The M60 Armored Vehicle Land Bridge (AVLB) is an M60 Patton battle tank that has been modified and equipped with a 19-meter retractable bridge. The AVLB was introduced back in 1987 as a combat engineering vehicle with the ability to quickly deploy a bridge on the field in less than 2 minutes.
The M60 AVLB was developed by General Dynamics to replace the older M48 AVLB. That was also designed to serve the same purpose of deploying bridges for tanks and other wheeled combat vehicles to overcome trenches and watercourses on the battlefield.
400 of these vehicles are in operation to date and are used by various national armed forces including Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and Spain. The vehicle can quickly deploy a 19-meter bridge over water, trenches, and other obstacles offering a quick passage for other vehicles.
Each M60 AVLB’s MLC-60 scissor bridge weighs at a huge 13 tonnes and is entirely constructed of aluminium. Even though the bridge spans 19 meters in length, it only needs half a meter on each side to support tracked and wheeled vehicles of up to a weight of 60 tonnes.
Each M60 AVLB uses a modified M60A1 tank chassis. The turret has been replaced with a bridge launching system. The driver’s position has also been pushed rearward. The amazingly engineered tank unfolds the bridge vertically and lowers it into place on the other side of the channel. The tank disconnects after the bridge has been laid in place and can drive over to pick it back up on the other side.
The M60 AVLB is powered by a 750 hp Continental AVDS-1790-2A turbocharged diesel engine capable of reaching speeds up to 48km/h for a range of 460km despite the 51.3-tonne setback. The brilliant piece of engineering is such that even if the engine breaks, it can be replaced in under four hours.
The bridge layer has a torsion bar-type suspension made of six road wheels with an idler to the rear having three track return rollers. Even though the main purpose of M60 AVLB was a support vehicle for the US army, it has a number of non-combat applications.
The vehicle can come in handy under extreme crisis situations such as floods and earthquakes that often take out entire bridges. The portable bridge is a quick solution for such cases and in remote areas that are unreachable otherwise. This vehicle has the potential to save many lives. It has saved many lives and will continue to do so in the future.
You can see it in action below in the video below: