Collaborative Development of Main Battle Tanks

Lessons from the U. S.-German Experience, 1963-1978

by Tom L. McNaugher

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Examines the U.S.-West German effort to collaborate in the development of main battle tanks. The effort began in 1963 with the MBT-70 program, an ambitious cooperative attempt to develop a single tank. Because the two armies could not reconcile their differing concepts of tanks and tank warfare, this effort produced a complex and expensive tank and increasing duplicative development work in each nation. In 1969 the program was abandoned, and each nation set about developing its own tank. Collaboration was suggested again in 1973, this time as an effort either to sell West Germany's Leopard II to the U.S. Army or to trade components across ongoing national development programs. The latter effort produced an agreement to mount the German 120mm gun on later versions of the U.S. XM-1 tank, but this amount of collaboration succeeded only after substantial political debate in the Congress. The Note discusses major impediments to collaboration in these cases, and suggests strategies for future collaboration on armored vehicles.

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