Yemen M60

Yemen is believed to operate an unknown number of US made M60 MBTs (Main Battle Tank).

There is very limited information available on Yemeni M60.   Few references indicate Yemen as an operator of this type, whilst those that do fail to indicate a supplier or reach a consensus on the number received [1]

The limited number of photographs and video footage available suggest the examples shown to M60A1s, though this is unconfirmed and Yemen may also operate M60A3 [2].

A Yemeni Army M60 as photographed in or prior to 2002. Source: BBC

Stills from a video clip reportedly showing the capture of a Yemeni Army M60 by the Houthis insurgency group.  This video can be dated as being taken between 2004-09[4]. Original Source LiveLeak[5], edited by the Author.


[1] "240" Wikipedia (no citation) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M60_Patton (accessed 08/09/2012) & "64" Army Guide http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product475.html (accessed 08/09/2012)
[2] This is based primarily on absence of the thermal sleeve on the gun barrel associated with the M60A3.  The author recognises this may not be a robust indicator and welcomes any further assistance in identifying the variant.
[4] The Houthis armed and intiated the insurgency in North Yemen in late 2004, the video was added to LiveLeak on 22/09/2009.
[4] LiveLeak http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=4e6_1253651865 (accessed 08/09/2012)

Libya M109

In August 2012 photographs emerged online showing US made M109 SPGs (Self Propelled Gun) in Libya.

Although absent in the majority of references regarding M109 operators a couple of sources have claimed a small number  (12-18) of M109s were delivered to Libya.  The pictures confirm those claims, representing the first pictorial evidence of Libyan M109s in the public domain, as far as the author is aware.

  Source: SSC Tripoli

The three photographs used in this article are all taken from the Facebook profile of the SSC (Supreme Security Committee) Tripoli [1].  They are reportedly taken around Tarhuna near Tripoli and related to the capture of a large number of artillery of various types from pro-Gaddafi militia [2].

The photographs show two M109 examples both representing the initial M109 base variant, identifiable by the original shorter 22-calibre barrel.  This variant first entered US service in 1963.   Later M109A1-A6 and international versions featured longer barrels along with a host of other improvements.

The same M109, photographed from a slightly elevated angle. Note the Italian made Palmaria SPG immediately behind.  Source: SSC Tripoli

No further details regarding M109s in Libyan Service, including any potential use in the 2011 Civil War, are currently available.  The serviceability of these two examples it also unclear with no indication that these vehicles have been moved whilst under the control of the militia.  The condition of any other surviving M109s in Libya also remain unknown.  Despite their apparent age and probable scarcity of spares during the Gaddafi era the operational readiness of these vehicles prior to the Civil War should not be discounted, given evidence of other Libyan equipment performing under similar circumstances [3].

The logic of retaining and maintaining this relatively outdated type in such apparently small numbers is questionable, particularly given that Libya's procurement of more modern SPGs in significant numbers [4].

Three Palmaria (foreground) and a second M109 (background).  Source: SSC Tripoli

Close up of the second M109.   The different position of the commander’s cupola and closed hatch along with the different shadows suggest this is a different M109 as the photographs are believed to have been taken on the same occasion.  Original Source: SSC Tripoli, edited by the Author.


The M109 has been widely exported since it’s introduction almost half a century ago.  However only those early export customers are believed to have received this initial base variant with the majority of those later upgrading their examples to M109A1 standard or above.  This suggests that the availability of this version for export from a third party was soon limited.

It is therefore the inference of the author that the USA was the direct supplier, exporting them to Libya between 1963-68.  This is based upon the low probability of a third party supplier and known [5] and suspected [6] export of arms by the USA to Libya prior to the Gaddafi era. 


[1] SSC Tripoli http://www.facebook.com/SSCTRIPOLI (accessed 07/09/2012)
[4] 130 x 2S1 GVOZDIKA 122mm (1980-82), 168 x 2S3 Akatsiya 152mm  (1980-82), 20-80 x DANA 152mm (1983-84)& 210 x Palmaria 155mm (1982-1985). SIPRI Arms Transfer Database http://www.sipri.org (accessed 07/09/2011)
[5] SIPRI Arms Transfer Database http://www.sipri.org (accessed 07/09/2011)