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Turkish army to receive first Altay tanks for tests

Turkish Land Forces are expected to take delivery of the first two Altay main battle tanks for testing next month. The tests of the tank are expected to be completed in 2024 with mass production expected to begin in 2025.

The Altay main battle tank is a new generation of Turkish armored vehicle that is expected to enter service with the Turkish army in 2023. The tank is based on the South Korean K2 Black Panther design, but with several modifications and improvements to suit the Turkish operational requirements and environmental conditions. The tank is named after General Fahrettin Altay, who led the 5th Cavalry Corps during the Turkish War of Independence.

The Altay tank project was initiated in 2008 by the Turkish Ministry of National Defense, with the aim of developing a modern and indigenous tank that could replace the aging fleet of Leopard 2A4 and M60T tanks. The project was awarded to Otokar, a Turkish company that specializes in military vehicles, as the main contractor and designer. Otokar collaborated with several other Turkish companies, such as Aselsan, Roketsan, MKEK and Havelsan, as well as Hyundai Rotem from South Korea, which provided design assistance and technology transfer.

The first prototype of the Altay tank was unveiled in 2012, followed by four more prototypes that underwent extensive testing and evaluation between 2013 and 2016. In 2018, BMC, another Turkish company that produces military vehicles, won a contract to produce 250 Altay tanks for the first batch of mass production. BMC also became responsible for further development and improvement of the tank design.

The Altay tank features a 120 mm smoothbore gun as its main armament, which can fire various types of ammunition, including armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) and high-explosive squash head (HESH) rounds. The gun has an automatic loader system that reduces the crew size to four (commander, gunner, loader and driver). The secondary armament consists of a remotely controlled weapon station mounted on the turret roof, equipped with a 12.7 mm or a 7.62 mm machine gun, and a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun.

The Altay tank has a composite armor package developed by Roketsan based on Korean Special Armor Plate (KSAP), which provides protection against kinetic energy penetrators and shaped charge warheads. The tank also has an active protection system developed by Aselsan called AKKOR, which can detect incoming threats and launch countermeasures such as smoke grenades or hard-kill projectiles to neutralize them. The AKKOR system also incorporates electronic warfare capabilities to jam or deceive enemy sensors and communication systems.

The Altay tank is powered by a diesel engine that delivers 1,500 hp for lot one production tanks or an indigenous engine developed by BMC Power for lot two production tanks onwards. The engine is coupled with an automatic transmission system that allows the tank to reach a maximum speed of 65 km/h on road or 45 km/h off road. The tank has a hydropneumatic suspension system that provides smooth ride quality and variable ground clearance. The operational range of the tank is estimated at 450 km.

The Altay tank is equipped with advanced fire-control system developed by Aselsan that includes day/night sights for commander and gunner; laser rangefinder; ballistic computer; thermal imaging camera; meteorological sensor; inertial navigation system; global positioning system; digital map display; intercom system; radio communication system; battlefield management system; friend-or-foe identification system; situational awareness cameras; driver’s vision enhancement device; etc.

The Altay tank project represents Turkey’s ambition to become self-reliant in producing its own military equipment and reducing its dependence on foreign suppliers. The project also showcases Turkey’s technological capabilities and industrial potential in developing sophisticated armored vehicles that can compete with other modern tanks in terms of performance and protection. Turkey plans to produce up to 1,000 Altay tanks in four batches of 250 units each for its own army as well as potential export customers.

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