Turkish army receives first two New Altay tanks to conduct field tests

According to information published by the Turkish Defense website "Defence Turk", on March 23, 2023, the first Turkish-made New Altay Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) will be delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces on April 23, 2023. Its development was initiated to address the Turkish Army's need for an advanced and capable MBT that could meet the demands of modern warfare, while also decreasing the country's reliance on foreign military technology. It is the first Turkish-designed and manufactured MBT, marking a significant milestone in the country's efforts to reduce its reliance on foreign military technology and strengthen its defense industry.
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The "New Altay" Turkish-made MBY Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Video footage Screenshot Defence Turk)

The history of the Altay tank can be traced back to the early 2000s when Turkey began its efforts to modernize its armed forces. In 2005, the Turkish government announced plans to create a next-generation MBT to replace its aging fleet of German Leopard and American M60 tanks. In 2008, Turkey's Under secretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) awarded a contract to the Turkish company Otokar for the design and development of the tank, with South Korean defense firm Hyundai Rotem providing technical support and expertise.

The first two tanks, named "New Altay" by the Turkish company BMC Defense, will be delivered to the Turkish army on April 23, 2023, for testing. The naming of the tanks as "New Altay" indicates significant changes and improvements made to the platform.

Numerous improvements were made to the New Altay tank based on combat experience. Design changes were made due to the use of the Korean power group in the project. Integration and tests were conducted. Between April and December 2022, tests were carried out with the power group supplied from Korea and found to be successful.

On April 23, 2023, two "New Altay" tanks featuring the Korean power group will be delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces for testing. The Turkish army aims to complete the tests by 2024. Following the completion of the tests in 2025, mass-produced tanks with the Korean power group are expected to enter the Turkish armed force's military inventory. The cooling package in the Korean power group is being made by BMC Power. Starting from the second half of 2026, serial production is planned to continue with the domestic power group BATU.

The serial production of the Altay tank will take place at BMC's new facility under construction in Ankara. The facility in Ankara is being planned with an annual production capacity of 100 tanks. It is planned that 25-30 of the mentioned tanks will be produced for export in parallel with their delivery to the TSK. So far, five Altay tank prototypes have been produced at the Arifiye facility. It was announced that one of the mentioned prototypes had undergone firing tests. Various systems in the Altay tank were localized, and additional capabilities were gained based on lessons learned from various battlefields.

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The Turkish-made Altay represents the next generation of Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Video footage Screenshot Defence Turk)

The Turkish-made Altay main battle tank (MBT) boasts several key features that make it a formidable and advanced weapon system in terms of firepower, mobility, and protection. The tank has a conventional layout with the driver at the front of the hull, a turret in the middle with the commander, gunner and loader, and a powerpack at the rear.

The Altay tank is armed with a 120mm L/55 smoothbore gun, capable of firing advanced ammunition types for effective engagement of enemy targets. The advanced fire control system and automatic loader ensure accurate targeting and rapid firing. It is powered by by Diesel engine developing 1,500 hp. The tank can reach a top road speed of around 70 km/h and an operational range of approximately 500 km. It is fitted with an advanced suspension system allowing excellent off-road performance, and enabling it to navigate various terrains with ease.

The Altay tank's armor offers superior protection against modern threats, including kinetic energy penetrators and shaped-charge warheads. Its modular armor design enables easy upgrades and repairs, adapting to ever-evolving battlefield threats. The tank is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as digital battlefield management systems, advanced communication systems, and integrated sensor suites. These features enable it to operate efficiently in network-centric warfare environments.