Turkish Tank Crew Saved by Israeli Armor

A Turkish tank, upgraded by IMI Systems, has survived a 'Kornet' missile strike launched by ISIS in Iraq

Turkish Tank Crew Saved by Israeli Armor

A photograph that was presumably released by a Turkish military source to counter the Islamic State's claim that it destroyed a Turkish tank at Bashiqah. The image shows a M60T tank that has been damaged, but not destroyed. (unknown)

A Turkish M60T – a version of the US-made tank upgraded by Israeli Military Industries (IMI) – has apparently survived being hit by the latest Russian infantry portable anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) system. This, according to a report on janes.

The attack was seen in a video released by the Islamic State militant group on 19 April and showed a man firing a 9K129 Kornet ATGW towards a tank on a hilltop position. The missile hit its target, but the tank was not seen exploding or burning.

The Islamic State said the target was a Turkish tank deployed to Bashiqah, 30 km to the northeast of Mosul city in northern Iraq. The Turkish military presence at Bashiqah and several other locations in Iraq was revealed in December 2015, prompting Baghdad to demand that Turkey withdraw all its troops from its territory.

Ankara ignored the demand, stating that the base at Bashiqah had been established to train a militia to help expel the Islamic State from Mosul.

Later on 19 April, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported a military source as saying that the Islamic State carried out an attack on a M60 tank at Bashiqah. The source said the tank had been slightly damaged and there were no casualties in the camp. Turkish forces returned fire, killing 32 Islamic State fighters.

A photograph emerged on social media purportedly showing the tank that was hit in the attack. The tank was an M60T in a hull-down defensive position with much of the applique armor fitted to the front right side of its turret blown away. The underlying armor did not appear to have been penetrated.

The M60T is an M60A1 that has been upgraded with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, a new fire-control system, a more powerful engine and transmission, and hybrid armor (both active and passive) over its frontal arc.

Turkish tank upgrade project

The Turkish tank upgrade project was signed in March 2002, for US $687.5 million. In accordance with the agreement, IMI had upgraded 170 tanks. The upgrade of the Turkish Army involved its infrastructure and personnel, as well as the transfer of knowledge needed for the production of some of the tank systems to local defense industries.

The goal of the project was to upgrade the obsolete platform of the US M60A1 tank (made in the 1960's) into a modern weapon system, including the integration of advanced "tankionics", propulsion, firepower and armor systems. These systems are already integrated successfully in the Main Battle Tanks (MBT) of the IDF. They are based on the military and technology experience that accumulated in the Israeli Defense establishment, as well as in IMI and other Israeli defense industries for decades, as part of the Merkava project.

The project, which ended successfully after eight years of operation, has received the support of the Ministry of Defense. As part of the upgrade, all the main systems of the original tank were replaced with advanced, modern systems, as follows: Firepower – a 120 mm cannon, as well as advanced fire control and turret systems. Armor – hybrid armor system that has been proven in comprehensive experiments. Mobility – a modern 1000HP engine and transmission, final drive and an innovative continuous track.

The result is a high performance tank, with equal capabilities of some of the world's leading MBTs. Elbit systems was the primary subcontractor in the project. Dozens of other subcontractors were involved in the project, including the Israeli companies Urdan and Orlite, and the German companies MTU and RENK. A unique collaboration took place with the Turkish industries Aselsan and MKE, which included the transfer of knowledge needed for manufacture and maintenance.

The upgraded tank was approved for serial production after a long series of rigorous tests in Israel and Turkey, carried out by Turkish teams with the support of the military industry.

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