France’s Giat unveils project for Turkish battle tank

ANKARA (AFP) – French defense giant Giat Industries unveiled here yesterday its proposal for a new Turkish main battle tank (TMBT) to be produced in Turkey with mostly local technology. The fourth-generation tank, designed exclusively with Turkey’s needs in mind, has a crew of three to four, an automatic loader, 1,500-horsepower diesel engine and 120mm smooth bore gun, three machine guns and grenade launchers, Giat’s director of international affairs for Turkey, Marc Chassillan, said. The tank will be developed with a Turkish prime contractor and «massive» use of Turkish technology, with eventual export perspectives in mind, Chassillan told a briefing at the 7th International Defense Industries Fair that opened here yesterday. If a deal can be struck by the end of the year and the contract awarded in 2006, Chassillan said, the first prototype could be produced by 2010, with delivery of the first mass-produced tank in the second half of 2012. Production goals include a first batch of 250 tanks, Chassillan told AFP, with a total fleet of 500 for Turkey’s defense purposes, efficiently replacing the 3,000 aging tanks currently in use. The Giat TMBT fully complies with a list of indispensable specifications put forward by Turkey, Chassillan said, including missile-firing capability from the main gun, which would unleash the new Polynege target-seeking medium-range missile. Ankara defense officials have been in contact with other countries as well, including Germany, which produces the Leopard II, with a view to setting up a national tank industry.