The Turkish army received the first Altay tanks. Only two so far

The manufacturer BMC Otomotive announced the transfer of two pre-production samples of the Altay MBT to the military on social networks. These samples will be tested in the field for 1.5-2 years before starting mass production. To show that the transferred tanks are significantly different from the previous samples of the Altay project, the experimental vehicles are called Yeni Altay, that is, the new Altay.

The Altay main battle tank is considered one of the most expensive tanks in the world. The cost of the unit is approximately $13.75 million. Moreover, the development of this project started more than 15 years ago. And in general, Turkey’s desire to get its own MBT appeared back in the mid-1990s, when the MİTÜP – Milli Tank Üretimi Projesi (National Tank Production Project) project was launched.

Turkey took the first real steps to develop its own tank in 2007, when the Otokar company signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense to develop the design and create four prototypes of the national main battle tank. In 2008, Otokar signed a contract with South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem for technology transfer and development assistance, as the first Turkish tank was to be based on the Korean K2 Black Panther, which has been in production since 2008 and which recently was ordered by Poland for its own armed forces. Thus began Turkey’s first attempt since 1943 to create its own tank.

The design of the national tank was presented to the public in 2010, but the first prototype was ready only at the end of 2016. It was assumed that the Turkish army would purchase 1,000 main battle tanks, divided into four batches of 250 units, with each new batch receiving some improvements. Otokar prepared the production areas and was going to start production of the tanks within 18-22 months, which at that time had already received the name Altay in honor of General Fahrettin Altay, the commander of the 5th Cavalry Corps during the Turkish War of Independence in 1919-1922.

But instead of Otokar, the Turkish Ministry of Defense awarded the production contract to BMC Automotive, the country’s largest manufacturer of public transport buses and trucks. Then, due to Germany’s embargo for intrusion in the Syrian civil war, there was a mess for engines and transmissions for the Altay. The design of the tank was redesigned to use Korean DV27K engines and SNT Dynamics transmission, but they were ready only in 2021.

And finally, the first tanks are ready for testing. It was not possible to get a 100% national tank. More than 200 subcontractors are working on the Altay project, some of which are foreign. Assistance in design development and technology transfer was provided by Hyundai Rotem, production technologies for 120 mm guns were provided by Hyundai WIA, and armor production technologies were provided by Samyang Comtech and Poongsan Corporation. Engines – by Hyundai Doosan Infracore. Transmission – by SNT Dynamics. All these are South Korean companies.

Fire control system, active protection system, communication, laser warning, navigation, visor systems – by ASELSAN. The guns were produced by MKEK (Mechanical and Chemical Industries Corporation). Armor – by ROKETSAN. The main manufacturer is BMC Automotive. These are Turkish companies.

So far, 10 samples of the Altay MBT have been built in various configurations, with different engines and transmissions. Serial production of tanks will start only in 2024-2025, but this is not certain.

MBT Altay specifications
Mass – 65 tons
Length – 7.3 meters
Width – 3.9 meters
Height – 2.6 meters
Crew – 4
Armor – ROKETSAN, including composite armor based on Korean Special Armor Plate (KSAP)
Active protection system – Aselsan AKKOR together with the EW complex
Main armament – 120 mm MKE smoothbore tank gun
Secondary armament – 1 × 12.7mm/7.62mm remote-controlled weapon station, 1 × 7.62 mm twin machine gun
Engine – Hyundai Doosan Infracore DV27K
Power – 1500 hp. (1110 kW)
Transmission – SNT Dynamics EST15K
Operational range – 450 km
Maximum speed – 65 km/h (on road), 45 km/h (off-road)