By Paolo Valpolini
With its Arma 8×8 platform well established on the export market Otokar could not miss the opportunity to bid for the New Generation wheeled armoured vehicles programme for Turkish Land Forces (TLF). This programme was announced some years ago has since moved to the right, other acquisitions being considered having higher priority, hence wheeled APCs and IFVs designed a decade ago were not coping anymore with TLF requirements.
This was true also for the Arma 8×8, the four-axle version being the first one to be acquired by the TLF. At IDEF 2021 the company exhibited its 8×8 platform developed at a wholly new standard, fitted with Aselsan’s Korhan 35 mm turret system. Compared to the heaviest configuration of the Arma 8×8 produced until now, the Arma 8×8 NG in the IFV version has a mass that exceeds the previous one by over 5 tonnes, however the platform maintains the required growth potential, which was not disclosed. To cope with the increased GVW the engine was rated at a higher power output; the power pack remains based on the Caterpillar CT13 rated at 720 hp rather than the original 600 hp, which allows maintaining a considerable power-to-weight ratio. The Arma NG is fitted with a cold-start system, allowing operations down to -32°C.
The increased GVW is due not only to the addition of a much heavier turret, the Korhan has a mass of around 3.5 tonnes with Level 2 ballistic protection, but also to an increased hull protection against ballistic as well as mine and IED threats. The IED requirement is particularly stringent and it refers to the latest edition of STANAG 4569.
As combat in urban areas might become more and more common, agility in constrained spaces is a must, hence the decision to fit the vehicle with all steering axles (the previous Arma had only the two front axles steerable), the front couple ad the rear couple counter-steering in order to reduce to a minimum the turning radius, which is comparable to the length of the vehicle, that is around 8 meters. For safety reasons rear axles can be steered only under a defined speed. The driver position is fitted with periscopes and with a large colour screen where the images captured by the front day/night front optronic suite can be used also for operating the vehicle, as according to Otokar the latency is compatible with driving. A 360° situational awareness system is installed, providing all round view to the commander as well as to dismounts.
To provide enough electric power to operate all the systems the Arma NG is fitted with an powerful alternator, technical data not being provided at this stage due to competition sensitiveness, allowing greater battery charging power. Not only, the vehicle is fitted with an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), installed on the right side, while on the left we find the electric air conditioning module; the latter can be powered by the energy produced by the vehicle when on the move, as well as by the APU when stationary for long times, the APU also providing power to the turret and its sensors. It also allows to operate the rear ramp, which is fitted with an emergency door. Dismounts are seated on individual energy absorbing seats, four on each side in the rear pert of the compartment; on the right we find a fifth seat, for the team commander, while on the left we find the gunner operating the turret, with the driver in front of him. A CBRN overpressure system ensures protection against such threats, and can also be linked to the masks in case of need.
Otokar awaits the start of the mobility trials that will lead to the selection of the preferred bidder, but considers that all the work done might also open new doors on the export market.
Photos courtesy Otokar and P. Valpolini