Ukrainian army reportedly received M60 AVLB mobile bridges

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have reportedly received M60 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges (AVLBs), according to Military Land and the Twitter account Jeff2146. This marks a significant improvement in their military capabilities. These bridges, built on the chassis of the American M60 Patton tank, feature a scissor-type bridge that extends up to 18 meters. The United States committed to providing these vehicles to Ukraine in March 2023 as part of its military aid.
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The M60 AVLB is a modification of the M60A2 tanks into specialized bridge layers. (Picture source: US DoD)

Recent photographs reveal the presence of these M60 AVLBs within the 5th Ukrainian Armored Brigade. The Twitter account Jeff2146 has identified the vehicles, marking their potentially confirmed first appearance in Ukrainian service. It is worth noting that the 5th Armored Brigade, established in January 2023, is a new formation and not a continuation of the 5th Armored Brigade of the Reserve Corps from 2016, although some soldiers wear the insignia of the older unit.

These mobile bridge systems are vital for the Ukrainian forces, enabling rapid and strategic movements on challenging terrains. The M60 AVLB can deploy bridges capable of supporting loads of up to 60 tonnes, depending on the bridge model. This capability is crucial for transporting heavy military equipment, including tanks, across difficult terrains and water obstacles.

Originally produced between 1963 and 1967, the M60 AVLBs underwent significant modifications from 1987 to 1996, transforming older M60A2 Patton tanks into specialized bridge layers. The vehicle's design allows the driver and commander to sit side by side in the modified hull, a notable change from the typical tank layout.

The bridge-laying system operates through a hydraulic mechanism located where the driver's seat would traditionally be. This system can precisely and efficiently deploy the bridge forward, allowing for quick installation and recovery during combat operations.

The importance of bridge layers for the Ukrainian armed forces, especially in the current conflict with Russia, cannot be underestimated. Specialized vehicles like the M60 AVLB play a crucial role in the maneuverability and flexibility of military operations. In a wartime environment where infrastructure is often damaged or deliberately destroyed, the ability to quickly cross rivers, ravines, or other natural obstacles is essential.

In a combat scenario, roads and bridges are common strategic targets, frequently destroyed to slow down the enemy's advance or protect key areas. The destruction of these infrastructures can significantly hinder troop movements, the transport of heavy equipment like tanks, and the delivery of essential supplies. Therefore, bridge layers enable the Ukrainian forces to swiftly overcome these obstacles, ensuring rapid deployment of troops and equipment where they are needed most.

In addition to the M60 AVLBs, the Ukrainian forces have also been equipped with German Biber tank bridge layers, demonstrating the international support received by Ukraine to strengthen its military capabilities in the face of ongoing challenges.