The Ukrainian military has recently received the first bridge-laying systems based on the Cold War-era M60 Patton tanks.
According to reports from Militarnyi, the M60 tank-based Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges (AVLBs) have been delivered and are now in the service of the 5th Separate Tank Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The U.S. commitment to supply Ukraine with M60 AVLBs was announced in March 2023.
The U.S. State Department’s report indicates that Ukraine has received a total of 18 armored bridge-laying systems based on the M60 tank platform. These versatile AVLBs have the capability to deploy bridges of up to 18 meters in length, depending on the specific bridge configuration, with a maximum load capacity of up to 60 tons.
The initial version of the M60 AVLB was produced between 1963 and 1967. Many of the chassis for the M60A1 AVLBs were repurposed from M60A2 Patton tanks and underwent extensive modifications to serve as bridge-laying vehicles from 1987 to 1996.
The bridge itself is designed to be stored in a folded position while the vehicle is in transit, and it can be deployed using the bridge-launching mechanism when needed. The original bridge design measures approximately 60 feet in length and 12.5 feet in width. Over the years, improved versions of these bridges have been introduced, primarily characterized by their increased weight-carrying capacity.
This bridge system is capable of accommodating the weight of a current-generation M1A2 SEPv3 tank, which weighs approximately 72 tons, but this is achievable only when spanning a gap no wider than 48 feet, according to an unclassified Army manual.