Turkey’s first tank takes shape in flesh and bones
SAKARYA - Hürriyet Daily News
This photo shows a mock-up of the Altay, tank named after Army Gen. Fahrettin Altay, who commanded the 5th Cavalry Corps in the Turkish War of Independence. The project was officially initiated on March 30, 2007 with a deal with Otokar group. Hürriyet photoTurkey is finally looking forward to obtaining the first four prototypes of its first main national battle tank, the Altay, nearly five years after signing a $500 million contract with Otokar, a private maker of armored vehicles.
During a visit marking the opening of an electro-magnetic capability test center for the four prototypes, procurement and company officials announced previously unknown details about Turkey’s tank program.
The tank center is related to the production of the Altay by the Otokar group, a company owned by the Istanbul-based Koç group.
The project was officially initiated on March 30, 2007, 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 Altay prototypes.
A decision was then made to select South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem for the overall technical support enabling business. Turkey’s Aselan was chosen as the Fire Control System and Command, Control and Communications Information system subcontractor. Also, the state-owned Turkish company 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 Army Gen. Fahrettin Altay, who commanded the 5th Cavalry Corps in the Turkish War of Independence.
Hyundai Rotem was tasked with working closely with MKEK for the development of the tank’s 120 mm main gun and will also work with Roketsan for the tank’s armor.
Accordingly, Otokar’s present $500 million contract will finish by the end of 2015, when a total of four prototypes will be built. Because these prototypes will be accepted by the government’s procurement agency, a serial-production agreement will be signed.
New firms may bid
However, because that agreement is not yet ready, there is no guarantee that Otokar will get the job, according to procurement and company officials. If this is the case the company’s main Turkish rivals, FNSS and BMC, could grab the contract.
Meanwhile, by the end of 2015, Huyundai Rotem will be left without a job with the completion of the prototypes.
By 2017, the serial-production agreement will be in effect, and together with the expected foreign orders, a first batch of at least 300 tanks is expected to be produced. The Altay will probably be the world’s most modern tank in the 60-ton-tank category by then, procurement officials said. The Altay’s prototypes are due to be finished in 2015, and serial production is due to start in the following years. The tank is due to 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 during the IDEF-2011 fair in Istanbul last May.
The electro-magnetic test center will open before the tests for the capability of the tanks. The company’s director general, Serdar Görgüç, said the center could be used by the world’s military and civilian manufacturers, after obtaining permission from the firm.
But he and Kudret Önen, the head of the board of directors of Otokar, said the company would work without a partner if it were tasked with serial production responsibility. “We have all the necessary capability to manufacture the tank,” Önen said.