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Turkish Altay Tank
Turkey

Altay Main Battle Tank

Turkish Altay Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
2012
Turkish Altay Tank
Status
Prototype
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Table of Contents

Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

Introduction

The Altay Tank is a Turkish 3rd Generation Main Battle Tank that has been in development since 2007, with the first test rigs delivered in 2012. Though described as "indigenous" the vehicle initially relied heavily on foreign assistance and components from other countries.

Initial development of the vehicle was run by Turkish Defence Contractor Otkar. However, in 2018 the state switched development to BMC. Since then, BMC has been sourcing and developing indigenous components to replace those imported and re-branded the vehicle the "New Altay" in 2023. Testing of these new components has pushed the scheduled production date back to 2025. Qatar has placed an order of 100 vehicles to complement their Leopard 2A7 tank fleet.

Background

Since joining the NATO Alliance in 1952, Turkey has relied on surplus tanks from the USA (M41 Walker Bulldog, M47, M48, M60A1 and M60A3 Patton’s) and Germany (M48 Patton, Leopard 1 and Leopard 2).

Since the 2000’s Turkey has been developing a growing defence industry capability that has calibrated with other nations to upgrade its military vehicles and tanks. This has also resulted in a heavy reliance on importing foreign components and equipment.

In March 2007, the Turkish Ministry of Defence appointed Turkish Defence Contractor Otkar as the principal contractor on the Altay project, with a contract worth $500 million for initial development and prototype production in 2008.

The Turkish MoD had an ambitious development period, which expected 250 tanks to start production in 2016.

In South Korea, Hyundai Rotem was developing the new K2 Black Panther Main Battle Tank, with a scheduled service entry date of 2011. The K2 featured advanced digital systems, modular and ERA armour, Active Protection Systems, a calibre Length 55 main gun and excellent mobility characteristics. In 2008 Hyundai Rotem signed an agreement with Turkey to share K2 technologies and assist with develop the Altay.

Two autonomous test rigs were delivered for mobility and firepower testing in 2012. These vehicles gave the overall look and shape of the vehicles design but lacked the detail from missing systems.

Following the results of the ATR tests and requirements of the Land Forces, two prototypes were manufactured for extensive army trials in 2015.

Whilst the Altay has been developed to produce an indigenous main battle tank in an attempt to move away from the reliance of foreign tanks, it was not known that the tank relied so heavily on components from other countries, namely Germany.

In 2016, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield, a cross board operation into Northern Syria to fight ISIS and achieve other regional political objectives. By March 2017, Turkey confirmed it had met its objectives with the invasion.

Germany had initially supported Turkeys intervention in Syria, but later condoned alleged treatment of Syrian Kurd’s and even put a holt on supporting the upgrade of Turkish Leopard 2A4 tanks using German components.

The Altay was due to use a German 1500hp MTU diesel engine and German Renk transmission as well as German ammunition storage systems, sighting optics, pumps and other ancillary equipment.

It was clear that by 2016, that the Altay was not going to enter production later that year. The design of the vehicle is not owned by any private defence contractor, but rather owned by the state, which affords them the ability to switch manufacturers, which they did in 2018 when BMC was made principal contractor for the project.

Between 2018 and 2023, BMC has worked to source indigenous replacement components of those originally expected to be supplied by Germany, including an engine and transmission. This has not been fully successful and instead has sourced the same engine and transmission manufactured in South Korea and used in the K2 Black Panther.

As of April 2023, BMC have manufactured five Altay with the South Korean powerpack (engine and transmission) and other indigenous replacement components as well as re-branded the tank the “New Altay”.

Two of these tanks have been delivered to the Land Forces for extensive testing of the new powerpack and other components, which is expected to take up to two years.

The forecasted manufacturing date with BMC has now been pushed back to 2025. It’s still expected that 1000 tanks will eventually be built in four separate batches, each receiving separate upgrades and technology updates, such as an indigenous powerpack.

Firepower

The Altay uses a 120mm, calibre Length 55 smoothbore main gun designated the MKE 120mm. It was developed and manufactured by the Turkish Company Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation. It is a modified, licence-built version of the South Korean CN08 120mm, as used on the K2 Black Panther.

The Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation also state they manufacturer unspecified 120mm tank ammunition for the MKE 120mm. It is also capable of firing ammunition for the CN08 120mm and other NATO countries 120mm smoothbore ammunition as well as breach loaded ATGM.

The vehicle is fitted with Turkish company ASELSAN’s Volkan II Fire Control System, which is used as part of the scheduled TİYK-LEOP2A4 Project and M60TM upgrade.

It features the latest in computer technology allowing it to track targets, thermal sighting technology, stabilised optics and electrical turret drive with main gun stabilisation for both firing on the move and high first hit probability.

