The Middle East features active procurement programmes in Bahrain, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE, and increased spending on Armoured Vechiles (AV) forecast until at least the end of the decade. Despite the successes that have been achieved by the international community in Iraq and Syria, the Middle East remains highly unstable. The conflict in Syria has seen the involvement of all the major regional states, including Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, all of which have deployed forces. There are no signs that the situation will significantly improve within the foreseeable future.
The Middle Eastern AV market remains fragmented, though the stronger economic powers in the region continue to modernise their inventories and expand their capabilities. On the other hand, many war-torn countries in the region do not contribute much overall to regional market demand or supply, being in the position of seeing a great deal of AFV activity but not actively shaping the commercial trends.
Turkey increased its defence and security budgets by 20% in 2016, bringing the figure to a total of $21.2 billion. The hike came amid the country’s involvement in Syria, an attempted military coup and a fresh political alliance with Russia, all of which have caused great concern in the West.
In June 2016, domestic vehicle giant Otokar was contracted to supply 220 COBRA II 4x4 tactical wheeled AVs to EGM/Turkish national police at a cost of €106.1 million, including maintenance and support systems. Otokar revealed that the COBRA II had successfully passed desert and amphibious terrain and hot climatic condition tests. The vehicles are to be armed with the Aselsan SARP UKKS. Furthermore, in May 2016, the company received €64.8 million for the delivery of APCs, URALs, and COBRA Is to the EGM/Turkish national police.
Otokar also announced in August 2016 that it had submitted its final offer to the country’s armament procurement agency (SSM,) to begin serial production of the ALTAY MBT for Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC), including features ranging from a 120mm/L55 calibre smoothbore gun and a power pack consisting of 1500hp diesel engine to a situational awareness system for 360° coverage.
ALTAY negotiations are still ongoing and SSM/TLFC tests have not yet been completed. The final decision should have been announced by the end of 2016. If Otokar is selected, first serial production will be ready for delivery between 18-22 months following the contract award.
Earlier in the summer, the SSM awarded FNSS Savunma Sistemleri (a joint venture of Nurol Holding and BAE Systems) a contract for the purchase of 260 self-propelled anti-tank systems. The contract will meet the requirements of the anti-tank vehicle project (STA,) under which all design, development, and prototype qualification is to be completed in 2018. Serial production will then begin, with all 184 tracked and 76 wheeled AVs to be delivered to TLFC by 2020. The tracked variant will be based on the company’s 15t KAPLAN-10 platform (80 with KORNET-E, 104 with Roketsan OMTAS/MIZRAK-O Anti-Tank Missile Launcher), while the wheeled system will use the PARS 4x4 WAV vehicle as the base carrier, to be armed with OMTAS/MIZRAK-O. The certification process is scheduled to be completed in 2018 and deliveries of 260 vehicles will be completed during the next two years.