IDEF 2023 – FNSS: delivering on time and looking at new opportunities

Paolo Valpolini

At IDEF 2023 FNSS, the Turkish defence manufacturer owned 51% by Nurol Holding of Turkey and 49% by BAE Systems, unveiled some new technologies and exhibited its large portfolio, many of those vehicles being currently under delivery to national or export customers

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Seen for the first time at IDEF 2023 the PARS Scout 8×8 Special Purpose Vehicle: this and the 6×6 version are currently in the Phase 1 of the programme, the prototypes of the five different variants undergoing qualification tests in the hands of the national customers, which are the Turkish Land Forces and to the Gendarmerie. The overall order is for 100 vehicles, that on display in the FNSS stand being the armoured personnel carrier variant, the only one to be adopted by the Jandarma. It is fitted with an Aselsan Nefer remotely operated turret armed with a 25 mm cannon produced by TR Mekatronik, most of the mission equipment installed on the different variants being provided by Aselsan. The APC version will be produced in small numbers, the same applying to the CBRN variant, also on an 8×8 chassis. According to FNSS this will definitely be the most challenging, considering the integration of the many sensors and sampling systems required. The other variant based on an 8×8 chassis is the Electro-Optic Reconnaissance Vehicle, which will also be that produced in the bigger numbers. In terms of production volumes this will be followed by the Command and Control variant and by the Radar variant, the two latter vehicles being based on a 6×6 chassis. With the exception of the APC variant seen at IDEF, all other variants will be delivered to the Turkish Land Forces.

Heavily based on the PARS III, the prototypes will start tests in the last quarter of 2023, tests duration being estimated at around six months in order to reach qualification. Phase 2 will be the Low Rate Initial Production that will quickly leave place o Phase 3 that is serial production, final deliveries being planned by the end of 2024 or in the first quarter of 2025.

Absent to the show the latest iteration of the PARS 8×8, seen in 2021 and aimed at the New Generation Armoured Combat Vehicle for the Turkish Land Forces; the reason is simply that both prototypes are busy in evaluation trials with the customer.

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The same national customer started showing some interest in a Light Tank concept; FNSS developed the Kaplan MT for Indonesia and this might well fulfil that role, although in export wording it is defined as “MT” for medium tank. The Kaplan MT programme was initiated by a government-to-government contract between Turkey and Indonesia, the development contract being filed to FNSS in 2015. In September 2023 the Indonesian Army will receive the first 10 tanks, known as Harimau in the Asian country, which chassis were manufactured and assembled in the FNSS facility in Ankara. These were then shipped to Indonesia where PT Pindad integrated the John Cockerill turret armed with the 105 mm gun, the turrets being acquired directly by Indonesia thus becoming de-facto Government Furnished Equipment together with other subsystems. FNSS also delivered eight kits that are currently being assembled with the technical support of the Turkish manufacturer. Their delivery is planned in mid-2024.

These will all serve in one battalion based in Sumatra; FNSS understands that the Indonesian Army needs more Harimau, and expects some follow-on orders that will be filed when the budget will become available.

In the mean time the Turkish company is leveraging the development work done on the Kaplan MT to develop a family of vehicles that will include a recovery variant, which will maintain the rear engine configuration, as well as a 30 tonnes armoured personnel carrier and a command and control variants, both with the engine located at the front while maintaining many components and subsystems of the medium tank.

A number of countries have expressed interest in the Kaplan MT, among them Turkey, although the national customer has not yet issued a Request for Information. At IDEF 2023 the vehicle exhibited was a company prototype that was fitted with the Aselsan Pulat active protection system, already adopted by the Turkish Land Forces on its upgraded M60s. FNSS considers its medium tank a good candidate for a possible bid, no indication on a possible turret being yet available.

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From Land Forces to the Navy, the FNSS Zaha amphibious vehicle is now operational and started its operational life in the hands of the Turkish Navy Amphibious Forces, and the vehicle already started operations from the new Turkish Navy landing helicopter dock (LHD) TCG Anadolu, FNSS will deliver the last of the 27 vehicles, 23 of which are personnel carriers, 2 command and control vehicles and 2 recovery vehicles, in September 2023. According to the company the first feedback are very positive; the warranty period will be used to fine-tune the logistic requirements in order to prepare an offer for an Integrated Logistic Support contract that should be filed when the warranty will expire.

In the mean time FNSS is looking at a second order from the Turkish Navy when the service will start the acquisition procedures for a second LHD that should be named TCG Trakya. In the mean time three-four potential international customers have shown interest in the Zaha, the vehicle having some growth potential as not all the payload has been yet fully exploited.

Photos by P. Valpolini