The Turkish Altay tank will finally reach the army this year: a clear example of how long it takes to create your own tank

The Turkish project to create its own tank was planned back in the 90s as a national program with an understanding of all the complexities and costs, as well as the fact that it would become a catalyst for the efforts of the entire defense industry.

The first public concept of the car was published only in 2010. In 2012 the first prototype was assembled. And only in May 2023, the first two Altay tanks be handed over to the Turkish Armed Forces for testing, which will last until 2025, after which their mass production should begin. The President of Turkey announced this, Recep Erdogan, reported to the Turkish news agency Anadolu.

This statement was made during the handover of a batch of six Fırtına self-propelled guns of the new generation, which received a new guidance and ammunition supply system. We will immediately add that the Turkish armed forces will receive 140 new self-propelled guns.

But, returning to the Altay, we note that this tank fully demonstrates the difficulty of creating one’s own weapons of this level. The development of the tank required the Turkish industry to master the production of tank armor, 120-mm guns with a barrel length of 55 calibers, chassis, a fire control system, as well as all other systems and subsystems of the machine.

And it should be noted right away that Turkey did not work in complete isolation but relied on the help of foreign companies. In particular, a significant part of the work was, as a result, performed in cooperation with Korean companies. 

For example, the technology for manufacturing guns and designing armor protection was obtained from the Korean Hyundai, which also participated in the overall planning and Samyang Comtech.

And the main problem was the engine, which should be designed for a 65-ton machine. Initially, it was planned to take the German 1,500-horsepower MTU with RENK transmission, which would allow us to talk about a certain unification with the Leopard 2 in service. But these engines were embargoed due to Berlin’s position on the war in Syria. 

By the way, a similar fate befell cooperation with France, which was related to reservations, and the Korean gun actually replaced the Rheinmetall Rh 120L/55, which will be manufactured at MKEK. By the way, there is no charging machine on the Altay, and the crew consists of four people.

As a result, they tried to make a bet on the national manufacturer BMC, and at the same time, negotiations were held regarding the Ukrainian engines of the 6TD series. 

But as a result, the choice was made in favor of the Hyundai Rotem. In October 2022, it was decided that the 1,500-horsepower Hyundai Doosan Infracore DV27K and the SNT Dynamics EST15K transmission would be installed on the first batches. In the future, plans to localize the production of this engine at the BMC facilities.

Thus, all Altay components can be considered design. Armament – a licensed version of the 120 mm CN08 gun of the K2 Black Panther tank, the same power plant, booking – Roketsan and Havelsan, fire control system Volkan III, active protection system, information system, communication, and other systems – Aselsan, all others systems – Otokar, which BMC later replaced, and more than 200 contractors in total.

The general plans for the car’s release are up to 1,000 units, which will be divided into four packages of 250 units, allowing for additional changes to be made in each of them and increasing the share of localization. 

That is, we are talking about a multi-year program. As for the cost of the machine, already at the level of 2016, the price of 13.75 million dollars for one machine appeared, which, as of the start of mass production in 2025, can only increase.

But in this case, the mastery of technologies and competencies and the ability to independently cover its need for tanks are more important for Turkey than money.


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