Turkey’s new-generation MBT is almost at the end of its detailed design phase, with manufacturer Otokar awaiting approval of the final design.
The company has now completed the critical design review (CDR) of the Altay MBT and hopes to begin the prototype development and qualification phase shortly.
Speaking at the IDEF exhibition in Istanbul, where the Altay was the centrepiece of Otokar’s stand, a spokesman told Shephard that the company is waiting for the Defence Industries Undersecretariat (SSM) to approve the critical design before formally moving into the next phase of development.
Alongside its development of the vehicle, the company is already eyeing prospective export opportunities for what is the only new MBT programme among NATO member countries.
The spokesman said Otokar had purposely avoided involving a foreign partner on the project, so that it can freely offer the MBT to customers in the Middle East and Asia without having to seek outside approval.
Aselsan is developing the MBT’s fire control system and C3 information system; MKEK the 120mm L55 smoothbore main gun; and Roketsan the modular armour package. In addition, MTU Turkey has provided its MTU MT 883 diesel engine for the Altay prototypes.
‘We are currently looking at the Middle East and as there are no export-licencing problems, we think [the Altay] is going to be attractive to them. They also get the advantage of the new-generation design,’ the spokesman said.
He noted that the vehicle had been designed to be easily reconfigured between high intensity warfare and operations other than war, while the open nature of the vehicle’s electronic architecture allowed for easier integration of new systems.
Otokar was selected as the prime contractor to design and qualify the Altay in 2008. It has already developed two preliminary prototypes – a Mobile Test Rig (MTR) and a Firing Test Rig (FTR) – both of which underwent a series of tests at the end of last year. The vehicle on display at IDEF featured the FTR’s chassis and a representative turret.
The MTR has now done 3600km of testing across a variety of surfaces, including terrain, tarmac and secondary roads.
Once the SSM approves the vehicle’s detailed design, the company will move into the qualification phase during which it will produce a further four prototypes.
According to the company spokesman, negotiations for a production contract will then begin in a year’s time and are expected to take some 12 months to conclude.
Turkish Land Forces Command has an initial requirement for 250 MBTs with a stated total requirement of more than 1,000 to be produced in later batches.