Turkey launches tank test center

Turkey launches tank test center

SAKARYA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey launches tank test center

The mock up of Turkey’s main battle tank Altay is seen at new tank test center. DHA photo

Turkey has taken a crucial step toward the construction of its first main battle tank, the Altay, with the opening of its first electromagnetic compatibility tank test center in the northwestern province of Sakarya.

Thanks to the center, the first tank designed by Koç-owned Otokar – which will build the Altay – will enter into service by 2017, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said yesterday at the facility’s opening ceremony. “It is so valuable for us. It is the apple of our eye.”

The center will test the electromagnetic compatibility of the prototypes scheduled to be produced under the contract.

Once the Altay is finished, all the intellectual property rights related to it will belong to Turkey, said Murad Bayar, the head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM).

Otokar is the only company designing a new tank in the world today, and the Altay will be the most modern one in the field, said Kudret Önen, Otokar’s chairman.

The project was officially initiated on March 30, 2007, when the SSM, Turkey’s procurement agency, and Otokar signed a $500 million agreement for the design, development and production of our prototypes of Turkey’s first tank.

There is no guarantee Otokar will be selected to carry out the project during the serial production phase, due to start with at least 250 tanks in coming years.

An SSM decision selected South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem for the overall technical support-enabling business. Turkey’s Aselan was chosen as the subcontractor for the fire control system and the command, control and communications information system.

Also, state-owned MKEK was selected as the subcontractor for the 120 mm primary weapon, while Roketsan was tasked with the job of providing the armor.

The tank was named after Gen. Fahrettin Altay, who commanded the 5th Cavalry Corps in the Turkish War of Independence.

The tank will be operated by four personnel and is expected to weigh about 60 tons.

The mock-up of the first Altay tank was introduced to the Turkish public at the IDEF-2011 fair in Istanbul last May.