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The Turkish Army Is Switching To Wheeled APCs

August 3, 2021
The PARS 6×6 IZCI. Via FNSS.

Since 2016 the Turkish armed forces have undergone a drastic shift in its mission and role. Fully committed to NATO in the past, it’s now acting far beyond the alliance’s purview as it shapes events in the Caucasus, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and beyond. This pursuit of an aggressive foreign policy is happening alongside a piecemeal modernization that involves world-class equipment. In the first half of 2019 the country’s leading armored vehicle manufacturer announced it won orders to supply the army with its PARS 6×6 and 8×8 APCs. According to FNSS it will supply an initial batch of 100 PARS APCs for the army and the Gendarmerie or national police force.

The army’s mechanized units are still reliant on some 3,000 M113A2 APCs supplied by the US and assembled by FNSS. The number of infantry fighting vehicles or IFVs are much smaller and these are the ACV-15, whose age and characteristics are just as outdated. The shortcomings of ACV-15’s and M113’s are apparent when up against the portable anti-armor and anti-material weaponry fielded by insurgents battling the Turkish armed forces. In recent years the army switched to a fleet of MRAPs manufactured by BMC that earned their combat records against Kurdish rebels and open warfare in Syria and Libya.

The PARS 6×6 Scout is now the army’s choice to fulfill three roles in the near future: command and control; reconnaissance in hazardous or toxic environments (CBRNe); mobile electronic warfare and signals intelligence. For a single vehicle to be chosen for such diverse roles proves the sterling qualities of the PARS 6×6. Fully amphibious and heavily armored, the PARS 6×6 has a different layout compared to other wheeled APCs. The entire crew are seated in the cab with the engine compartment located behind them. This is comparable to the French-made VAB or the German-made Fuchs. The PARS 6×6, however, is better protected with its monocoque hull encased in add-on panels giving it ballistic protection as high as STANAG IV.

The larger PARS 8×8 may enter service with the Turkish military later on. Its public record as an exportable combat vehicle is decent enough with Malaysia and Oman being its primary clients. What makes the PARS 6×6 and 8×8 so impressive isn’t just their mobility but a hydro-pneumatic suspension system allowing them to navigate across varied terrain better than older wheeled APCs such as the LAV/Piranha and even the BTR-series. The PARS 8×8 is also meant to be armed based on the end user’s requirements, whether it’s a turret for a medium caliber weapon or a 120mm mortar. As a mortar carrier the PARS 8×8 has enough space to fit the complete artillery piece inside its hull along with the ammunition.

The basic armament for the PARS 6×6 Scout is a .50 caliber machine gun on a remote weapon station. But FNSS can install a 25mm, 30mm, or 35mm cannon together with grenade launchers and machine guns on an unmanned turret if needed. A particularly lethal option is a pivoting launcher with two OMTAS ATGMs that each have a range of 4 kilometers. Turkish manufacturers know how to integrate non-standard weapons (like those made in Russia) on their vehicles too. The PARS 6×6’s exports are very promising since Turkey is committed to rebuilding the militaries of its newfound friends outside Europe. The needed mechanization and mobility of armies in distant countries such as Somalia and Qatar, not to mention existing clients in Southeast Asia, may open medium-term opportunities.

The PARS 8×8 and 6×6 do face competition from local rivals. The manufacturer BMC has a new wheeled armored transport of its own and Otokar’s impressive military catalog isn’t fading away soon.

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