alternathistory.com
One of the main requirements for the Sabra project was to strengthen weapons. M60 tanks of all major modifications were equipped with M68 rifled 105 mm caliber guns, the parameters of which no longer allow effective destruction of modern armored vehicles with a high level of protection. For this reason, IMI specialists had to develop a new weapon system with a more powerful main weapon. When creating an updated combat compartment, the available groundwork and ready-made units borrowed from Israeli tanks were used. It is noteworthy that during the creation of the upgraded tower did not have to significantly refine the existing units.
The basic one weapons Sabra tanks of all modifications was a smooth-bore gun MG253 caliber 120 mm, designed for the tank Merkava Mk 3. The barrel of the gun is equipped with an ejector and heat shield. 42 unitary shots are placed in the fighting compartments. It is argued that the use of a large-bore smoothbore gun made it possible to significantly increase the firepower of the tank, as well as increase the range of effective fire and the power of ammunition. Thus, in terms of the main armament, Sabra tanks have a great advantage over the base M60 of all major modifications.
The tower of the modernized tank Sabra Mk 1 is equipped with electric swivel drives and a hydraulic system for lifting the gun mount. This equipment allows you to direct weapons in any direction with an elevation from -9 ° to + 20 °. In the project Sabra Mk 2 was proposed to use only electric guidance systems.
As an additional weapon, Sabra tanks were to receive machine guns and smoke grenade launchers. In one installation with a gun, it was proposed to mount a rifle-caliber machine gun, such as M240 or MG3. On the commander's turret provided installation for anti-aircraft machine gun. At the request of the customer, it placed a large-caliber machine gun M85. Two blocks of 60-mm smoke grenade launchers are mounted on the cheekbones of the turret.
The upgraded tank is equipped with a Knight digital fire control system, which includes various equipment from El-Op Industries Ltd and Elbit Systems. The OMS is integrated with other equipment used for tank control and communications. Day and night instruments were used to observe and attack targets in all weather conditions and at any time of the day. Thus, the gunner’s workplace is equipped with a combined sight with an increase to x8 in day mode and to x5,3 at night. The available laser rangefinder allows you to determine the distance to the target within 200-9995 m with an accuracy of 5 m.
During the upgrade to Sabra Mk 1 / 2, the M60A3 tank saves a crew of four. In front of the hull is a driver, three other tankers (commander, gunner and loader) are in the fighting compartment.
After installing new equipment and additional booking, the tank dimensions remain the same. The length of the vehicle is 6,95 m, width 3,63 m, height - 3,27 m. The combat weight of the Sabra tank depends on the modification. In the first version, this parameter was equal to 55 T, in the version Mk 2 - 59 T. The increase in mass was affected by armor enhancement, a new power plant and some other factors.
The Sabra Mk 1 tank, equipped with a Continental AVDS-1790-5A engine, was supposed to have a power density at the 16,5 HP level. per ton. In the modification of Sabra Mk 2, this parameter has grown to 16,95 HP. per ton. With such characteristics, the first version of the armored vehicle could reach a maximum speed of up to 48 km / h, the second - up to 55 km / h. The power reserve per fueling of all modifications is set at 450 km. Tanks of all modifications are able to climb the slope of the 60% steepness, move with the 30% roll, climb the 91 cm wall and cross the trench 2,6 m wide.
The contract for the development of the project for the modernization of the M60 family of battle tanks was signed in 2002 of the year. After that, for several years, IMI worked to create a project and fulfill customer requirements. In 2005, construction began on an experienced Sabra tank, which was introduced in late autumn. In the future, the company-developer and the armed forces of Turkey conducted the full range of necessary tests, based on the results of which certain improvements were made and a decision was made about the future of new technology.
The Turkish military approved the Sabra Mk 2 project and decided to start mass production of new tanks. In 2007, a contract was signed to carry out the repair of M60A3 tanks in the army with the modernization of a new project. The new machines were adopted under the designation M60T Sabra. In accordance with the agreement of 2007, the Israeli side transferred to the Turkish industry a number of necessary technologies and licenses for the production of some equipment. At the same time, however, additional booking modules were made only in Israel and were delivered to Turkey as a finished product. The necessary components were made by various enterprises and delivered to 2-th main technical service center, where the equipment was repaired and new equipment was installed.
