ANKARA, Turkey — Kenya’s military has ordered 118 four-wheel drive personnel carriers from Turkish armored vehicles manufacturer Katmerciler.
Kenya Defence Forces spokesperson Col. Zipporah Kioko told local press that the Ministry of Defence is finalizing the deal for the mine-resistant, ambush-protected Hizir vehicles through Turkey’s Export Credit Agency.
“The Hizirs will provide the Kenyan troops protective mobility wherever they are deployed,” a Katmerciler official said.
Kenya’s military will primarily deploy the Hizir vehicles for counterterror operations against the al-Shabab militant group.
The company official declined to comment on how soon the contract would be finalized, but a Turkish procurement source said the deal should be inked in a matter of weeks, if not days. The procurement source put the price of the contract at “nearly €60 million” (U.S. $73 million).
Last month, Turkey and Tunisia signed a $150 million deal for the sale of scores of Turkish-made defense equipment, including BMC’s Kirpi MRAP vehicles and Nurol’s Ejder Yalcin four-wheel drive armored combat vehicles.
“The deal augments the penetration into the African market of Turkish armored vehicles,” the Turkish procurement official said.
Sources said Katmerciler defeated South African and North American rivals for the Kenyan contract.
The Katmerciler official said the Hizir has a proven track record in Syria, where Turkish forces operate and face similar threats as Kenyan troops face along the border with Somalia.
Tested in the Netherlands and certified by NATO, the Hizir can be used in various configurations, such as combat; command and control; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense; weapon carrier; ambulance; border security; and reconnaissance.
The vehicle is fitted with Turkish company Aselsan’s Stabilized Advanced Remote Weapon Platform, which can be installed on tactical vehicles, fixed surveillance posts, towers and critical infrastructure.
Depending on the operational requirements, remote weapon platform can be equipped with a 12.7mm machine gun, a 40mm automatic grenade launcher or a 7.62mm machine gun. The turret has advanced capabilities and options such as a fire-on-the-move capability, day and night imaging, automatic target tracking, laser range finder for accurate ballistics, last-round warning, and manual backup.
The vehicle, which can carry up to nine personnel, is also equipped with a smoke grenade launcher on the top of the vehicle. It is designed on a V-hull monocoque chassis to increase vehicle and crew survivability by deflecting an upward directed blast — such as from a landmine or improvised explosive device — away from the vehicle.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.