The FNSS "ZAHA" Marine Assault Vehicle ("MAV") has been specifically developed to a standing Turkish Navy requirement for a ship-launched, amphibious-minded, battlefield solution intended for the all-important beach-landing phase of an amphibious assault. The type is instrumental in bringing to shore manpower and needed supplies to establish beachheads and take the fight to the enemy further inland. The amphibious assault is one of the most dangerous, but potentially rewarding, of all the military operations available to warplanners today and specialized tactics and vehicles normally make up the process of "bringing the fight to the enemy".
The ZAHA was first unveiled at IDEF 2019.
Vehicles such as the ZAHA can push the fight closer to enemy positions, carrying combat-ready personnel and being outfitted with capable armament and defensive measures for operation in contested zones. They are typically launched from offshore vessels like Landing Helicopter Pads (LHDs) and, from there, the vehicles make a beeline for the shore at-speed while avoiding enemy fire. The comparable assault vehicle of the West is the American AAVP-7A1 tracked amphibious carrier.
Internally, there is an operating crew of three that includes a driver, vehicle commander, and dedicated gunner and each position is afforded workstations with access hatches overhead. A further four hatches are placed over the aft end of the hull roof for use by occupants at the rear. A hinged access door is fitted to the rear hull wall for more traditional access. The driver is seated at front-left in the aluminum-constructed hull with the vehicle commander directly aft while the powerpack sits to their right and the gunner mans his station aft of the engine compartment. Situational awareness is enhanced by way of an onboard camera system as well as thick vision blocks. Beyond basic ballistics protection offered by the armor, the MAV relies on accompanying armored vehicles during an offensive push and can generate its own smoke screen through onboard smoke grenade dischargers and a smoke generating system for survival. Protection for both crew and occupants is against small arms, artillery spray, and certain land mines / Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The powertrain is made up of a diesel-fueled engine and this is used to drive a double-tired, six-roadwheel arrangement surrounded by a traditional track-link. The tracks run from the front-mounted drive sprocket to the rear mounted track idler. No track return rollers are used. Maximum road speeds can reach 70 kmh, allowing the MAV to keep pace with a modern mechanized fighting force.
As the vehicle is fully amphibious, it is hydrodynamically sealed and further coated in an anti-corrosion Cathodic Protection process. Prior to water entry, there is slight preparation required of the vehicle by the crew. A hydraulic trim vane is fitted at the bow of the hull and propulsion through water sources is by way of water jets at the lower rear corners of the hull. Once prepared, the vehicle can achieve a maximum speed in water of about 7 knots.
Standard armament is a single Remote Weapon Station (RWS) seated atop the hull roof line (offset to starboard from centerline) behind the gunner's hatch. This mounting showcases a 12.7mm air-cooled Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) and 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL), giving the vehicle a basic ranged capability to defeat enemy light armor, suppress/dislodge enemy infantry positions, and engage low-flying aerial threats such as helicopters.
Beyond the basic personnel carrier form is marketed a Command Post (CP) version with additional communications equipment and reduced troop-carrying role and an Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) variant with applicable battlefield equipment for the role.
The Turkish Navy is initially set to receive a total of 27 ZAHA of which 23 will be made up of troop carriers, 2 will be of the CP standard, and 2 will be reserved for the ARV role.