TechTurkey begins production of Altay main battle tank amidst challenges

Turkey begins production of Altay main battle tank amidst challenges

Turkish main battle tank Altay
Turkish main battle tank Altay
Images source: © BMC

5:22 PM EDT, May 31, 2024

After a long period of development and numerous challenges, Turkey has launched the production of its own Altay main battle tank. Despite the need for cooperation with foreign partners, commencing production is an important success for the Turkish defense sector. What do we know about the new tank?

The Altay is a Turkish main battle tank, classified as a fourth-generation machine. The T1 variant has entered production. This vehicle weighs about 143,000 pounds, is armed with a 4.7-inch MKE 120mm tank gun (the Turkish variant of the Korean CN08), and is protected by modular special armor made in Turkey, developed based on the Korean Special Armor Plate (KSAP).

Protection against shaped charges is enhanced by Turkish reactive armor. The fire control system and ASOP (Aselsan AKKOR active defense system), which combines soft-kill (disrupting guidance) and hard-kill (physically destroying incoming missiles) capabilities with jamming and electronic warfare elements, are also products of the Turkish industry.

From the perspective of the Turkish industry, the Achilles' heel of the new tank—and the reason for delays in starting its production—remains the engine and transmission, which currently come from South Korea. Ultimately, subsequent production batches of the Altay tank are expected to feature a Turkish engine.

The new tank will free Turkey from imports while also providing an alternative to Russian and Western designs for political reasons.

Turkey as a model for defense sector development

The commencement of serial production of the new tank is undoubtedly a great success for Turkey. Although the development of the tank, initiated in 2005, was prolonged and issues related to the drive system significantly delayed its introduction to production, the program eventually reached a successful conclusion.

In this context, it is worth noting that for decades, Turkey was primarily a client of Eastern and Western arms companies. Consistent efforts to strengthen its own industry, reinforced by constant threats (a regional rival, despite joint participation in NATO, remains unchanged: Greece) and experiences from conflicts with Kurds and Daesh, have led to Turkey's growing independence.

Currently, the country independently produces, among other things, combat drones (Bayraktar), self-propelled artillery (T-155 Fırtına), helicopters (T929 ATAK 2), aircraft (TAI Kaan), and ships (the Anadolu assault ship, with plans for a light aircraft carrier).

Despite the problems accompanying its development program, having its own tank is another confirmation of the capabilities of the Turkish industry and an example of the transition from an arms importer to a producer. And all of this with lower defense spending—despite being involved in military operations—than Poland.

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