In response to modern battlefield needs, Raytheon offers the Service Life Extension Program to re-design and re-equip current M-60A3 tanks giving them significant tactical advantages. Named the Raytheon M60A3 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), the upgrade is being offered for export to nations that need the performance to take on threats like a Russian-built T-90S, but can’t afford a top-of-the-line machine like the M1A2 SEP(v)3 Abrams or Leopard 2A7.
At the core of the upgrade is a new 950-horsepower diesel engine—which replaces the original 750-horsepower unit. As part of the deal, the engine would be reconditioned to a zero hour condition. Meanwhile, the old turret hydraulic controls would be replaced with new electrical systems, which are faster, more responsive and quieter than their predecessors.
Furthermore the 105 mm M68 rifled tank gun is replaced by the 120 mm M256 smoothbore gun of the M1A1 Abrams tank (German-made L44 120mm). The addition of the new weapon would give the M60A3 the ability to engage enemy tanks as advanced as the T-90MS on a near equal footing. In fact, with the upgrade, the M60 probably outperforms older M1A1 variants. That’s because in addition to the new cannon, the M60 would receive completely new digital fire-control and targeting systems—including day and thermal sights. The system is comparable to the U.S. Army’s M1A1D standard. Indeed, the fire-control software was developed for the U.S. Army.
That one major side benefit of the SLEP is that training and maintenance cost would be lower than for new tank because crews are already familiar with the basic M60. That means that Raytheon is targeting the existing base of M60 users around the world—which is still a substantial market. It is likely that the M60A3 SLEP would fair well against most T-72 variants that are found around the world. However, it remains to be seen if it would be truly effective against modern enemy tanks like the T-90A—and especially the extremely formidable T-14 Armata.