Saturday, 28 May 2011

Turkey Modernizes German Leopard 2 Tanks

Turkey's largest defense company Aselsan has completed the modernization of the German Leopard 2A4 tank, which will serve partly as a test bed for the country's planned first main battle tank, the Altay, Anatolia news agency reported Friday.

Aselsan dubbed the tank it just modernized as the "Leopard 2 Next Generation." The new tank will be displayed at IDEF 2011, Turkey's largest defense fair, which is held every two years in Istanbul. This year's event will run from May 10 to 13.

Aselsan, while modernizing the Leopard 2A4, has replaced the tank's all electronic, electro-optical, electro-mechanical and electro-hydraulic equipment with its state-of-the-art systems, the state news agency said.

Aselsan earlier modernized 171 German-made Leopard 1 tanks under a $160 million contract with the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, or SSM, Turkey's defense procurement agency.

A state-owned company, Aselsan specializes in military electronics. Founded in Ankara in 1975, the company's 2009 revenue reached nearly $643 million.

Separately, Otokar, a private armored vehicle maker, signed two years ago a $500 million contract with SSM for the design and development of the Altay, Turkey's first indigenous main battle tank.

Otokar has a deal with South Korea's Hyundai Rotem to obtain technology transfer for the production of four Altay prototypes by the end of 2015. Several other Turkish companies, including Aselsan, are taking part in the Altay's development.

Many of the subsystems Aselsan has used to modernize the Leopard 2A4 will be included in the Altay.

Israel's Israeli Military Industries, or IMI, had upgraded the Turkish Army's 170 U.S.-made M60 main battle tanks for nearly $700 million. IMI, which worked with several Turkish partners including Aselsan, delivered the last upgraded M60 to Turkey about a year ago.

But IMI's upgrade of the M60s and Aselsan's modernization of the Leopard 1 are different matters. The first deal included major armor, fire control and engine progress, while the second project included the replacement of fire control systems only.