MBT-70 and XM-803

MBT-70 at Aberdeen

XM-803 at Ft. Knox

The MBT-70 was a joint US and West German program started in 1963 to replace the M-60.  The tank featured an auto-loading 152mm gun which would fire anti-tank missiles at a range up to 5,200 meters or armor piercing rounds closer in.  The tank also featured spaced armor and a laser rangefinder.  In addition to a machine gun, the tank had a remotely controlled 20mm gun which was stored in the turret when not in use.  The crew of three stayed in the turret for nuclear, chemical, and biological protection.  The driver would be in a separate capsule on the left of the turret which kept him facing forward as the turret rotated, which often made him sick.  The suspension was hydraulic and able to change the height and hull angle of the tank.

It was hoped the tank would stay in service into the 1990s, but only twelve prototypes were built.  The Germans were rightfully suspicious of the combination gun and missile launcher, and Congress was annoyed at the increasing costs of the program, with prices of over $1 million per tank expected by 1970.  The Americans and Germans split, with both programs aiming for a less capable and more affordable vehicle; the American program was called the XM-803.  One MBT-70 was made into an XM-803, but Congress pulled the plug in December 1971.  The Army made do with the M-60 until the M-1 was introduced in the 1980s. 

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