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New Generation FIRTINA-II Howitzers Delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces

Issue 104

The Three New Generation FIRTINA Howitzers (Fırtına-2) produced by BMC were delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces in a ceremony held on January 23, 2021. A modified Leopard 2A4 tank with a mock-up ALTAY Main Battle Tank (MBT) turret was also featured at the ceremony.

Minister of National Defense Hulusi AKAR, Chief of General Staff General Yaşar GÜLER Commander of the Land Forces General Ümit DÜNDAR, and the Deputy Minister of National Defense Muhsin DERE visited the 1st Main Maintenance Factory Directorate in Sakarya. Before the Three New Generation FIRTINA Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) Delivery Ceremony, Minister AKAR was briefed by BMC officials on company activities and then visited the exhibition of the armored vehicles manufactured by BMC.

Underlining that significant accomplishments were realized in the defense industry, Minister AKAR said, "There were numerous obstacles and difficulties in doing this. These successes do not happen overnight; these should be seen, appreciated, and supported." Pointing out that the industrialization process of developed countries also takes place in this way, Minister AKAR stated that Turkey's need for an effective, deterrent, and honorable Military is greater than ever due to the developments in its surroundings. Stating that Turkey has the capacity to produce the most modern and state-of-the-art weapon systems, "We have the necessary cultural and intellectual background. We need to do whatever we can do for our country and our nation by using them," said Minister AKAR. Stating that the indigenousness rate in the defense industry has increased from 20 percent to 70 percent, Minister AKAR said, "Hopefully, we will raise this bar even higher and produce our national fighter aircraft, SIPER Air & Missile Defense System, and we will put our TCG Anadolu Amphibious Assault Ship into service in the near future. We will protect the rights and interests of this noble nation on land, sea, and air to the end; no one should doubt this. We will continue our efforts steadily day and night." Stating that the experience and capabilities of the factory in Arifiye is highly important, Minister AKAR said, "Protecting the rights and interests of our workers and engineers during the transformation of the factory and meeting their needs with a rational and humanitarian approach enabled the factory to continue its production without any problems today." After the briefing, Minister AKAR and the Commanders received information about the ongoing project activities and visited the powerpack test center at the factory. Minister AKAR examined the 400 HP VURAN, 600 HP AZRA, and 1000 HP UTKU engines used in FIRTINA howitzers and participated in engine tests. AKAR also welded the hull of the 6th new generation FIRTINA SPH, which is still in production.

Following Minister AKAR's visit to the factory, 3 New Generation FIRTINA howitzers were delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces with the signing ceremony held in the armored vehicle exhibition area. Speaking at the delivery ceremony, Minister of National Defense Hulusi AKAR emphasized that maneuver and firepower are among the most crucial elements for the Armed Forces worldwide. "FIRTINAs are battle-proven systems. We have used them successfully in our operations so far; we are extremely satisfied with these systems. We do not doubt that our Armed Forces will accomplish much more with this new and improved version. We will continue to protect our sovereignty, independence, rights, and interests on land, sea, and air." After the signing ceremony, Minister AKAR and Commanders watched the demonstration of the armored vehicles produced by BMC.

BMC unveiled its new 8×8 armored vehicle at the demonstration. The new vehicle was developed under the New Generation Light Armored Vehicles (Yeni Nesil Hafif Zırhlı Araçlar - YNHZA) Project for the Turkish Armed Forces. As part of the YNHZA project, 2962 light armored wheeled vehicles (6×6 and 8×8) and light armored tracked vehicles in 52 different configurations with active and passive protection systems will be procured. It is expected that BMC's new 8×8 armored vehicle will weigh around 30 tons and use the 600 hp Azra engine developed by BMC. The 8x8 demonstrator vehicle is equipped with the Aselsan product 35mm KORHAN Weapon System with stabilized gunner sight and stabilized independent panoramic sighting system, MSTTS BTID (Battlefield Target Identification Device), AKKOR Active Protection System (APS) and radars, LIAS LWR (Laser Warning Receiver System), YAMGÖZ Enhanced 360° Close-Range Surveillance System, and SPOT Gunshot Detection System. The KORHAN unmanned turret is armed with a 35mm automatic cannon manufactured by MKE. The cannon can fire airburst rounds developed and produced by Aselsan. The main gun has 100 rounds available in the turret and 200 spare rounds in the vehicle. The turret is also armed with a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun as secondary armament.

At the ceremony, the T1 model of the ALTAY MBT, which is based on the PV2 prototype, was also displayed. The first noticeable change was the new location of the AKKOR radars. Unlike the previous version shown at IDEF '19, the radars are now placed inside integrated sponsons, giving a more streamlined turret silhouette. The dummy AKKOR launchers, on the other hand, were in the same location as in the previous model. During the live demonstration, the T1 prototype displayed its acceleration and braking capabilities and its turret stabilization features.

During the demonstration, BMC also revealed its proposed solution for the possible Leopard 2A4 MBT upgrade project. The modified vehicle is built to show the company's capabilities as a technology demonstrator. Based on the high-definition images shared on the official Twitter account of the Turkish Ministry of National Defense, the vehicle is equipped with the turret of the ALTAY FTR (Firepower Test Rig) pre-prototype vehicle. The turret is fitted with a dummy armor module, which is welded to the turret sides to imitate the ALTAY T1 turret's visual characteristics. However, various sources confused these welded metal parts (some visible welding defects are seen on the turret) with the Roketsan-made add-on armor modules (Roketsan is not involved with this tech-demo). The demo turret is armed with the L44 cannon removed from the original Leopard 2A4 turret. The gun mantlet (the armored part around the main cannon) still retains the FERO-Z18 auxiliary sighting telescope on the lower right corner. It seems that the turret is fitted with a dummy fire control system and optics, as the commander's independent panoramic sight does not contain electro-optical parts. Currently, Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tank (MBT) modernization activities are officially carried out by Aselsan and Roketsan. BMC's technology demonstrator with ALTAY turret was developed by the company's own initiatives to display BMC's talent and capabilities. However, it is not clear yet whether the upgrade package will be implemented in the future