In 1963, USA and West Germany started a joint program to carry out a MBT to replace in the future their M-60 and Leopard 1 tanks respectively. The project was baptized as MBT/KPz-70 and it was intended to build a vehicle with innovative systems that could reach the 21st century leading the main battle tanks world. The design managers would be the General Motors’s Allison Division on the American side, and Krauss-Maffei company on the German side. From the beginning disagreements arose regarding the armament, but in 1966 14 prototypes were ready for the testing phase. In 1966, the mobility tests began with two hulls made with mild steel and in 1968 the full tests began. The MBT/KPz-70 was designed as a platform with all the technological advances available for the battlefield, and still remains an unbeaten design in some aspects. Among these developments were an automatic device for the selection and loading of the 152mm ammunition, a fire control system with an integrated laser rangefinder, night and IR vision, and a complete stabilization system to fire in movement, a navigation system, a variable compression multifuel engine, hydropneumatic suspension and an environmental control life support system, along with a sophisticated NBC protection system. Although it was clear that the MBT/KPz-70 was a masterpiece, the main recurring problem, (apart from the cost), was the main armament. The 152mm XM-150 gun-launcher was not to the German liking that always opted for the 120mm Rheinmetall smoothbore gun. The 152mm ammunition was “caseless” and caused a lot of problems as it was prone to wetting and expanding, as well as leaving hard residue in the gun after the shot. Also, this ammunition was prone to firing prematurely due to the heat generated in the gun by the previous shots, which was a very serious problem. Another serious problem was that the driver was located inside the turret and the swinging of the tank used to cause frequent dizziness in addition to being disoriented when the turret was turned. As the project progressed, the costs did not stop increasing, resulting in 1969 to be 5 times higher than originally estimated. It was calculated that a standard MBT/KPz-70 would have a price of 1 million dollars, when the cost of an M-60A1 tank was about 220,000 dollars, something totally unsustainable. So, in June 1970, after an audit commissioned by the US Senate, the total cancellation of the project was decided.
MBT/KPz-70 gallery and more info