Altay National Main Battle Tank - 2008 Program - Otokar
Studies for a modern battle tank to serve the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) began at the end of the 1990s. The first stage focused on the production of foreign tanks in Turkey with local partners and searches in that direction continued until 2004. In May 2004, however, the Defense Industry Executive Committee changed directions and decided to create new supply models based on domestic production and original design.
The Undersecretariat for the Defence Industries of Turkey (SSM) contracted Otokar with the designing, development, integration, prototype production, testing, and qualification of first National Main Battle Tank of Turkey on July 29, 2008. Afterwards, Project Implementation Schedule came into force on January 15, 2009. In Altay Project, South Korean Company Hyundai Rotem was chosen as technical support and assistance provider. Furthermore, within the scope of ALTAY Project, ASELSAN, ROKETSAN and MKEK are responsible for accomplishing Tank Fire Control System, C3I System, Armor System and Main Gun, respectively.
Signed on 29 July 2008 between the SSM and Main Contractor Otokar, the Turkish National Main Battle Tank [ALTAY] Program contract became effective on 15 January 2009. Valued at around US$494 Million, the contract covers the works to be carried out under the first phase of the program and consists of three stages; concept design, detail design, prototyping and qualification. Under the contract Otokar in coopertion with ADD/Rotem of South Korea and its local subcontractors; Aselsan, MKEK and Roketsan would design, develop, produce, tests and qualify four 3rd+ generation ALTAY MBT prototypes in about 7 years [78.5 months] through the use of existing local capabilities to the maximum extent. If the prototypes pass testing successfully, then a further 250 MBTs would be manufactured in the Series Production Phase, which would be based on a separate tender.
Main Contractor Otokar unveiled a Full Scale Mockup of the ALTAY MBT at its stand during IDEF11. The first phase of the program consists of three stages: Conceptual Design, Detailed Design and Prototyping and Qualification, and covers the design, development,manufacture and testing of four prototype vehicles (Mobility Test Rig, Fire Power TestRig, Prototype Vehicle 1 [PV 1 for survivability tests], Prototype Vehicle 2 [PV 2 for Tank Fire Control System firing tests]) as well as 1 Full Scale Dummy. Over a period of about 7 years (78.5 months, ending in 2015), existing local capabilities are to be used to the maximum extent.
If the prototypes passed testing successfully, then a further 250 ALTAY MBTs would be manufactured in the second phase of the program, the Series Production Phase, which would be based on a separate tender. According to the schedule, detailed tests were to be launched within 48 months (November 2012) following effectivity, and the qualification tests, to be carried out under the SSM's control, should launched after month 68. Works under the Detailed Design Phase were scheduled to be completed in 2012. Under the Detailed Design Phase, Otokar would complete the production of the Mobility Test Rig and FirePower Test Rig vehicles for extensive mobility and firing trials. The Mobility Test Rig was expected to be completed in the second half of 2012. The first prototype vehicle (Prototype Vehicle 1) to be used in Qualification and Acceptance Tests was to be unveiled in 2013.
Otokar planned to complete all of thequalification tests with the prototype tanks by 2015, when the Serial Production Phase contract is expected to be awarded. Prototype MBTs would be powered by EuroPowerpacks. The ALTAY MBTs to be produced under the Series Production Phase were expected to be equipped with an indigenous power pack (with 1,500-1,800hp diesel engine coupled with an automatic transmission).
In early 2012, Serdar Gorguc, Otokar's General Manager, said: ALTAY, Turkey's first national main battle tank, has been developed since 2009 with the leadership of Otokar, assigned by the Undersecretary of Defence Industries. The first phase of the project, 'Conceptual Design Process', has been completed in 2010. And we presented the full-scale model, which reflects the concept design of ALTAY, at IDEF Exhibition, last year. In scope of the 'Detailed Design Process' which is the second and the most critical phase of the project, 'Preliminary Design Phase', has been successfully completed by the last quarter of 2011. During this phase, manufacturing of prototypes took start in line with this process. Following the completion of the Second Phase, we're planning to start the 'Prototype Development and Qualification Phase' which is the third and the last phase. In scope of the project plan we continue investing in the first prototype of the ALTAY tank which would be ready for testing by the last quarter of this year. In addition to our existing facilities within Otokar plant, we have recently established a new Tank Test Center with an investment of USD 10 million. Our Test Center is among the world's most modern and advanced test centers."
By 2013 Otokar was producing prototypes of the Altay in a deal to sell four 250-unit batches to the Turkish military. The four prototypes would undergo performance tests throughout 2013. The Turkish Army has 720 German-made Leopard 1 and 2 tanks, 930 American M-60s and 1,370 M-48s, most of which are Cold War-era tanks and need replacement. Turkey hoped to cut a future deal with Saudi Arabia for the Altay. The Saudis have 320 elderly French AMX-30 tanks in need of replacement.
BMC was not the original firm involved in the Altay tank project, which was developed by Otokar, a subsidiary of Koç Holding, one of Turkey’s largest industrial groups. After Erdogan gave the project the green light in 2007, Otokar spent nine years on research and development of the tank, enlisting around 100 domestic and international companies in the process before producing the first prototypes of the Altay, which were displayed at a defence fair in 2016.
Before the contract effectivity two important drawbacks should be solved. The first one is the approval of the export license by the German Government for the export of the EuroPowerpacks for the ALTAY T1 MBTs to Turkey. The second one is the selection of the facility where the Serial Production would take place. Depending on the result of the privatization process of the 1st Main Maintenance Factory Directorate, either the facilities at Arifiye or the facilities at Karasu would be selected for the execution of the Serial Production activities.
Serial Production would take place at the 1st Main Maintenance Factory Directorate in Arifiye, Adapazari. Since BMC has committed to manufacture 6 ALTAY MBTs per month during the Serial Production Phase, modern benches to enable the company to achieve this production rate would be required. For this purpose, BMC would invest up to US$ 50 Million in the 1st Main Maintenance Factory Directorate to upgrade its manufacturing infrastructure with the installation of new generation benches at the facility. The EuroPowerpack incorporates V-12 type MTU MT883 Ka-501CR diesel engine (27,35 liters, dry weight is 1,800kg) coupled to RENK’s HSWL 295TM automatic transmission (with 5 forward and 3 reverse gears, dry weight is 2,450kg) and a cooling and air filtration system. The EuroPowerpack is installed in a ‘U’ configuration in the ALTAY MBT.
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