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Turkey To Buy MRAPs, Weapon Carriers

Jul. 21, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By BURAK EGE BEKDIL   |   Comments
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ANKARA — Turkey will buy scores of armored vehicles and weapon carriers under two contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, officials said.

In the first deal, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said on July 3 that Turkey would look for a new supplier for the 175 mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles a local company failed to deliver.

“In coordination with the armed forces, we will look into a new model that will substitute for the undelivered Kirpis,” Yilmaz said.

Procurement officials said that in addition to the 175 Kirpis for the Army, the police force could order 20 more. Follow-on orders from the Army and the police are also likely, they said.

This year, the Turkish Armed Forces terminated a contract with Turkish armored vehicles producer BMC for the acquisition of 468 Kirpi vehicles. The Kirpi is the country’s first locally designed and developed MRAP.

Under a 2009 contact with the Turkish government, BMC produced and delivered an initial 293 Kirpi vehicles but failed to comply with the original delivery schedule.

One source at BMC blamed “acute financing difficulties and failure to have access to a helping credit line” for the failure to deliver on time. Immediately after the termination of the contract, the country’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), fined BMC €8 million (US $10.5 million).

One of the major players in Turkey’s booming armored vehicles market, BMC was seized in May by government authorities due to financial obligations its parent company failed to fulfill, and will be put up for sale.

The Kirpi can accommodate 13 personnel and can move over any terrain at a maximum speed of 105 kilometers per hour.

In 2011, BMC was in talks to sell scores of Kirpis to Iraq and Afghanistan. Industry sources said they see significant demand for the Kirpi in countries exposed to mine and ballistic attack threats.

They also predict substantial foreign demand for the MRAP vehicle, including in some Asian and African countries. BMC was planning to launch a special production line for a right-hand drive version of the Kirpi, which would help in the marketing to some Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Separately, SSM announced a two-way competition to acquire 184 tracked and 76 wheeled armored weapon carriers. In late June, the office sent requests for proposal to two local armored vehicle manufacturers, Otokar and FNSS.

Procurement officials estimate this contract to be worth anywhere from $150 million to $200 million.

The Turkish Army transports weapons with its aging M-113 armored carriers, Land Rovers and Willies.

In 2006, SSM announced a contest for the purchase of 1,075 four-wheel-drive weapon carriers, issuing requests for proposals in 2008. Local manufacturers Otokar, FNSS, Hema, Nurol and BMC submitted bids but in 2010 SSM canceled this competition.

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