Staff Writer (Updated: 2/13/2015):
The Turkish government commissioned the Turkish National Main Battle Tank Project as early as 2005. After initial agreements were signed in 2007, design work on the Altay began in 2008 (under the project name of "Milli Tank Uretim Projesi ALTAY" or "MITUP ALTAY") and has since involved the Turkish concerns of Otokar, Aselsan and Roketsan as well as technical assistance and support from the South Korean firm of Hyundai ROTEM (developers of the K1 and K2 series Main Battle Tanks for the South Korean Army). As such, the Altay shares some visual similarities with the South Korean tank designs and will be very modern though distinct in its overall form. The one exception in design appears to be the turret which will be mostly indigenous in its origin to better fulfill Turkish Army requirements. Otokar will be the primary defense contractor while Roketsan will handle the armor development. Makine ve Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu (MKE) will be charged with development of the main gun and applicable systems. Further development will include various subcontractors which have not been named as of this writing. A mock-up of the Altay was first unveiled to observers during the International DEfense Industry Fair (IDEF) presentation in mid-2011 with an initial prototype expected to be made ready by 2015 with a total of four prototypes delivered by Otokar in whole.
Outwardly, the Altay will showcase a most modern appearance with sharp clean lines throughout. The turret will be of low profile design as will the hull. The hull sides will be protected by skirt armor along the upper track regions. There will be seven double-tired road wheels to a track side (as opposed to the six featured on the South Korean K2) with the drive sprocket at rear and the track idler at the front. The glacis plate will be exceedingly shallow, nearly horizontal in its presentation while the hull roof will be decidedly flat. The engine will reside in a rear-set compartment. The turret will feature some overhang over the engine cover to promote increased internal storage for ammunition and key systems. Compared with the South Korean K2, the Altay will sport a longer hull and more armor, hence the need for a seventh road wheel on the track assembly.