Altay is an advanced third generation main battle tank, designed and developed by Otokar of Turkey for the Turkish Army and export markets. It is named in honor of Army General Fahrettin Altay (1880–1974) who commanded the 5th Cavalry Corps in the final stage of the Turkish War of Independence.
National Tank Production Project (Turkish: MİTÜP - Milli Tank Üretimi Projesi), an initiative developed in mid-1990's to establish independent and robust infrastructure for the production, development and maintenance of main battle tanks used by Turkish Armed Forces. The project was initiated with an agreement signed between Otokar and 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 4 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.
Otokar, a company owned by Istanbul-based Koç Holding, is one of the major automotive manufacturers in Turkey. Otokar has produced more than 25,000 military vehicles as of 2008.
Subsequently, in accordance with the later Defense Industries Executive Committee ruling, subcontractors were selected as follows:
- Technical Support Enabler, 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 an excellent 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 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.
First 3D picture of Turkey’s new main battle tank, Altay, was released to public on 7 April 2010 during a press release by SSM. According to reports, a military envoy from Colombia was also present at the press meeting to obtain more information about the tank.
The tank is projected to have a 120 mm smoothbore gun and will be protected against chemical, biological and radioactive attacks. The planned maximum speed is set at 94 km/h, thanks to a 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) engine (the first two batches will have 1,500 hp engines), and the MBTs will be able to function under 4.1 meters of water.
The tank will benefit both from indigenously developed systems and from the armor technology of the South Korean K2 Black Panther, thanks to the agreement signed with South Korea. The candidates for the engine are German MTU Friedrichshafen and the new South Korean engine which is currently under development. 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 brakings and manevuring at severe angles are the capabilities that were taken into consideration from the early stages of development. Isolated ammunition compartment is designed to save tank crew from explosions alongside fire and explosion suppression systems which will activate in case of hit or accident. The tank is equipped with sensors for the detection of air contamination sourced from chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
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 battle field. He added that “Vehicles with internal combustion 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 head of the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, 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 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, two more prototypes will be built by 2013 or 2014.
The Altay completed testing from 3 July to 10 July 2013, meeting specified requirements. As a result, the Altay is ready for mass production.
References and notes
- Otokar'in milli tanki, milli cosku yaratti, Ruhi Sanyer, Radikal, 16 October 2010
- Army-technology.com: Altay Main Battle Tank, Turkey
- Otokar Altay MBT (Turkey), Jane's Armour and Artillery, 17 Mart 2010
- Tolga Anıker, "Milli tank 'altay' için yola çıkıldı", Radikal, 30 July 2008. (Turkish)
- Altay Project, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries
- (Turkish) Iste ilk Türk tankı Altay'ın özellikleri by Bülent Aydemir, 28 July 2008
- "‘ATAK helicopter to be airborne before end of 2009’". Todayszaman.com. http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=168240&bolum=105. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
- Turkish MBT Project, TurkishPress, 17 July 2006
- Otokar unveils the Altay MBT, TRDefence, 7 April 2010
- Saudi Arabia could be interested to buy the future Turkish main battle tank Altay - Armyrecognition.com, April 28, 2013
- Azerbaijan shows interest for Turkish armored vehicles - Armyrecognition.com, May 17, 2013
- "Türk Kara Savunma Sektörünün Ulaştığı Nokta ve Hedefler" (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 20 May 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080520235735/http://www.ssm.gov.tr/TR/duyurular/basinaciklamalari/Pages/KARAARA%C3%87LARIEND%C3%9CSTR%C4%B0G%C3%9CN%C3%9CVEG%C3%9C%C3%87S%C4%B0STEMLER%C4%B0%C3%87ALI%C5%9ETAYI%2816-17Haziran2008%29.aspx.
- Börteçin Ege (Turkish) Altay Ana Muharebe Tankı, February 2013, Bilim ve Teknik.
- Otokar Newsletter, September 2010
- Defence Industry Executive Committee press release, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, 15 December 2010
- Battlefield Identification Device Project, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, 25 August 2011
- IDEF 2011 Altay mock-up
- Turkey completes testing of domestic Altay tank - Dunyatimes.com, 22 July 2013
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