May. 7, 2013 - By BURAK EGE BEKDIL – Defense news
ANKARA — Turkey’s leading armored vehicles manufacturer, Otokar, has revealed what it views as the most strategic indigenous vehicle ever developed by a local company, a tracked armored tactical vehicle, the Tulpar.
Analysts said that once the Tulpar has hit serial production, it would end Turkey’s dependence on imported tracked vehicles. But they also say the Tulpar may have to find export markets rather than win huge domestic orders.
“The Tulpar is a vehicle the Turkish military needed in large quantities. But the current peace process with Kurdish insurgents will probably mean less local demand than potentially foreign demand for a vehicle like this,” said one London-based analyst.
After three decades of civil strife with its autonomy-seeking Kurdish minority and nearly 40,000 deaths, the Turkish government earlier this year launched ambitious peace talks with the militant Kurds. The Kurdish separatist PKK promised to withdraw from Turkish territory as of May 8 in return for broader political rights and constitutional recognition. Turkey, the US and the EU recognize the PKK as a terrorist entity.
“The Tulpar is a strategic product for the Turkish military. It is designed to fight all anti-tank assets along with the new-generation tanks Turkey will possess,” Serdar Gorguc, general manager for Otokar, told reporters.
The Tulpar boasts an advanced ballistic and mine resistant body and modular armor technology. It can carry an entire infantry squad.
Otokar unveiled last year the country’s first national main mattle tank, the Altay, with top government officials promising the program would be completed “one or two years” ahead of time.
In 2008, Otokar signed a $500 million contract with the country’s procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries. Under the deal, Otokar will finish building four prototypes of the Altay this year, two years ahead of the original schedule. The four prototypes will undergo performance tests throughout 2013.
The SSM selected South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem for overall technical support. Turkey’s Aselsan was chosen as the fire control system and command, control and communications system subcontractor. Also, state-owned MKEK was selected as the subcontractor for the 120mm primary weapon, and Roketsan was tasked with the job to provide the armor.
Procurement officials said the serial-production agreement for the Altay would be effective probably in 2017, and together with the expected foreign orders, a first batch of at least 200 tanks is expected to be produced. The Altay probably will be the world’s most modern tank in the 60-ton category by then, Turkish procurement officials say.
Otokar also produces several other armored vehicles, the best known being the Cobra, a four-wheel-drive vehicle, used for reconnaissance and area control purposes by the Turkish security forces and the armies of several other countries.