The contract for the supply of tanks M60T Sabra lasted until the spring of the year 2009. During this time, Turkish and Israeli enterprises manufactured 170 retrofit kits and installed them on the M60A3 front-line tanks. By the end of the last decade, all these machines returned to service, becoming one of the newest and most advanced tanks in the Turkish army.
According to reports, the Turkish Army currently has approximately 930 M60 tanks of several modifications, including the M60T Sabra. Thus, more than seven and a half hundred armored vehicles belong to outdated modifications and are seriously inferior to the modernized technology for a number of characteristics. As follows from the published information, the modernization of the remaining tanks of the M60 family is not planned. The implementation of such a project is associated with large expenditures that do not fit into the Turkish military budget. In addition, over the past few years, the Turkish army has been making plans to switch to the newest Altay tank with the abandonment of outdated technology.
Unloading M60T tanks near the Turkish-Syrian border, end of 2015. Photo by Alternalhistory.com
After completing the contract for the supply of equipment for the modernization of tanks, the Israeli company IMI continued to develop the project Sabra. The result of further work was the emergence of a variant of the Sabra Mk 3, which differs from its predecessors by a number of characteristic features. In this project, it is proposed to use additional reservation modules, created on the basis of the Mk 4 Mk-1 project, as well as warning systems for laser or radar exposure. Instead of a turret, it is proposed to install a remote-controlled combat module with a large-caliber machine-gun on the commander's turret. In addition, the chassis gets a caterpillar borrowed from Israeli-designed tanks.
As far as is known, the Sabra Mk 3 project has not yet interested potential customers, primarily Turkey. The proposed upgrade option has noticeable advantages over the previous ones, however, it has a higher cost. In addition, the plans of the Turkish command concerning the development of armored vehicles have an impact on its prospects. Thus, it can be assumed that the Sabra Mk 3 project will never leave the stage of preliminary development and promotion in the market. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that this project may be of interest to third countries, which are still armed with old American-made tanks. Ordering retrofit kits will allow you to upgrade your equipment with a noticeable increase in its performance to an acceptable level, but at the same time save compared to purchasing new modern technology.
The project to modernize the M60A3 tanks called Sabra is of particular interest from a technical point of view. By using ready-made components and developing some new products, Israeli specialists managed to create an original project for updating outdated armored vehicles with a significant increase in its characteristics. The main advantages of new projects are the use of 120-mm guns and a modern digital fire control system. Such innovations allowed to get rid of outdated 105-mm guns and raise the firepower of tanks to a high enough level, comparable to the leading foreign developments.
Nevertheless, there are some specific drawbacks, primarily related to the modernization nature of the project. M60 tanks were equipped with homogeneous armor, which imposed serious restrictions on increasing the level of protection. Even after installing additional reservations, including those with dynamic protection (Sabra Mk 2), the level of protection of the tank may not be enough to counter modern armor-piercing shells or anti-tank missiles.
General view of the tank Sabra Mk 3. Figure Alternalhistory.com
Another disadvantage of the Sabra tank is its relatively low mobility. Even after installing a powerful 1000-strong engine, the M60T has a power density less than 17 hp. per ton, which limits the maximum speed, throughput and other mobility parameters. As a result, in a number of parameters Sabra is inferior to modern and some obsolete tanks. However, a further increase in engine power may not be possible due to an unacceptable increase in the load on the undercarriage.
The Sabra project was developed in accordance with the 2002 order of the year, and the modernization of tanks was carried out in 2007-2009. As a result, the ground forces of Turkey received 170 deeply modernized armored vehicles with enhanced characteristics. This allowed to a certain extent to update the material part of the tank units, but the proportion of the upgraded tanks M60T is not too large. For comparison, in recent years, Turkey has acquired the order of 350 tanks Leopard 2. Nevertheless, the Sabra project is considered successful, because it allowed, without significant expenses, to update a part of the outdated equipment and improve its characteristics.
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