The Altay is a modern main battle tank, based on the South Korean K2 Black Panther tank, developed by Otokar, a subsidiary of Koç Holding, for the Turkish Army and export markets. It is named in honor of Army General Fahrettin Altay who commanded the 5th Cavalry Corps in the final stage of the Turkish War of Independence.
The National Tank Production Project (Turkish: MİTÜP – Milli Tank Üretimi Projesi) was an initiative developed in the mid-1990s to establish independent and robust infrastructure for the production, development and maintenance of main battle tanks used by the Turkish Armed Forces. The project was initiated with an agreement signed between Otokar and the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries of the Republic of Turkey on 30 March 2007, when the Defense Industries Executive Committee awarded a contract worth approximately $500 million to Otokar for the design, development and production of four prototypes of a national main battle tank. This is Turkey's first MBT development program since 1943, when prototypes of a Turkish national tank were produced in Kırıkkale, but never reached full-scale mass production.
Subsequently, in accordance with the later Defense Industries Executive Committee ruling, subcontractors were selected as follows:
- Technical Support Enabler: Hyundai Rotem
- Fire Control System, Command Control Communication Information System, Laser Warning System, Driver's Vision System, Navigation System, IFF system subcontractor: ASELSAN
- 120 mm 55 caliber Primary Weapon subcontractor: state owned MKEK (Mechanical and Chemical Industries Corporation),
- Armour subcontractor: Roketsan
In order to improve the current technical capabilities of the Turkish defense industries and increase the amount of domestic contribution towards national defense, the Undersecreteriat for Defense Industries decided that a "National Tank" will serve as a catalyst for uniting certain Turkish defense companies around a common goal and for providing the Turkish military with extra firepower in the form of a modern tank.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense allocated a budget of $1 billion for the development of the Altay.
The military electronics company ASELSAN manufactures and integrates the Volkan III modular fire control system, command, control and information systems, while state-owned MKEK (Mechanical and Chemical Industries Corporation) agreed for the production and integration of a modified and licensed produced Rheinmetall 120 mm gun. Another state company Roketsan designs an indigenous armor.
Once the prototypes are produced and tested, the Undersecreteriat for Defense Industries of the Republic of Turkey will prepare and execute a separate order for the first lot of 250 tanks. A total of 1000 MBTs are planned to be produced in four separate lots of 250 units. Every delivered lot is expected to have additional upgrades.
The first 3D image of the MBT was released to the public on 7 April 2010 during a press release by the Undersecreteriat for Defense Industries of the Republic of Turkey.
The first prototype Altay was ready for use by the end of 2016.
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The tank is projected to have a 120 millimetres (4.7 in) smoothbore gun and will include CBRN defense elements, to protect it from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. The planned maximum speed is set at 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph), provided by an 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) engine (the first two batches will have 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) engines), and the MBTs will be able to function under 4.1 metres (13 ft) of water.
The tank will benefit both from indigenously developed systems and from the cannon technology of the South Korean K2 Black Panther, accorded by an agreement signed with South Korea. The first two batches will be powered by the 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) MTU engines whereas the last two batches will be powered by an indigenous 1,800 hp engine. On 16 June 2008, SSM and industry members discussed a possible participation for the development of 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) indigenous power pack for use in the armoured personnel carriers and main battle tanks produced in Turkey.
Altay appears to share strong chassis characteristics with its technological base, the South Korean K2 Black Panther, with a re-designed Turkish turret and Aselsan's Volkan-III modular fire control system. The tank will be fielded with a STANAG 4579 compatible battlefield target identification system that ensures interoperability among small tank units. There are seven wheels, which translates to a longer hull, heavier armor and increased survivability.
While moving at high speeds, to evade ATGM attacks, sudden braking and manoeuvering at severe angles are capabilities that were taken into consideration from early developmental stages. An isolated ammunition compartment is designed to protect tank crew, alongside fire and explosion suppression systems which are to activate when hit or when the tank is involved in an accident. The tank is to be equipped with sensors for the detection of contaminated air from chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
Otokar General Manager Serdar Görgüç has announced that the company is considering the development of an electric engine for the Altay. Görgüç stated that an electric engine would reduce the ability of the enemy to identify the tank with thermal cameras in the field, adding that "Vehicles with internal combustion engines can be caught on thermal cameras". Otokar developed an electric engine for its buses and is working on retrofitting its design to the Altay tank.
On 29 April 2009, the Subsecretary for Defence Industries of Turkey, Murad Bayar has confirmed at the 9th IDEX International, Defense Industry Fair in Abu Dhabi, that the Turkish tank will be manufactured using only Turkish resources. He added that the research started last week and that he expected to create an authentic tank model specially designed for the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces within 3 years.
As of September 2010, with approval of the tank subsystems and software by Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Conceptual Design Phase of the Altay project has been completed. Thus, the project advanced to Detailed Design Phase scheduled to last 30.5 months. The scope of the Detailed Design Phase is to design and integrate interfaces for the selected tank subsystems.
On 15 October 2010, Otokar signed a contract with MTU and Renk for the supply of power pack.
On 15 December 2010, Defence Industry Executive Committee decided to start the development of national power pack.
On 10 May 2011, Aselsan was contracted by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries to design and develop two Battlefield Target Identification Device (BTID) prototypes.
On 18 October 2012, the first Altay was put on trials although lacking side skirts and using a mock-up turret to simulate a real turret.
On 16 November 2012, two Altay prototypes successfully passed initial acceptance tests, paving the way for serial production 2 years earlier than expected, with two more prototypes to be built by 2013 or 2014.
On 7 November 2016, all prototypes had been delivered to the Turkish Land Forces, and their acceptance tests were expected to finish in the last quarter of 2016 or early 2017. Otokar also completed all infrastructure planning and programming for mass production. Koç Holding Vice Chair and Otokar Chair Ali Koç said mass production was expected to start 18–22 months after their offer was accepted.
According to reports, a military envoy from Colombia was present at the 2010 press meeting hosted by the Undersecreteriat for Defense Industries of the Republic of Turkey to obtain more information about the tank.
Additionally, Otokar placed a bid for 77 Altays for a tender in Oman in August 2013. In January 2016, Turkey reported that the Altay had received interest from Pakistan and Gulf Arab countries.
The Altay will compete for the Turkish army contract, estimated at $3.5B for a batch of 250 tanks. Three more similar batches are expected. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have shown interest in procuring the Altay for their armed forces. In late 2016 it was reported that Pakistan plans to acquire the Altay for its armed forces.
- K2 Black Panther
- Turkish Land Forces
- Modern equipment of the Turkish Land Forces
- List of main battle tanks by country
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