Standard ACV-15 with Sharpshooter turret, armed with an 25-mm automatic cannon
Over the past three decades, Turkey has gradually built the foundation of a stable local defense industry. Consider the progress of this country in the field of some ground systems for the army.
In the next 20 years, it is expected that Turkey will receive almost all of its military equipment from local sources, completing a long phase of investment in technology and infrastructure.
Haluk Buluchu, director of business development at FNSS, said: “Over the past 20 years, we have gone from training to understanding how to manage large projects, how to build and, finally, how to design, with the government and the Secretariat of the Defense Industry (SSM) own cars ".
This cooperation allowed the local industry to meet the needs of the Turkish armed forces by 2011% by 54 year. “I believe that in the next 20 years, Turkey will buy all its weapons from its own industry,” he continued.
The path towards the development of a local military-industrial base began in 1985 with the creation of the Defense Industry Secret (SSM), whose objectives were the development of Turkish defense capabilities and the modernization of national armed forces. In order to give the country the necessary capabilities, the Secretariat has focused on meeting the needs of the armed forces through a combination of industrial participation and offset programs.
As a result of these efforts, a sustainable industrial structure of more than one hundred defense enterprises was established, and the SSM considered a large number of projects worth 30 billion dollars in total. This success has also attracted the attention of foreign customers and the Turkish industry has become an internationally competitive industry.
The land sector, in particular, is the main growth area. Although the past decade was determined by the needs of the United States and its allies deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, in land vehicles, but now the situation may change. The withdrawal of troops from these countries, coupled with the limitations of Western defense budgets and changes in the political space, may very well be the cause of reductions in this part of the market.
However, in the coming decade most of the investment will be determined by post-Afghan calculation. It is clear that countries like Turkey can play an important role in promoting growth; From their point of view, a number of developing forces, including friction with neighboring Syria, will strengthen the country's needs for efficient ground vehicles capable of meeting the asymmetric threats of the modern battlefield.
In order to support and lead development in this area, SSM has published a Strategic Plan for 2012 - 2016 years. Within its framework, industrialization, technology and procurement programs are managed to further develop defense and security capabilities, which will attract not only local buyers, but also many foreign customers. Its priorities are the creation of sustainable growth in industry, the achievement of maturity in program management and the development of technological competence.
A variant of the Pars 8x8 machine was ordered by Malaysia; FNSS is optimistic about further export sales
Signs of Turkey’s progress in the land sector can be seen on the example of one of its largest projects, the Altay program, which envisages the creation, development, production, testing and qualification of a new MBT to meet the requirements of the Turkish ground forces. SSM signed a contract in July 2008 with an Otokar company worth approximately 500 million dollars for the first phase of the program.
Under the contract, the company will work with its South Korean partner, Hyundai Rotem and subcontractors, as well as Turkish companies Aselsan, MKEK and Roketsan. At the initial stage of seven years, four Altay prototypes will be developed, manufactured, tested and qualified. If they successfully pass the tests, 250 machines will be manufactured at the stage of mass production, according to which separate contracts will be concluded.
One of the conditions of the contract is the greatest involvement of local companies in the project, but the technology for these machines will be obtained from Hyundai Rotem. The Altay design is based on the Korean Army’s K2 Black Panther tank. This is the first export model of Hyundai, winning the European rivals.
Otokar completed the Altay conceptual project in 2010 and presented a full-scale mockup at IDEF 2011. At Eurosatory 2012, the company announced that it had completed the working and preliminary stages and began the third and final stage - the development of a prototype and qualifications. The first two Altay prototypes were manufactured in November 2012 of the year.
Under this program, Aselsan will supply its OMS along with communication equipment, MKEK will supply an 120-mm smoothbore gun, and Roketsan will manufacture a modular reservation kit under a license from Hyundai Rotem.
Relations between South Korea and Turkey are very important for both countries. Korea Aerospace Industries signed 2007 contracts for millions of dollars in 400 for the export of its KT-1T training aircraft to the Turkish Air Force. Earlier, in 2001, Turkey bought a Samsung Techwin K9 self-propelled howitzer (it received the designation T-155 Firtina (Storm) in the Turkish army).
Both of these deals were the largest defense contracts signed by the South Korean industry at this time. They contributed to the expansion of its own defense industry, as well as the introduction of modern technology in Turkey.
T-155 was supplied by Samsung Techwin under a technology transfer agreement worth one billion dollars. Ankara ordered a total of 300 systems, the initial batch was supplied by Samsung, and the remainder was manufactured under license. Some electronic systems, including inertial navigation system and MSA, were developed by the Turkish company Aselsan.
These schemes show how technology can be brought into the country through the use of low-risk programs, which will undoubtedly contribute to the growth of industry. Aselsan is currently supplying the OMS for the Altay tank and is also developing an automatic ammunition transportation system for the Firtina ARV transport and loading machine based on the South Korean TXM K10.
Along with the Firtina, the ARV also raises the interest of potential foreign buyers, including Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia. MKEK successfully conducted demonstration firing of its towed 155 mm Panter howitzer and Firtina self-propelled howitzer in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Turkey is also successful in developing the ACV (Armored Combat Vehicle) armored tracked vehicle. At the end of the 80s, the Turkish army had a need for several thousand platforms based on the AIFV armored infantry fighting vehicle, which in turn is based on the American armored personnel carrier M113. FNSS won a tender to develop a platform under a technology transfer agreement. At the same time, the first 285 cases were delivered to the assembly country, and the rest were completely manufactured in Turkey.
