El ejército de Turquía recibe los primeros tanques M-60T modernizados

Las Fuerzas Armadas de Turquía disponen de una importante flota de tanques en servicio Leopard 2A 4 y M60 A3 (USA), pero algunos de ellos con más de 50 años en servicio. Para su reemplazo, avanzan desde hace tiempo en el programa “ALTAY MBT”, un tanque de última generación totalmente desarrollado y producido por la industria nacional y equipado con tecnología adecuada para satisfacer los requerimientos de un moderno tanque de batalla (MBT). Sin embargo, el nuevo tanque demorará años y para sostener una adecuada capacidad de combate en los sistemas actuales, se ha resuelto desarrollar simultáneamente el programa “TYIK M-60T”. Su objetivo es modernizar completamente los tanques M60 con equipamiento de última generación como: “Sistema de Armas Controlado Remotamente (RCWS), “Sistema de Protección Activa (APS) PULAT”, “Close Range Surveillance System”, “Laser Warning System” y otros más, que permitirán otorgar al tanque M60, algunos años más de servicio activo.

The Turkish Armed Forces received the first batch of modernized M-60T Main Battle Tanks through the “TİYK – M60T” program launched by the Turkish Defense Industries Agency (SSB). The delivery ceremony took place in Şereflikoçhisar, attended by Haluk Görgün, President of the Defense Industries Agency, Celal Sami Tüfekçi, Deputy Minister of National Defense, General Selçuk Bayraktaroğlu, Commander of the Turkish Land Forces, as well as Turkish Armed Forces and industry representatives.

From the delivery ceremony of the modernized M60T tanks to the Turkish Land Forces within the scope of the “TİYK – M60T” project / From Aselsan

Prof. Dr. Görgün, President of the Turkish Defense Industry Agency, stated: “the difficulties experienced in the maintenance and sustainability of the M60 Tanks, whose configurations have been updated with improvements carried out by foreign companies in the past, and the problems posed to us by the countries providing products and services have pushed us to become a country that researches, develops, produces, and prepares solutions.”

Görgün stated that he initiated the “TİYK” project for the improvement of the tanks in the inventory of the Turkish Land Forces Command for this reason, and added “Within the scope of this project… the basic elements of the tank, especially the fire control system, were shaped with domestic design products. The upshot of bad neighbors, as in many fields, was the development of our country’s defense industry.  M60T Tanks are known for their powerful propulsion systems, effective firepower, and durability”, Görgün concluded, “our country has updated these tanks through modernization efforts, making them compatible with today’s technology. With the sale of our fire control systems as an export item, our technological superiority in this field has been recognized by countries around the world. I would like to extend my thanks to Aselsan and all our subcontractor companies that have contributed to the project.”

An M60 Patton main battle tank belonging to the US Army

The M60 Patton tanks, developed in the early 1960s, were designed using knowledge gained from the M48 Patton to meet the primary battle tank requirements of the United States and its allies. These tanks were later exported to more than 20 countries and used in numerous conflicts around the world. However, as the 1990s approached, the M60 tanks became obsolete, unable to meet the demands of modern warfare. As a result, many countries, including the United States, decommissioned them in favor of newer tank models. However, these tanks are still used by countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Bahrain.

Two M-60A3 main battle tanks move along a road during Central Guardian, a phase of Exercise Reforger ’85. / Photo by Tech. Sgt. Boyd Belcher

Turkey was first introduced to M60 Patton tanks when the United States donated them to Turkey at the end of the Gulf War in exchange for its support to the Allied forces. These donated tanks included various models such as the M60, A1 and A3. In 2002, Turkey needed to replace its M60 Patton tanks after Greece acquired Leopard 2 tanks from Germany. In response, the Defense Industries Agency signed an agreement with IMI Systems (later renamed Elbit Systems Land in 2018), an Israeli company, to modernize more than 180 M60 tanks to the M-60T (Sabra) standard. Turkey started receiving these modernized tanks in 2005, with the last delivery taking place in 2010. However, due to deteriorating relations between Turkey and Israel and other factors, the two countries did not cooperate further on this issue.

M60T main battle tank modernized by Aselsan from M60 Patton at the DEF 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey. / Image Author: CeeGee / Copyright: CC BY-SA 4.0

M-60T tanks played an important role in Operation Euphrates Shield, which Turkey launched in 2016 against DAESH and the PKK that took advantage of the authority vacuum in the region due to the civil unrest in Syria. During this operation, the Turkish Armed Forces experienced the deficiencies of the Active Protection Systems of M-60T tanks against guided anti-tank munitions, RPGs and their derivatives, HEAT or KE munitions fired from tanks, many of which were painful experiences. In light of these experiences, the Defense Industries Agency (SSB) launched the “Fırat M60T” project in 2017 to improve the anti-tank defense capability of M60T tanks. The M-60T Tanks, which were modernized under the main contractor of Aselsan, were equipped with the “Pulat” Active Protection System, Remote Controlled Weapon System (SARP), Telescopic Periscope System (TEPES), Close Range Surveillance System (YAMGÖZ), Tank Laser Warning System (TLUS), Inner Liner Protection (Spall Liner), Auxiliary Current System, Air Conditioning System and Power Distribution System.

An M-60T main battle tank modernized under the Fırat M-60T program / From the Turkish Defense Industry Agency

Although the M60T Tanks, which were modernized within the scope of the “Fırat M60T” project, were equipped with more advanced defensive capabilities, it was of great importance for the Turkish Land Forces to replace the fire control systems of these equipment. In 2022, the “TİYK – M60T” Project was agreed between the Defense Industry Agency and ASELSAN. Within the scope of the program, the VOLKAN-M Fire Control System, Tank Command Control Communication Information System, additional armor protection and new crew seats were integrated into the M-60T Tanks.

An M-60T Main Battle Tank modernized under the TİYK M-60T program / From Aselsan

In addition to the “TİYK – M60T” project, Turkey, under the leadership of the Defense Industries Agency (SSB), is also working on the comprehensive modernization of the M60A3 and Leopard 2A4 Tanks, which constitute a significant majority of its tank fleet. Although these tanks are still mobile and operational thanks to the modernizations they have undergone, their average age is close to 60 years. In addition to modernizing its aging tank fleet, Turkey is also trying to realize its long-standing Altay tank project. According to a statement made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at last year’s New Generation FIRTINA Howitzer delivery ceremony, serial production of the Altay Tank will begin in 2025. However, given previous statements, it would not be a surprise if this date changes.

Fuente: https://www.overtdefense.com