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The Kaplan And The Tulpar: A Tale Of Two IFVs

May 13, 2015

Turkish Kaplan 20 IFV (via FNSS)The Kaplan 20 unveiled at IDEF 15. Via FNSS.

Turkey’s successful military modernization has created an abundance of armored transports. At this point, few countries in the world are building personnel carriers as much as Turkey is.

During the recently concluded IDEF 2015 arms show, the selection of APCs from Turkish manufacturers had a new addition: The Kaplan 20 from FNSS. Literally unveiled in the main exhibition space before an audience of guests, the Kaplan 20 is the world’s newest third-generation IFV.

The IFV, or infantry fighting vehicle, is a concept that was once popular among the NATO countries. When the first generation of APCs emerged in the 1950s, many were steel boxes on a tracked chassis. The ubiquitous M113 is the archetype for this vehicle type.

By the 1970s, however, it became apparent that APCs needed weapons to survive in the battlefield. A generation of European APCs then emerged armed with cannons, machine guns, and a missile launcher or two. Judging by its appearance, the Kaplan 20 is part of the same heritage.

According to FNSS, the Kaplan 20 is armed with a 30mm main gun and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. It can transport up to eight infantrymen along with a crew of three. Its maximum range is more than 650 kilometers. A frontal trim vane and twin propellers at the rear allows it to ford rivers. What FNSS doesn’t specify is its engine type, which it simply identifies as “diesel.” Judging by its size and characteristics (21 feet long and 11 feet wide), the Kaplan 20 uses either a 500 or 800 horsepower engine, with speed at 60 km/h.

Exactly why the Kaplan 20 was made isn’t clear. Since 1985, FNSS specialized in maintaining and upgrading the M113 APC. It was FNSS who advanced the aging platform with its ACV-19 based on the M2 Bradley. FNSS used the ACV 19 as the basis for an entire family of vehicles, including a tank destroyer and a mortar carrier.

The Kaplan 20 does appear to be a further development of the ACV-19 with an up-armored hull and remote controlled Teber-30 turret. In recent years FNSS also created the PARS, a modular wheeled APC for the export market.

But it has a rival.

Turkish Otokar Tulpar IFV

Via Otokar.

Two years ago, another Turkish manufacturer introduced its own tracked IFV, the Tulpar. With space for eight infantrymen and varying levels of protection, Otokar’s Tulpar borrowed many common features from NATO IFVs. It can even be mistaken for the German army’s own Puma IFV. Their similarities include an unmanned turret, which is fast becoming mandatory for armored vehicles today. This kinship with a Western European vehicle isn’t too surprising since military cooperation and patronage between Ankara and Berlin goes back an entire century and the Turkish arsenal is reliant on a lot of German equipment.

The Tulpar’s mobility is impressive with its 800 hp Scania diesel engine. Its seven road wheels ranks it alongside an emerging generation of spacious and well-armed IFVs like the CV 90 and the Kurganets-25.

The Kaplan 20 and Tulpar are both promising. But which platform meets the Turkish Army’s requirements and which is better suited for export?