You can read the article published in the May 2019 Issue of MSI Turkish Defence Review here:
Otokar, a company that has to date delivered more than 30,000 military vehicles that it has designed and produced to over 30 countries around the world, presented its new AKREP II vehicle during a press conference on April 24. Speaking at the meeting that was closely followed by the sector press as well as local and national media, Serdar Görgüç, CEO of Otokar, provided a briefing on the recent activities of the company in the defence sector, and in particular its export activities.
Otokar developed the new AKREP II based on the genes of the AKREP vehicle developed by the company in the 1990s. While the platform inherits such characteristics as silent operation, low silhouette and compact structure from its predecessor, AKREP II does not compromise from ballistic and anti-mine protection, as well as firepower. During the presentation, Görgüç reminded that AKREP was the first light armoured vehicle to be equipped with thermal cameras in Turkey, and stated that AKREP II was also developed with focus on technology.
He said that the requirement for vehicles that can be used for armed patrol, reconnaissance and, when necessary, urban conflict missions has increased over the last 20 years as a result of the changing threats around the world, and that the new generation armoured AKREP II had been developed considering this requirement. He said: “We realized that our users had a need for an armoured vehicle with a low silhouette and high ballistic protection, and that allows for the integration of many different weapon systems in particular, for any type of reconnaissance or surveillance mission. Developed in 1995, AKREP was a low-silhouette, three-person platform that achieved great success, both in Turkey and abroad. The new generation AKREP II, on the other hand, was developed making use of our vast know-how and high technology, and was added to our product range to address modern expectations in regards to future threats. We expect AKREP II to see great success, especially in the export markets, with its effective firepower, high protection and survivability, high mobility, low silhouette and agility.”
Görgüç explained that they had designed AKREP II as a modular platform that can be adapted to different tasks, making maximum use of technology. “Battlefield conditions and user expectations change continuously, and armies want to make maximum use of the operational advantages and logistical efficiencies provided by technology. This is why modern armies have greater expectations from the new generation of vehicles and solutions, and are looking for highly technological solutions that will increase efficiency and performance. Bearing in mind all of these expectations, we developed AKREP II in such a way that any type of modern and future technology infrastructure can be integrated. For example, an AKREP II equipped with appropriate equipment for long-term reconnaissance and surveillance systems will be able to guarantee the simultaneous transfer of data to digital information systems with high identification and recognition capabilities. In this regard, AKREP II will be a pioneer for the application of advanced technologies in the military field,” said Görgüç.
Low Silhouette, High Protection and Firepower
AKREP II has been developed with alternative power sources (electric, diesel and hybrid). During the press conference, a fully electric variant of AKREP II was presented, integrated with a version of the BOZOK turret, which was also developed by Otokar and which is armed with a 25 mm auto cannon. With a height of 1.8 m without a weapon system and a little over 2 m with the integration of the BOZOK turret, AKREP II is noted for its low silhouette. The electric drive of AKREP II reduces significantly the acoustic and thermal signature levels of the platform. Moreover, the weight is reduced given the lack of such components as a transmission box and parts of the power train associated with internal combustion engines. Another advantage of this feature is the absence of the bump found in the mid-front of crew compartment in conventional wheeled vehicles, which results from the power pack. AKREP II has a quite compact design, and carries a crew of only three persons, namely the commander, driver and gunner.
These characteristics allow AKREP II to have the same level of protection as COBRA II of Otokar, even though it is lighter. Moreover, the suspension system of AKREP II has the same maximum payload capacity as COBRA II. The existing operational concept of AKREP II did not foresee carrying personnel, which allows the vehicle to have a higher payload capacity.
As a vehicle that has been developed considering the “armed reconnaissance” concept since the very beginning, AKREP II can also be equipped with turrets with up to 90 mm main weapon systems, which translates to a quite high firepower for a 4×4 armoured vehicle. The vehicle will thus be able to hit the targets it identifies during reconnaissance missions immediately and without delay, without any time loss or any other vulnerabilities in command and control, and remove itself from the zone thanks to electric drive system.
Secret Power Granted with Electric Drive
Electric drive systems have numerous advantages over internal combustion engines, carrying the armed reconnaissance concept one step further. First of all, electric engines are much quieter and produce less heat, and these two features enable the vehicle to maintain its stealthiness during reconnaissance missions. Furthermore, electric engines produce a fixed torque, including the very first moment they start to run. This allows a vehicle equipped with an electric drive system to have a very high acceleration rate. The horse power and torque they produce is controlled through electric voltage, and removing the need for a transmission box, while electric engines are also relatively easier to maintain.
