The 105 mm Gun Full Tracked Combat Tank, M60, also known unofficially as the M60 Patton, is a first-generation main battle tank (MBT) introduced in December 1960. It was widely used by the U.S. and its Cold War allies, especially those in NATO, and remains in service throughout the world today despite having been superseded by the M1 Abrams in the U.S. military. Egypt is currently the largest operator with 1,700 upgraded M60A3s, Turkey is second with more than 900 upgraded units in service, and Israel is third with over 700 units of Israeli variants.
In 1978, work began on the M60A3 variant. It featured a number of technological enhancements, including smoke dischargers, a new flash-lamp pumped ruby-laser based rangefinder (AN/VVG-2) that could be used by both commander and gunner, and an M21 ballistic computer, and a turret stabilization system.
Late production M60A3s omitted the commander's cupola (Israeli Defence Force armor doctrine required tank commanders to fight commander-exposed, and it was discovered that non-penetrating hits upon the vehicle could dislodge the cupola from its mount while the commander was in it). The remote-controlled M85 machinegun was relatively ineffective in the anti-aircraft role for which it was designed compared to a conventional pintle mount. Removing the cupola lowered the vehicle's relatively high silhouette. The cupola's hatch also opened toward the rear of the vehicle and was dangerous to close if under small-arms fire owing to an open-locking mechanism that required the user to apply leverage to unlock it prior to closing.
The M60A3 was phased out of US service in 1997, but it has remained a front-line MBT into the 21st century for a number of other countries.