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Kazakhstan Is Switching To Turkish Armor

March 1, 2021
Via Kazakhstan MOD.

A video clip of a driving test for a new wheeled APC was released last week via the defense ministry’s official news portal. Shown in the clip was a single 8×8 vehicle navigating rugged terrain and firing on mock targets. It turns out this was a Turkish-made Otokar ARMA supplied to the Kazakhstan military in its latest effort to modernize its ground forces who are still reliant on Russian-made vehicles.

The Otokar ARMA is one of two competing modular wheeled APC models in Turkey. Its closest rival is the equally impressive FNSS PARS, which is renowned for its flawless suspension system and interior layout, whose operators include Malaysia, Oman, and the UAE.

According to the Kazakhstan defense ministry the ARMA it received had a remote controlled turret installed called “Nefer.” This turret somewhat resembles a similar model from Israel’s Elbit Systems but the difference is the choice of armaments–the Nefer supports a 2A42 30mm cannon, the same used on the prolific BMP-2, and has a coaxial 7.62mm machinegun attached in an enclosed compartment. It wasn’t specified if the Nefer housed a tandem missile launcher; for comparison’s sake, the Russian-made Berezhok carries four Kornet missiles externally. The Nefer is operated by a single person sitting behind a control panel in the vehicle’s troop compartment.

The Otokar ARMA is one of the best wheeled APCs developed by a NATO member state and has some advantages over its peers from France and Germany. Foremost is its amphibious mobility where it can cross bodies of water or coastal seas when disembarking from a landing ship. With the same layout as the General Dynamics ELS Pandur II and the Patria AMV the ARMA is proven to be customizable for whatever role its users intend. The armed forces of Bahrain, for example, acquired ARMA’s in 6×6 configuration rather than 8×8. Should the user require a large caliber main armament a variety of weapon stations are available. The UAE army’s Rabdan infantry fighting vehicle is an ARMA that mounts the turret for the Russian BMP-3.

With the Nefer turret installed this variant of the ARMA seats a half dozen infantry dismounts who enter/exit from a single door at the back. The commander and driver are seated in a cab next to the engine compartment on their left. The ARMA’s biggest selling point for countries wanting to replace their older tracked and wheeled APCs (such as the BTR-60/70/80) is its 450 horsepower diesel engine giving it a top speed of 105 kilometers per hour. Its protection level can be tailored to suit the user’s requirements beyond just additional armor panels around the hull.

The recent publicized test of an ARMA APC with the Nefer turret is far from a indicator of its adoption by the Kazakhstan army. It also casts doubt on the status of the earlier Barys APC, a unique project involving South Africa’s Paramount Group and a Russian supplier for the main armament, which was a 57mm cannon. Kazakhstan’s armed forces are no strangers to Turkish military technology and state-owned companies have years of experience with joint ventures involving Turkish partners. Should the ARMA succeed, however, it won’t only be a historic success for Otokar but opens broad opportunities for other Turkish military products to either augment or replace the Kazakhstan military’s current equipment list, from mobile electronic warfare systems to drones and even attack helicopters.

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