Otokar Altay Main Battle Tank (MBT)
Some 1,000 Altay Main Battle Tanks are slated for procurement by the modernizing Turkish Army.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
As one of the latest generation of Main Battle Tanks (MBT) currently in development, the new "Altay" tank is set to become one of the world's most advanced combat platforms of its type while at the same time becoming a symbol of national pride as the first MBT design initiative in thFe Turkish history to achieve quantitative production. The Altay is expected to see formal introduction into operational service in 2015-2016 assuming it successfully passes testing and extensive evaluations of its various automotive and technological systems. The Turkish government plans to procure some 250 initial vehicles in early batch purchasing with the lofty eventual goal of 1,000 stated. The triumph of the Altay MBT program will be in producing a largely indigenous Main Battle Tank offering that can compete with the modern systems of the world - Turkey does maintain one of the largest and most powerful militaries in the world today, ahead of even some perennial European powers. Production is set to ensue out of the 1st Army Maintenance Center Command facility with each Altay system costing approximately $5.5 million USD. At project's end, the Altay should compare favorably with other well-known combat tank systems including the latest incarnations of the M1 Abrams, Merkava, Challenger II and Leopard 2.
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.
As with most modern MBTs of this class, the Altay will field a 120mm smoothbore main gun in a 360-degree powered traversing turret allowing for unfettered engagement of targets from any angle. The main gun will be digitally stabilized for "firing on the move" and the Aselsan/STM Volkan-III modular fire control system will be computer-assisted. A fume extractor will be set along the main gun near the mantlet area and the gun will sport a thermal sleeve. A 7.62mm coaxial machine gun will be fitted next to the main gun while a 12.7mm heavy machine gun is intended to counter threats from light armored vehicles and low flying aircraft. Additional armament may also include the STAMP/II series remote controlled turret being developed by Aselsan. Smoke grenade dischargers will be featured in twin banks of four along the turret sides (for a total of 16 x smoke grenades).
The crew will be conventional in duty and layout, consisting of a driver in the front right hull and the tank commander, gunner and loader in the turret. The commander and gunner will reside in the right side of the turret with the loader to the left, the commander behind and slightly above the gunner's position. The hull will be suspended by a torsion bar suspension system. Overall, the vehicle will sport an operational weight of 66 tons, in line with other MBTs of the world. There will be standard MBT fixtures in the design of the Altay including an integrated NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) system as well as stabilized laser range finders, night vision and thermal imaging.
The selected powerplant of the Altay series will vary between the two initial and two latter production batches. The first 500 tanks will be completed with an MTU-brand multi-fuel diesel engine of 1,500 horsepower whilst the final 500 series examples will be given an indigenous multi-fuel diesel engine of 1,800 horsepower. Top speed is estimated to be 43 miles per hour on ideal surfaces.
It is not out of the scope of the Altay project that the chassis will serve as the basis for a family of armored vehicles including trainer versions, command vehicles, armored recovery vehicles and the like. Some sources suggest that the Altay may also be offered up for foreign export orders in the future - Columbia and Pakistan having been mentioned as possible suitors. All told, the Altay will be completed to NATO-standards so former Soviet/Russian customers will see a learning and logistics curve of sorts
Incidentally, the Altay name comes from Turkish Army General Fahrettin Altay who commanded with distinction during the Turkish War of Independence (1919 - 1923). The name Altay itself comes from the Altai Mountains (note spelling) of Central Asia, the accepted ancestral homeland of the Turkish peoples. Translation of "Altay" becomes "Red pony" in reference to the mounts of their early warriors.