In 2015, the Turkish Army expects to field its first indigenous Main Battle Tank (MBT) through the "Altay" series. This will officially break the nation of its reliance on foreign goods concerning combat tanks which have largely been of European and US origin dating back to the Cold War years. Add to this the first Turkish UAV entering production as the "Anka" by Turkish Aerospace Industries and the stage is set for a completely self-sufficient Turkish military industrial complex to come. With that said, Turkish engineers have been developing an indigenous Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) to support the actions of the Altay line, capable of transporting combat-ready infantry to hotspots, disembarking them under protection and bringing the fight to the enemy through fire support by way of an autocannon, machine gun and anti-tank missiles. The vehicle has been named "Tulpar" with design work having been started in 2011 and manufacture being handled by Otokar. To date (2013), two vehicles have been completed. Otokar also has its hand in the development and production of the upcoming Altay which is expected to enter service in 2015.
The Tulpar is designed with a well-accepted IFV configuration featuring a shallow profile, near-horizontal glacis plate and center-mounted powered turret. The powerpack is seated to the right side of the hull which placed the driver at the front left. The turret is centered on the hull roof ahead and over the passenger compartment. The standard operating crew is three to include the driver, commander and gunner. The latter two are situated in the turret. The passenger cabin can seat nine combat-ready infantry with access by way of a hinged rectangular door at the rear of the hull. Extended rear fenders protect both sides of the door. Seating for infantry is through nine fold-down units, five along the left-side wall and nine along the right side wall. The driver's position is fully accessible from the passenger cabin as are the commander and gunner's positions. Armor protection is of composite armor. Design thought has been given to modern threats including rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as well as anti-tank/land mines. An NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) system is standard as is night vision equipment for the crew.
The running gear consists of seven rubber-tired road wheels to a track side. The drive sprocket is at front with the track idler at rear. Power is served through a Swedish Scania DSI 14 (or 16) series V8 diesel-fueled, liquid-cooled engine developing upwards of 810 horsepower. Road speeds reach 70 kmh with an operational range out to 600 kilometers. The engine is mated to a SAPA SG-850 series automatic transmission system. A torsion bar suspension provides the needed cross-country travel. The vehicle weighs 32 tons and features a running length of 7.2 meters, a width of 3.4 meters and a height to turret top of 2.7 meters.
Designed as an armored combat vehicle, the Tulpar is appropriately armed as IFVs go. This includes a main armament of a 30mm Oerlikon duel-feed autocannon at the MIZRAK turret. A 7.62mm coaxial machine is also fitted. The finalized Tulpar will reportedly field the capability to launch the Umtas series anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) , something of a requisite concerning IFVs these days. Smoke grenade dischargers are featured along the rear turret sides in two banks of four grenades each. These serve the vehicle by promoting a self-actuated smoke screen to cover offensive maneuvers or defensive retreats.
The Tulpar was first debuted for public consumption at IDEF 2013 Istanbul. The Tulpar is expected to be offered up for export sale. While not formally requested by the Turkish Army at the outset of the project, the Army will request 400 of the vehicles to field alongside its new MBT. As it stands, Azerbaijan is the only serious contender to become the first export customer of the new Tulpar IFV though a deal is far from certain at this point.
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