Israel and Turkey complete joint tank revamp project

Ministery of Defense

Israel and Turkey have completed a $700 million 8-year long cooperative effort to improve Turkish tanks. This week, Israeli Defense officials attended the Turkish graduation ceremony headed by the Turkish Defense Minister.

Date: 08/04/2010, 7:30 PM     Author: Arnon Ben-Dror

In the Center for Tank Maintenance in Kayseri, Turkey, a special ceremony marked the end of the joint tank project carried out by the Turkish Defense Ministry, Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit Systems. The program improved 170 M60A1 tanks, so that they are now at the same level as the most advanced tanks in the world. The last tank was delivered to Turkey this week

The ceremony was attended by Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul as well as other senior officials of the Turkish Defense, the Turkish Army, and the Israeli Defense Ministry.

The nearly $700 million deal was signed in March 2002 in order to revamp 170 old tanks. The M60A1 tanks started out as 40 year old American armored vehicles, but now have state of the art weapons systems that combine fire power, sensors and more. The system was integrated with the help of the knowledge and experience acquired by Israel Military Industries during Project Chariot.

The eight year long project, which has been deemed extremely successful, replaced all major systems of the original tank with advanced modern systems. 120 mm cannon control systems, enhanced fire power, advanced turret moving, protection systems, engine transmission changes and other major improvements were made on the tanks. The end result is a high performance tank that is in line with the world’s leading combat tanks.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul outlined the technological advances of the refurbished tanks, and noted that they had undergone very thorough and successful tests prior to operative use. He added that in order to access the knowledge and experience acquired in the course of the project, Israel Aircraft Industries and a Turkish company had signed a cooperative agreement, with the goal of working together on additional projects throughout the world, and added that the Deputy Commander of the Colombian Army, General Aradilo, came to examine the tank’s performance.

Director General of the Israeli Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. (res) Udi Shani, said, “I am proud to be here on Turkish soil and to take part in this ceremony. Another joint project has ended successfully. This project is unique in its scope in both countries, which recruited its best forces for the mission.”

The CEO of Israel Military Industries, Brig. Gen (res.) Avi Felder, who was among the initiators of the project, praised the fruitful cooperation between the Turkish and Israeli teams. Felder said that this project reflected the company’s management and implementation of complex projects that require cooperation with the client’s operational requirements.

IMI chairman, Avner Raz, expressed his confidence in this project, which he hoped will be the first of many future cooperative efforts between Turkey and Israel. “The project is evidence of successful cooperation between the defense industries and it led to the development of the most advanced combat tanks in the world.”