The Turkish Altay Main Battle Tank Development
Turkey has been implementing a program of modernisation for its current fleet of M60 Patton’s, Leopard 1 and Leopard 2’s, but the Altay is Turkeys first indigenousness main battle tank and is befittingly named after Gen. Fahrettin Altay who commanded the 5th Cavalry Corps in the Turkish War of Independence.
Though the Altay will be developed and manufactured in Turkey, the country wisely enlisted the help of an established AFV manufacturer to provide technical support.
South Korean manufacturer Hyundai Rotem has been the principal contractor in the development of the countries new K2 Panther main battle tank and has been the most modern and sophisticated tank in development, so in 2008 Turkey signed an agreement with Hyundai Rotem who will be working with the following Turkish companies on the following key attributes of the vehicle:
Aselan will develop and manufacturer the Fire Control System (3rd generation standard) Command and Control systems as well as Communications/Battlefield Management systems.
MKEK will develop and manufacturer the 120mm (Calibre Length 55) smoothbore main gun.
Roketsan will develop and manufacturer the modular armour and composite inserts.
This means that when and if the vehicle enters serial production, it will be completed by Turkish companies using Turkish materials and braking the reliance on non-indigenousness parts/suppliers.
The whole design, development and manufacturer of four prototypes was budgeted at $500 million with established Turkish AFV manufacturer Otokar, who is the principal contractor.
The first public mock up was completed and on display in May 2011. At least 2 of the four working prototypes for trials have been completed and shown to the public during a ceremony in November 2012, bring the whole project ahead of schedule and should enter serial production during 2015.
Turkey has a requirement for 1000 Altay Main Battle Tanks and its under stood that these will be built in four batches with upgrades introduced at the same time. One such upgrade will be the engine. Though Turkey is developing a new 1500hp (possibly 1800hp) engine it will not be ready for 2015, instead German MTU engines will be used.
The race for the serial production will involve an initial batch of 250 tanks to be followed by three follow-on orders each comprising 250 more tanks. Defense officials say the contract will be put out for tender after the Turkish presidential elections.
Operated by a 4 man crew, the Altay will be a well balanced modern 3rd Generation Main Battle Tank in the 60 tonne class and will be a big improvement over current upgraded tanks within the Turkish Army.