By Bilal Khan
Otokar, the Turkish defence vendor in charge of designing, developing, and producing Turkey’s national main battle tank (MBT) program, the Altay, is excited and reportedly ready to push the much awaited tank into mass production (Hurriyet Daily).
Speaking to the Turkish media at the beginning of April, Chairman of the Board at Otokar, Ali Koç, said, “We are ready for the job, with our human resource, from the subcontractor to our workers, experience, abilities and our passion to serve the best for our country.”
No specific dates were given as to when the Altay would enter production, but from Ali Koç’s statements, it seems that time is nearing, and that the company was in the process of ramping up for the Turkish Army’s initial order of 250 tanks.
Turkey began developing the Altay in 2007 under the framework of a comprehensive strategy to source as much of its critical defence equipment in-house. Otokar was selected as the leading vendor to bring the Altay MBT to fruition. In 2008, Otokar approached the South Korean firm Hyundai Rotem, which in turn provided assistance using the expertise developed from its K2 Black Panther MBT.
At 65 tons, the Altay MBT is a heavyweight platform. It is armed with a 120mm smoothbore gun as well as a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a remote controlled turret. A 1500hp German diesel engine powers the tank, though Turkey is aiming to eventually replace it with an indigenous powerplant. In addition to its armour, the Altay is also protected by an active protection suite.
A number of countries have reportedly expressed interest in the Altay, including Pakistan, which is in the process of evaluating a number of tanks under the “Haider” program. The Haider MBT is being envisaged to supplement the al-Khalid MBT line in replacing the Pakistan Army’s legacy tanks. It is not known if the Army’s interest in the Altay is under the framework of Haider, or another area entirely. In addition to the prospect of having heavy MBTs, the Army may also be motivated by the idea of securing Turkey’s active protection technology for use on its own mainstay tanks.
Thank you Umit for the tip!