Speaking at a ceremony held to introduce the tank models manufactured by Otokar at the company's facilities in Sakarya province on Thursday, Erdogan said,“If we remember the difficulties we faced in the past 100 years, from the War of Independence to World War I, the significance of the Altay tanks will be better understood.”
Examining the combat vehicles, Erdogan climbed on board one of the prototypes named Kaya, accompanied by Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel.
“I sincerely greet you all and want to express how proud I am to participate in such a ceremony that has such a significant meaning for our country, nation and defense industry,” Erdogan said in his speech. He thanked the Defense Ministry, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) and Koç Holding's Otokar.
He recalled that the signing ceremony for Altay had been held on July 29, 2008, in what he called a “historic step” for Turkey's national defense industry.“We are all now witnessing the realization of that signature, of that decision we made on that day,” he said.
Erdogan said the Altay tank project will increase Turkey's international prestige and move Turkey up a league in the global defense industry.
Expressing satisfaction that Altay's production would be completed one or two years ahead of schedule, Erdogan said,“We plan for Altay to enter into service in the army as soon as possible.”
Altay, which is a prestigious project for Turkey, will also enable the country to locally produce high-tech components, while rendering Turkey one of the few countries in the world capable of producing its own battle tank, for which Turkey holds all the property rights.
Production of the first prototype of Turkey's first national main battle tank represents a major success in Turkey's efforts to meet the needs of the TSK locally. The Altay tanks, the serial production of which is expected to start in 2015, will be the most modern tank in the 60-ton category in the world. Thanks to its new-generation fire-control system, which was specifically developed for Altay, the tank will be able to strike even moving targets with a very high precision. In the first batch, 250 tanks are to be produced for the Turkish army.