The Altay is a 3rd generation main battle tank as it features an independent commander’s sight, allowing the commander to detect targets independently from the gunner’s sight whilst he is using it to engage the enemy, which is commonly referred to as a “Hunter Killer Capability”.

In addition to the coaxial machine gun, the vehicle features ASELSAN’S SARP Remote Weapon Station as an alternative to a cupola mounted machine gun. Capable of being fitted with either a 7.62mm or 50cal machine gun, it can also operate a 40mm grenade launcher. The RWS is operated by the crew from inside the safety of the vehicle.

Protection

Whilst the vehicle is manufactured out of RHA steel, the Altay’s armoured protection has been developed by Turkish Firm Roketsan.

The armour configuration has visibly changed several times over the years and been influenced by the losses of M60T and Leopard 2A4 in Operation Euphrates Shield.

Initially, the Altay was fitted with composite armour over its frontal arc and later small ERA tiles mounted along the hull sides. The turrets sides feature toolboxes (like the French Leclerc) which have changed shape several times too, generating speculation as to how thick the composite armour (if any) is.

The front of the turret has also changed. The “New Altay” features toolboxes along the sides and left front, with active protection system sensors mounted in boxes on the front corners. The rear of the turret has bar armour that extends partially along the turret sides. New, deep modules have appeared along the hull sides and ends at the start of the engine compartment. The rear of the hull has bar armour, which extends around the engine compartment.

The vehicle also benefits from both soft and hard kill Active Protection Systems. The LİAS-100 soft kill system is a laser designation detector and warning system, which alerts the crew if a laser range finder is being pointed at the vehicle and the hard kill AKKOR system, which detects incoming anti-tank missiles and launches a projectile to defeat them.

Other safety features include NBC protection, fire suppression system, internal spald liners mounted inside the turret and armoured bulkheads for the ammunition stowage with blow out panels. Finally, a Battlefield Recognition and Identification System has also been installed and is most likely integrated into the battlefield management system to mark out allied vehicles on the battlefield and prevent “blue on blue” (friendly fire) incidents.

Mobility

Through out the Altay’s development, it has been the intention to use a 15oohp diesel engine and automatic transmission. The originally planned German MTU engine and Renk transmission has been replaced with the automatic EST15K transmission and 1500hp DV27K diesel engine, both sourced and supplied from South Korea.

The Altay also features hydromantic suspension, which better absorbs rough terrain, allowing the vehicle to travel faster when off-road as well as provide a more stable platform when firing on the move, with the bonus of improving the crews comfort levels.

Variants and Marks

Altay AHT “urban operations tank”

At IDEF 2017, Otkar unveiled the Altay AHT. This variant was developed for fighting in urban and asymmetrical environments. It’s development was a direct result of Leopard 2A4 and M60T tank losses in the 2016 Operation Euphrates Shield.

It features a new ERA armour package, IED jammers, dozer blade for clearing barricades and the addition of the Telescopic Elevated Observation System for greater situational awareness.

Support Vehicles

BMC have released digital drawings of a recovery variant and combat engineer vehicle with a mine plough.

Leopard 2 Hybrid

In 2021 BMC displayed an Altay turret married to an up-armoured Leopard 2A4 tank hull. The current Leopard 2A4 upgrade programs will not initially implemented across the whole fleet. This hybrid could be a cost affective alternative to either upgrading Leopard 2 or building new Altay hulls and relying on imported power packs.

TİYK-LEOP2A4 Project

This confirmed upcoming upgrade for a large number of Turkeys Leopard 2A4 tanks will be using some of the same technology used in the Altay, such as battlefield management systems so that both tanks can seamlessly work together on the battlefield.

Operators

Qatar

Qatar has placed an order of 100 vehicles to complement their Leopard 2A7 tank fleet.

Turkey

The Land Forces have a requirement for at least 1000 vehicles. It’s expected that BMC will manufacturer the Altay in four batches of 250 vehicles. Other specialist support and engineering vehicles are in development using the Altay hull and chassis. Production is expected to start in 2025.

Specifications

characteristic
Result
Main Gun
MKE 120mm calibre Length 55 smoothbore
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, Remote Weapons Station with MG
Ammunition Storage
?
Engine
1500hp DV27K diesel engine
Transmission
5 Forward, 3 Reverse automatic EST15K transmission
Top Road Speed
65km/h
Road Range
?
Fuel Capacity
?
Vertical Obstacle
?
Water Capability
1.2m (4m with preperation)
Trench Crossing
?
Gradient
60%
Side Slope
30%
Length Gun Forward
?
Length Hull
?
Width
?
Height
?
Ground Clearance
?
Weight
?
NBC Protected
yes
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Composite, Bar, Modular
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA)
Active Protection Systems
hard_kill
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver