In the second incident, only one of the crew survived. By now it is believed at least eleven Turkish Pattons have been destroyed in Syria.
The situation is even worse in Yemen, where Pattons are operated both by Army units supporting Houthi rebels as well as Saudi Arabia. More than 22 destroyed Patton’s have been recorded in the conflict.
Keep in mind that even the up-armored Sabras are taking losses, and the SLEP upgrade doesn’t feature survivability improvements besides the removal of the turret hydraulics. The Patton’s armor protection would prove even more inadequate against the armor-piercing sabot rounds of tank guns, which are harder to protect against.
Raytheon is offering an update to the Patton that makes it a killer (of tanks), but not a survivor. However, the trend in modern warfare strongly favors keeping one’s own soldiers alive. Even Russia’s new T-14 tank, with its unmanned turret and sophisticated defensive systems, reflects this priority.
The Patton may reliably soldier on and contribute its heavy firepower to the battlefield—but in an era where minimizing casualties and denying propaganda victories to the other side is important, its dated armor protection will remain a liability.
Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.
Image: Creative Commons.