Since the middle of the last decade, a number of Turkish defense industry enterprises, with the assistance of foreign organizations, have been developing the promising Altay main battle tank. The new machine was intended for the rearmament of armored units; she was to replace various types of military equipment, including obsolete Tanks. After many years of waiting, industry and the army completed all the necessary work, thanks to which a contract for serial production of equipment could appear.
From testing to contract
The main work on the prospective Altay MBT was completed about two years ago. By the beginning of November 2016, the industry completed the tests and fine-tuning of the new armored vehicle, after which several experienced tanks went into units for military trials. Then it was asserted that the army would carry out all checks in a few months, and after that an order for serial production would have to appear. However, the signing of the contract took place with considerable delay.
Until spring of this year, the Turkish leadership determined the organization that was to master the assembly of promising tanks. In April, it was announced that the contract for the production of works will receive the company BMC. At the same time, it was planned to attract a lot of other organizations to the construction of tanks - they had to manufacture and supply various components, components and assemblies. In this case it was only about the results of the competition. The contract for the assembly of equipment was going to be signed later - over the next few months, but without specifying a specific date.
According to the plans of the time, the first production tanks of the Altai were to enter service in the 2019-2020 years. During this period, the industry was supposed to deliver the first batch of 15 armored vehicles. In 2021, it was proposed to build and transfer to the troops more 20 tanks. In total, the needs of the land forces of Turkey were estimated at the 1000 prospective MBT. It was reported about the possibility of dividing this number into four batches of 250 machines. Each new party was supposed to have differences from the previous one, and in fact it was about different modifications of equipment.
On November 9, the customer and the executor represented by BMC signed the expected contract for mass production and further servicing of promising tanks. In accordance with the terms of this contract, the contracting company, with the assistance of various subcontractors, will have to build and transfer to the army the first serial Altay MBT over the next 18 months. In the future, the customer will be given another 249 machine of a new type. The exact dates for the completion of all the required supplies have not yet been named. In addition, the cost of serial equipment is not specified. From unofficial sources, it became known that the army will pay about 250 billion US dollars for 3,5 tanks of the first batches.
According to the Turkish press, the order for 250 tanks is divided into two series. The first will include 40 tanks, the second - the remaining 210. The fact is that the tank "Altai" still does not fully correspond to the desired appearance. For one reason or another, the Turkish industry was unable to create or bring to the series a number of necessary components. Thus, the first 40 armored vehicles in their appearance will be similar to an experienced technique, and the next 210 will be seriously different from them.
It should be noted that the simplest arithmetic does not yet allow to set the price of a separate serial tank. The fact is that 3,5 billion dollars will be spent not only on the purchase of tanks, but also on their maintenance during the entire period of operation. In addition, this amount includes the cost of developing and fine-tuning new components planned for implementation in the second series of tanks.
As far as is known, the second series MBT Altay should receive new engines, original protective equipment, etc. This means that a significant proportion of these 3,5 billions will be spent on new research and development, not on building tanks. Not so long ago, new information appeared, according to which tanks will cost only 2 billion dollars, and the remaining 1,5 billion will be spent on the development of auxiliary projects.
According to the latest data, the Turkish command maintains plans for the construction of 1000 promising main tanks. A quarter of this amount is already contracted and should appear in the foreseeable future. The following 750 tanks will be purchased later under separate contracts. It is curious that officials still cannot even give an approximate time frame for the start of production of the following equipment series. Apparently, 251 th “Altai” will be ordered not earlier than machine # XXUMX comes off the conveyor.
The cost of producing all desired tanks also remains unknown. There are various estimates, including the most daring. The most plausible is the forecast, according to which the completion of the development of units, the construction of 1000 tanks and their subsequent operation will cost Turkey about 25-30 billion dollars. Naturally, it will not be one-time spending; they will stretch over many years and decades.
It is known that different series of Altai tanks will differ significantly from each other. In fact, we are talking about the purchase of equipment of various modifications. The first car in the series will go under the designation Altay T1 - it is planned to purchase all 40 of such tanks. In the future, the army will receive the MBT Altay T2. Apparently, at least 210 tanks will be built on such a project. This will be the second series of the current contract. Perhaps the next contract will also provide for the delivery of a certain amount of T2. In the distant future, construction of cars of the Altay T3 version is expected.
According to the available data, the modification of the Altay T1 is very similar to the experienced tanks that were previously used in tests and repeatedly demonstrated to the public. However, there are innovations. Thus, it is planned to use the active protection complex Aselsan AKKOR on production tanks. It consists of several systems for detecting incoming projectiles and launchers with protective ammunition. The use of KAZ should increase the survivability of the tank when working in various conditions. In the engine compartment of the tank, the MTU diesel engine of 1500 hp power will remain.
Tanks modifications "T2" will differ significantly from the first production vehicles. First of all, it is planned to increase the level of protection through the use of certain components. According to some data, an improved case reservation has been proposed, supplemented by dynamic and active protection. All ammunition 120-mm smooth-bore guns will be rendered in an isolated installation. In this case, it will include guided missiles launched through the barrel of the gun, which will also require the development of a fire control system. Finally, the onboard electronics of the armored vehicle will receive a special mode for crew training.
The Turkish press mentions that the Altay T2 project also provides for the use of a promising camouflage complex, but there is no exact information on this subject. Earlier, exhibitions demonstrated prototypes of technology with characteristic covers that provide visual disguise, as well as possibly reducing visibility in other ranges. Probably, the promising complex will include other means, including electronic warfare devices.