FNSS was originally established as a joint venture between the Turkish company Nurol Holding (51%) and BAE Systems (49%) with the goal of producing 1698 ACV for the Turkish land forces, beginning in 1991. Initially, it received the designation ACV-300, where 300 belonged to the Detroit Diesel 6V-53T engine with an 300 hp power, all cars are currently divided into ACV-15 and ACV-19 families based on weight category (15 and 19 tons, respectively ). The first version of the car came from the factory in 2000 year, the second ACV-19 was created in the same year, but released in the 2004 year.
Buluchu added: “When we won the tender for ACV, we sent a group of specialists to the United States to learn how to assemble and weld machines; the entire FNSS company is formed around the manufacture of machines under license and their timely delivery with the quality required by the Turkish customer. ”
The ACV program has become an important milestone in the development of local tracked vehicle manufacturing capabilities.
“The Turkish customer had his own vision of creating a defense industry in Turkey and we (at FNSS) around us formed a supplier base, investing in training, purchasing machinery and increasing quality requirements,” he continued. "In one year, the localization of the project began, within two years the product was localized from zero to 73%."
The AIFV chassis was taken as the basis and then the high-mobility ACV-15 middle class machine with a low silhouette was designed. It has additional installation sites for weapons and equipment, which allows for various configurations. The 13 – 15 ton machine is capable of high-speed operations in desert conditions and on roads at speeds up to 65 km / h.
The standard ACV-15 configuration includes an 25-mm M242 automatic cannon, a 7,62-mm machine gun, 12 standard smoke grenade launchers and a stabilized Sharpshooter turret. It has a diesel engine with power 350 hp; The machine is available in various variants including armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles.
ACV-19 has an increased internal space and a large load capacity, while maintaining unification with the ACV-15. The machine is armed with a 12,7-mm machine gun and eight smoke grenade launchers. The main difference is that it has an elongated body, a more powerful bead gear and a reinforced suspension for increased payload. The hull also provides protection against armor-piercing ammunition and mines.
“We not only fulfill the requirements of the Turkish army, but in the 1997 year we began to export our combat vehicles and the UAE became the first buyer,” Buluchu explained. "The first shipments to the UAE included machines of various configurations, and then export shipments to Malaysia and the Philippines followed."
Moving toward wheeled combat vehicles was a natural advance for FNSS, which later developed the Pars (Leopard) family of vehicles.
“In 1998, we saw the need for wheeled vehicles and then we started thinking about introducing into this sector,” added Buluchu. “At that time, we manufactured ACV under license, and we gained a lot of experience in wheeled vehicles, organized cooperation and developed our Pars family in 2000 - 2010.”
The Pars 6x6 and 8x8 family of vehicles was chosen by the Turkish army, the company also received contracts for the development and production of two specialized options, a mobile assault bridge and an armored fighting earth-moving machine. Both vehicles are part of the strategic plan of the Turkish Defense Industry Secretariat.
The company also works with the Malaysian DefTech for the delivery of the AV8 machine based on Pars to the Malaysian armed forces.
“Government support has played a big role here, and the task is to ultimately satisfy all the needs of the Turkish military, but we are approaching saturation and growth will now slow down as we move into more complex technological areas,” said Buluchu.
From an export point of view, Buluchu believes that Turkey has created certain parameters that will help increase the success that it has already achieved: “The competitiveness of the European market is questionable, whereas in Turkey we have a young work force, a vibrant and ambitious industry. Therefore, in the next 20 years we will see our partners from Europe and America with the hope of seeking cooperation with us to penetrate the markets of Asia and the Middle East. ”
He believes that, like Turkey, other countries also want to develop their own industry. Instead of retaining only the local production base, Buluchu wants to form partnerships in new markets, transfer knowledge and “share the benefits.” This approach is different from the attitude of Western companies that want to sell from their own countries.
Suppliers of electronics and weapons systems
In addition to the main programs for the machines, SSM invests in local companies in order to promote electronics and weapons systems. MKEK is carrying out a project on a modern rifle for infantry in order to meet the requirements of the Turkish armed forces.
The company manufactured the 5,56-mm HK-33 assault rifle under license and at the IDEF 2007 exhibition; it showed a new prototype of the T-50 rifle, having a common body with the HK33E. MKEK also entered into a contract with the SSM to develop a machine gun.
5,56-mm assault rifle HK-33
Aselsan manufactures Python / Boa sights for the Turkish army. Light and durable, uncooled (on vanadium oxide) thermal imager with 384x288 matrix works in the long-wavelength range; it was designed for the individual weapons or branch weapons or surveillance applications. It can discern targets in bad weather, work in complete darkness, it will not turn off or light up when exposed to direct sunlight.
The company also developed the Eagle Eye fire control system, designed for shooters and machine commanders with the ability to capture targets in motion. It can work in bad weather or in combat conditions, even when using visual camouflage.
Through a carefully tailored investment in selected areas, the SSM secretariat has successfully laid the foundations for Turkey’s strong and sustainable defense industry. By creating international partnerships, using offset programs and technology transfer, as well as a strong R & D culture, Turkey is already creating technology that competes internationally. With the continued leadership of SSM and the high qualifications of its contractors, the future of the Turkish land sector looks brilliant.
Land Warfare International April / May 2013