Turkey to reveal local tank ahead of deadline
Turkey will move on to serial production of Altay battle tanks once four prototypes are finalized until 2015.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced yesterday that the Altay, Turkey’s first main battle tank, would be finished “one or two years ahead of time.”
Erdoğan attended a ceremony to mark the roll-out of the first prototype of the tank in Adapazarı, in western Turkey, together with Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, procurement chief Murad Bayar and South Korean ambassador to Turkey Lee Sang-kyu.
Nearly four years after signing a $500 million contract with the private armored vehicle maker, Turkey is looking forward to obtaining the first four prototypes of the Altay. The Otokar group, which had planned to finish the building of four prototypes by 2015, will now complete the prototypes by 2013 or 2014 under the new calendar given by Erdoğan.
“The four prototypes will undergo performance tests throughout 2013, and then we will pass into the final prototypes and serial production stage,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech, without giving exact times.
He said Turkey had been very late in completing many of its defense systems for many years and that this should be investigated. With improvements in the past 10 years, Turkey would now have the kind of unmanned aerial vehicles that only the United States and Israel currently have, as well as a military satellite with a 2.5-meter resolution rate. “We are constructing the arms that our army needs, and that can be sold,” Erdoğan said. The tank project was officially initiated on July 29, 2008, when the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), Turkey’s procurement agency, and Otokar signed a $500 million agreement for the design, development and production of four prototypes of the Altay.
South Korean partner
After a SSM meeting, a decision was made to select South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem for the overall technical support enabling business, while Turkey’s Aselan was chosen as the Fire Control System and Command, Control and Communications Information system subcontractor. State-owned MKEK was selected as the subcontractor for the 120mm primary weapon, while Roketsan was tasked with the job to provide the armor.
The new tank is named after General Fahrettin Altay, who commanded the 5th Cavalry Corps in the Turkish War of Independence. Hyundai Rotem has been tasked with working closely with Turkey’s government-owned MKEK for the development of the tank’s 120mm main gun. The South Korean company will work with Roketsan for the tank’s armor. Accordingly, Otokar’s present contract will be over by the end of 2015, when a total of four prototypes will be built.