Incorporating all of these characteristics above, AKREP II stores also braking energy, which helps boost the already high fuel efficiency. The battery technology used in the vehicle is lithium-ion.
In diesel-powered vehicles, the power pack is generally located at the front of the vehicle. In AKREP II, however, this area is completely empty, just like a luggage compartment, providing the user with significant important volume for the integration, when necessary, of additional batteries or different sub-systems. The drive systems will be sited in different locations in the diesel or hybrid versions of AKREP II that are under development so as not to lose this free space at the front.
Turkey’s First Electric Armoured Vehicle
During his speech, Görgüç underlined that Otokar had pursued resolutely its aim of becoming a global brand in the defence sector: “As a pioneer in the land platform market and a company that has fostered many innovations in the sector, Otokar moves its claim on the defence industry to a different dimension with the new generation AKREP II. The first version of AKREP II will be Turkey’s first electric armoured vehicle, and this will not only help us acquire know-how and experience in the application of electric car technologies on military vehicles, but will also represent the very first steps in Turkey in the development of electric, hybrid and autonomous military vehicles.”
He pointed out that AKREP II will be a benchmark for both Otokar and Turkey, and stated their objectives from the vehicle: “Through the AKREP project, Otokar has acquired unique know-how in the application of electric car technologies on armoured vehicles. This development represents a first step toward the future for hybrid and autonomous armoured vehicles. Our aim is to make AKREP II one of the leading products in the technology exports of Turkey.”
Otokar Now Transfers Technology
Görgüç explained that Otokar designs and produces land vehicles for both paramilitary and armed forces, with a product range that includes many solutions, ranging from 6-ton light armoured wheeled vehicles to tracked vehicles with high armour protection. He summarised the position of Otokar in the sector as follows: “The products and vehicles produced by our defence sector are appreciated all around the world. As the only national producer of land systems in Turkey, Otokar also increases the added value to our country with the vehicles and technologies it develops in this field. As a supplier of NATO and the UN, Otokar has to date produced more than 30,000 vehicles with its own technology, design and applications, and these are now seeing active use in both Turkey and all around the world.”
Görgüç also mentioned the project launched in the United Arab Emirates in 2017 for the development of the RABDAN 8×8 vehicle on the basis of Otokar’s own ARMA 8×8 vehicle design. “The reputation of our vehicles has crossed borders, and we have now secured a competitive position around the world. In the defence sector, Otokar is no longer a company that only produces and sells products; it is now a company that exports know-how and transfers technology from Turkey.”
Strong R&D and Increasing Exports
Görgüç said that they had spent ₺1 billion on R&D activities over the last 10 years, and Otokar now holds the intellectual property rights of all the military vehicles it has designed. In recent years, the company has attached increasingly more importance to exports, and export revenues represented 82 percent of its turnover in the defence sector in 2018. On the other hand, the share of exports in all sectors within the total turnover was 65 percent, or $211 million, and export destination countries in both the civil and military sectors has now surpassed 80. Görgüç explained out the strong export performance of Otokar: “The share of the defence sector in overall export figures is increasing. Along with this growing trend, Otokar has become a company that attaches more and more importance to exports. Its products are found in more and more export markets and the company continues to increase its performance in the export markets.”
In AKREP II, the driver is seated at the front, with the commander and gunner seated behind.
News of TULPAR Light Tank Export to be Announced Soon
Görgüç also informed the attendants of the export activities for the TULPAR light tank, which was exhibited for the first-time last year at Eurosatory in France. TULPAR is now competing in tenders organised in two countries in different parts of the world, and has successfully completed all of the testing procedures realised in these two countries, including firing tests, and has now been shortlisted in both. In the first of these in which the winning bid is expected to be announced until July, Otokar is competing against the Chinese Norinco, while it is in competition with three other competitor companies in the other tender.
Görgüç summarised the motivation behind the design of the vehicle: “Considering the continuously changing combat conditions and threats, the demand for light tanks that can serve effectively as reconnaissance and fire support vehicles in modern armies keeps increasing in the sector. Upon identifying this trend, we combined our experience, engineering capabilities and R&D potential to take into account the different requirements of our users in different parts of the world, and came up with the TULPAR light tank.”