According to various sources, almost all 750 tanks planned for an order in the future will be built according to the Altay T3 project. So far, not too much is known about this modification of the tank. For example, earlier it was reported that the command wants to get the main tank with an uninhabited tower. Information about other features of a promising project is still missing. The terms of appearance of the third version of Altai also remain unclear.
Still unanswered the question of power plants. Experienced Altay tanks were completed with 1500-strong motors of the German company MTU. In the future, a similar engine of Turkish production should appear, but its prospects are vague. In early November, the tank developers recalled the continuation of work in this direction, but noted that they could not be completed within the next 18 months - until the appearance of the first production tank. It probably follows from this that the first batch of 40 machines from the Altay T1 will receive imported engines. Moreover, while there is no clarity on the following modifications. Whether the designers from Turkey will have time to create and work out a new engine before the launch of the production of T2 tanks is unknown.
New instead of old
In the future, Turkey plans to build 1000 tanks "Altai" of three modifications. This technique is intended to upgrade the fleet of armored troops, the state of which leaves much to be desired. According to known data, the Turkish ground forces have more than 2400 medium and main tanks of various types. Of these, only 400 can be called fully modern and meet current requirements. At the same time, the basis of armored troops are repeatedly upgraded tanks M48 and M60 American production. They, above all, will be replaced by the new MBT Altay.
The most massive tanks of Turkey are the M60 family vehicles - more than 930 units. In service, there are still more than a hundred tanks of the M60A1 version. More advanced M60A3 TTS are available in quantities over 650 units. Less than two hundred M60 tanks have been upgraded by Sabra. Due to the installation of additional reservations and improved electronics, they generally comply with current requirements, but for a number of indicators they lose to “full-fledged” main tanks. Probably, the Sabra will remain in service, while the tanks of the A1 and A3 TTS versions will be replaced.
Less numerous are the M48A3 and M48A5T2 tanks - more than 750 units. These tanks are significantly different from the base "Patton", but they can not remain in operation forever. The number of M48 is gradually reduced due to the final moral and physical obsolescence.
In service, only slightly less than four hundred German-made Leopard 1 tanks remain in service. More massive (about 230 pieces) are armored Leopard 1A3. The 170 tanks of the Leopard 1A1 modification that were in service in the past were upgraded by the T1 project. However, this technique also faces the problem of obsolescence.
Truly modern can be considered less than 350 tanks Leopard 2A4. All this equipment previously served in the German Bundeswehr, and was later sold to Turkey. In the recent past, all existing “Leopards-2” were modernized by local industry. Not so long ago, the fleet of such tanks numbered more than 350 units, but the well-known events of the end of 2016 in Syria markedly reduced their numbers.
As you can see, the state of the Turkish armored vehicles park leaves much to be desired. It is based on modernized, but outdated cars in every sense. Newer models are available in smaller quantities, and besides, they were not able to show their best during the battles. Obviously, in such a situation, the army really needs completely new armored combat vehicles. At the same time, it is impossible not to notice that the amount of obsolete equipment is almost twice the number of “Altaev” planned for the order. In the distant future, no more than 1000 brand new tanks will go into service, whereas almost 2000 units of armored vehicles need to be replaced.
Apparently, when replacing armored vehicles, not quantity but quality will be put at the forefront. The prospective Altay MBT, for obvious reasons, has significant advantages over all existing M48, M60 and Leopard 1, and therefore the troops have the ability to maintain or even increase their potential with a reasonable reduction in the number of vehicles. Whether it will be possible to realize such perspectives of “Altai” in practice will become clear later.
The development of the main Altay tank project started in the 2005 year, and the general appearance of the car was presented only five years later. In 2015-m for the first time showed a prototype. Thus, it took “only” 13 years from the start of development to the signing of a contract for mass production. To this should be added one and a half years allocated for the construction of the first production tanks. All this allows the project "Altai" to be rightfully called long-term construction.
The main reason for this delays is the overall difficulty of creating both a modern main battle tank as a whole and its individual components. For example, the new Turkish diesel for tanks is still not ready, and while the designers can not name the exact dates of its entry into production. Also at the development stage there are some other systems that are planned to be introduced only in new versions of “T2” and “T3”.
In accordance with the terms of the new contract, the first serial Altay MBT should be received by the troops no later than 2020 of the year, and the production of the remaining 249 machines will take several more years. So far, there are no guarantees that production will not face new problems, and this will not lead to delay in work. Officials have not yet specified the deadlines for completing the construction of 250 ordered tanks, and this may be the reason for pessimistic forecasts.
However, the tightening of serial production of the first series of tanks has its positive aspects. An excessively long release of two and a half hundred combat vehicles will create a certain amount of time to complete the development of the Altay T3 project. Special requirements are imposed on it, which affects the complexity and timing of work. As a result, delaying the construction of the first 250 tanks can be useful for designers.
Known information suggests that the Turkish industry, despite all the difficulties, will still be able to fulfill the first order for the production of Altay tanks. However, the question of the timing of the completion of construction remains unanswered. It is also not possible to guarantee that the total cost of the work will remain within the scope of the approved financing. As for the next order and the project Altay T3, their fate directly depends on the current work.
In general, the situation from some points of view gives grounds for optimism, but along with them there are also grounds for negative forecasts. Whether Turkey will be able to successfully complete one of the most interesting recent projects will be known later. She will have to make every effort, since the future of the armored troops directly depends on the success of the Altai project.
On the materials of the sites:
MBT Altay goes to series
- Ryabov Kirill
- Photos used:
- Otokar Otomotiv ve Savunma Sanayi A.Ş. / otokar.com.tr, Armyrecognition.com
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