Following repeated losses in the fighting against Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, some suffered last month in Afrin, Syria, Turkey is rushing to equip its main battle tanks with the ‘Akkor Pulat’ Active Protection Systems (APS) developed in Ukraine. In late February 2018 Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli announced that following successful tests in Ukraine the APS will begin testing on M-60T and Leopard-2A4 tanks in Turkey, to follow with operational deployment of systems on those tanks soon after the tests completion.
Turkey decided to adopt the Ukraine system as a stopgap measure to protect its armored vehicles after suffering significant losses to anti-tank missile attacks in Syria. The primary threat they encountered in Syria was the second generation Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM), such as the TOW, Konkurs, and Kornet fired from ranges of several hundred meters to few kilometers away. Videos released by the Kurds show tanks and self-propelled artillery being hit from medium distances, by guided anti-tank missiles fired at targets that were exposed over ridge line or out in the open.
Turkey uses the German Leopard 2A4 that did not receive the latest survivability upgrades the German Army is currently taking. In contrast, the Turkish M-60Ts offers superior protection, given the modular armor added to its turret under the upgrading program developed by Israel’s IMI. However, even this armor is not immune to large diameter tandem warheads used by the laser beam-riding Kornet.
With limited access to original equipment providers (due to political friction between Turkey, Germany, and Israel), Ankara realized that to meet this urgent need, primarily with Leopard 2A4 and M-60A3 main battle tanks, that are the least protected, they will have to rely on the local industry.
To further cut corners, they looked elsewhere for mature active protection systems solutions and found the Ukrainian Zaslon as a suitable solution, addressing both operational needs and political constraints. (end of excerpt)
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