Sabra (M60T) History

The Israeli-developed "Sabra" is a highly modified form of the American M60 "Patton" tank complete with a revised turret, more potent armament, revised armor protection, reinforced chassis and improved battlefield capabilities. More specifically, the Sabra is based on the M60A3 production model though scarcely retains the form of the original American design with modifications completed by the Israeli Military Industries (IMI) concern. The Sabra was offered to the Turkish Army for upgrading their tank fleet and entered operational service in 2007. Overall, the Sabra is a very responsive contributor with a strong power-to-weight ratio, making it an agile battlefield system. Its various upgrades have extended the service life of the basic M60 and made for a more formidable killing machine.

Israeli long-maintained military ties with the United States and, throughout its decades of existence, purchased M48 and M60 Patton tanks in some numbers. Through battlefield experience, the Army eventually modified their tanks to fit more into Israeli armored doctrine and these developments began to take on their own forms that were highly Israeli in nature. One such program produced the Magach series of main battle tanks which constituted upgraded and much improved versions of existing M48 and M60 tanks. Within time, IMI began offering an upgraded form of the M60A3 as the Sabra to then-ally Turkey, who was seeking to upgrade their current tank crop.

Externally, the Sabra does not necessarily share the rather high profile of the American M60 and sports a turret appearance more akin to that of the Merkava Main Battle Tank series with its tapered edges and clean lines. Its highly-sloped surfaces provide for vastly improved point ballistics protection. As in the original American M60, the Sabra is crewed by four specialists including a driver, tank commander, gunner and loader. The latter three share space in the turret while the driver is seated in the front center hull. There are five rubber-tired road wheels to a track side with the drive sprocket at the rear and track idler at the front. The running gear has been considerably upgraded to contend with the increased weight and expected cross-country performance of the type. The engine is seated to a compartment at the rear of the hull. The engine consists of an American-based General Dynamics / Continental AVDS-1790-5A turbocharged V12 diesel-fueled engine delivering up to 900 horsepower running at 2,400rpm. This supplies the breed with a top speed of 30 miles per hour and an operational range equal to 280 miles. Suspension is by way of independent fittings with trailing arms.

Key to the upgrades in the Sabra series is the installation of the IMI-designed and developed 120mm MG253 series smoothbore main gun which is based on the same gun as found on the Merkava Mk III combat tank series. A fume extractor and thermal sleeve are clearly identifiable along the middle portion of the gun barrel and serve to preserve the gun from field wear while reducing barrel distortion from each consecutive fire. The 120mm system is a vast upgrade over the original M60 105mm fitting and presents a more formidable anti-armor foe. The main gun is cleared to fire NATO standard 120mm caliber projectiles and is tied to the digital "Knight" Fire Control System (FCS) developed by Elbit Systems and El-Op Industries. Some 42 projectiles of 120mm ammunition are carried aboard the tank and managed by the dedicated loader. Consistent with Israeli battlefield doctrine is the equipping of a 60mm field mortar for indirect fire support.

Anti-aircraft and anti-infantry defense is provided through 7. 62mm light machine guns. One is fitted to the commander's hatch (cupola in Mk I, turret in Mk II with 12. 7mm heavy machine gun, cupola in Mk III) while the other is at the loader's hatch. The third is a coaxial fitting alongside the main gun in the turret and managed by the gunner. Additional defense is afforded by two banks of four smoke grenade dischargers to either side of the main gun emplacement on the turret. These serve to cover the tank's movements, to an extent, by providing for a makeshift smokescreen for offensive and defensive actions. Crew survivability is improved by way of an integrated fire suppression system and active threat warning indicator. The original Sabra sported a modular passive armor design which can be upgraded to Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) levels (Sabra Mk II) for improved protection of systems and crew alike.

The initial production form of the Sabra series became the Sabra Mk I which was based on an upgraded version of the preceding Israeli Magach 7C tank. The Magach series were nothing more than highly modified and upgraded M48 and M60 Patton tanks in Israeli service. Mk Is were clearly identified by their low-profile commander cupolas and were fitted with Allison CD850-6BX transmission systems tied to Continental AVDS-1790-5A diesel engines. The next major variant became the Sabra Mk II which featured provision for Explosive Reactive Armor and an M60 tank-style machine gun turret (12. 7mm M85 heavy machine gun) at the commander's cupola. Additionally, the Mk II production model was also fitted with a German-designed, Turkish-produced 1,000 horsepower MTU 881 series turbocharged diesel-fueled engine. This engine is mated to a Renk transmission system. The final variant of the Sabra line is the Sabra Mk III which introduced a remote-controlled commander's machine gun emplacement as well as an armor configuration and track systems more akin to that of the Merkava Mk 4 series main battle tank. It also retains the German MTU engine installation of the Sabra Mk II and includes a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Infrared (IR) warning system as standard.

Turkey maintains roughly 170 Sabras and these have since been upgraded to the Sabra Mk II standard and are known locally as the "M60T". The initial agreement between the two nations was signed in 2002 with deliveries of the first M60T forthcoming in 2005. The upgrade program (to Mk II standard) was undertaken from 2007 to 2009 and managed by the Turks from Israeli-supplied kits. Another upgraded M60 form - the "M60-2000" - was offered to Turkey by General Dynamics Land Systems. While Turkey has not moved on procurement of the type, Egypt has signed on to upgrade its aged M60 fleet to begin in 2011.

Sabra (M60T) Specification


Israel Military Industries (IMI) - Israel
170 Units


- Tank vs Tank

- Main Battle Tank (MBT)

- Frontline



22. 80 ft (6. 95 m)


11. 91 ft (3. 63 m)


10. 73 ft (3. 27 m)


67 tons (60,610 kg; 133,622 lb)


1 x Continental AVDS-1790-5A V12 turbocharged diesel engine developing 908 horsepower (Mk I); 1 x MTU 881 V12 turbocharged diesel engine developing 1,000 horsepower (Mk II; Mk III) driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.


Maximum Speed:

30 mph (48 kph)

Maximum Range:

280 miles (450 km)


1 x 120mm MG253 main gun in turret.

1 x 7. 62mm M240 co-axial machine gun in turret.

1 x 12. 7mm M85 Anti-Aircraft (AA) machine gun (Mk II) on turret roof.

1 x 7. 62mm machine gun at commander's cupola (Mk I and Mk III) on turret roof.

1 x 7. 62mm MG3A1 machine gun (loader's cupola) on turret roof.

1 x 60mm field mortar.

8 x Smoke Grenade Dischargers on turret in two banks of four launchers.


42 x 120mm projectiles.

1,000 x 12. 7mm ammunition.

3,000 x 7. 62mm ammunition.

8 x Smoke Grenades.


Sabra - Base Series Designation

Sabra Mk I - Initial Production Mark; Continental diesel engine; low-profile cupola; Allison transmission.

Sabra Mk II (M60T) - Provision for Explosive Reactive Armor; MTU diesel engine; Renk tranmission system; turreted M85 12. 7mm machine gun at commander's position.

Sabra Mk III - Remote-controlled commander's low-profile machine gun emplacement; armor configuration and track systems of Merkava Mk 4 series; MTU engine; RWR/IR warning systems.

Related stuff

1400 1514 1587 1765 1774 1775 1776 1782 1785 1786 1791 1797 1811 1813 1819 1840 1841 1842 1852 1853 1855 1856 1857 1859 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869 1870 1873 1874 1875 1877 1878 1885 1886 1888 1889 1895 1896 1897 1898 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022