CM-11 Brave Tiger (M48H) Main Battle Tank (MBT)
The Taiwanese CM-11 Main Battle Tank represents a heavily-modified and upgraded form of the American M48 and M60 series combat tanks - utilizing components from both lines.
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The CM-11 is a Taiwanese military Main Battle Tank (MBT) consisting of the hull of the American-made M60 "Patton" MBT with a modified turret of the older American M48 "Patton" Medium Tank series (in particular the M48H production model). The M48 dates back to a 1951 requirement appearing during the Korean War (1950-1953) and saw production begin in 1952 before being formally designated in 1953. Production ran up to 1959 with some 11,700 examples delivered. The M60 followed some time later to become the United States Army's first Main Battle Tank design and saw introduction in 1961 - some still serving today - with over 15,000 of several variants produced.
The Taiwanese Army began use of M48 tanks through the M48A3 (ROC Variant) mark and these were M48A1 / M48A2 series tanks with much of their original equipment in place - and performance to include a rather restrictive operational range of 195 miles.
The CM-11 "Brave Tiger" of the Taiwanese Army was born through a 1990 initiative seeking to upgrade its armored corps through a M48A2 turret and newer M60 Patton MBT hull. The turret fitted a 105mm main gun, an advanced Fire Control System, stabilized sights, ballistics computer and thermal imaging. Through this process, the tank was put on par with the existing, and newer, M60 Patton systems. Accuracy was improved by way of a joined imaging and target system as well as dual-axis stabilization for target tracking and firing-on-the-move. Several machine guns became optional fits on the turret roof - at both the commander's cupola and the loader's hatch - for local self-defense against infantry and air attack and a coaxial 7.62mm weapon in the turret face. For additional defense, 12 x smoke grenade dischargers were carried on the turret to self-screen the vehicle when needed. Like the base M48 before it, the CM-11 would be crewed by four personnel made up of the driver (seated front-center in the hull), the gunner, loader and vehicle commander. The commander's position was at right of the turret, just behind the gunner, while the loader was situated to his left. Base armor protection reached 143mm at the most critical facings while the tank tipped the scales at nearly 50 tons.
In terms of installed power, the tank was driven by a General Dynamics AVDS-1790-2C series diesel-fueled engine developing 750 horsepower. This gave the vehicle a maximum road speed of 30 miles per hour on prepared surfaces.
Another variant of the CM-11 line appeared as the "CM-12" and this product combined the FCS and weapons set of the earlier CM-11 model to the existing M48A3 tanks with engine compartments original to the M48 / M48A1 stock. Range was further reduced to just 126 miles.
January 2015 - It was shown that the CM-11 series MBTs have been upgraded with some form of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks about its hull and turret sections, no doubt improving battlefield survivability some - particularly in the face of improved tank munitions and Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) systems emerging from China.
Only the battlefield will tell how the CM-11 stands up in combat. Its design is essentially rooted in Cold Was technology and its 105mm main gun falls short of the newer 120mm auto-loading systems that would be fielded by its enemy.