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Quick Guide to Turkish Tanks


M60A3 tanks 


The Turkish Armed Forces posses the largest tank fleet in Europe, only dwarfed by the Russian reserve stocks beyond the Ural mountains. The Turkish fleet is a mixture of American and German armor with indigenous upgrades.

The Turkish active tank fleet is currently composed of:
- 354 Leopard 2A4 tanks
- 397 Leopard 1A3 tanks with 170 upgraded to Leopard 1T standard with new fire control system
- 932 M60 Pattons, out of which 104 are aging A1 variants, 658 are A3 TTS and 170 are fully modernized M60T Sabra-models, upgraded with Israeli technology.
- 758 M48 Pattons with an unknown distribution of M48A3 and M48A5T2 variants.

Out of these tank models the Leopard 2A4 and the M60T Sabra are the most capable ones. Both are clearly superior to the aging Soviet T-72, T-62 and T-55 tanks primarily fielded by the Syrian Arab Army. Both the Leopard 2A4 and M60T have roughly comparable 120 mm main guns, capable of knocking out all armor in the neighborhood.

Both the Leopard 1 and the M48 show their age in relatively thin armor and 105 mm guns. Their usability, especially in urban combat is highly limited, but they are still capable of defeating the older Soviet tank designs, provided that the crews are capable of utilizing the advantages of the vehicles. 

Leopard 2A4 (source:Xinhua)
M60 Sabra's flying the Turkish flags on antennas

The Leopard and Patton families can be identified from each other rather easily. The Leopards feature seven roadwheels opposed to the six found in M48 and M60. The turret of the Leopard 2 is also more rectangular with sharp edges as the Pattons sport more rounded shapes. While the Leopard 1T has a round turret the equipment racks at the rear square off the profile, which is also much lower than the profile of the Pattons.

Leopard 2A4

The Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 1T can be easily identified by the flat rectangular turret front of the Leopard 2A4 versus the sloped one on the Leopard 1T. The Leopard 1T hull also tapers in, while the Leopard 2A4 has distinctly straight hull sides.

Leopard 1T

The M48 and M60 tanks are very similar in appearance, but can be easily told apart if the roadwheels are visible. The M48 has five return rollers opposed to just three in the M60.

M60A3 Patton

M48 Patton

The M60T Sabra turret front has been redesigned by the Israelis and it bears a close resemblance to the Israeli Merkava series. The newer Leopard 2 tanks from A5 onwards also have somewhat similar turrets, but these are not in service in the region.

Turkey also boasts their indigenous Altay main battle tank, but as with the Russian Armata, they’ve so far remained as trailer queens mainly seen in the parades and trade shows.
Altay MBT

Beyond the main battle tanks, the most identifiable Turkish vehicles in the Middle-Eastern battlefields are the FNSS ACV-15 and it’s domestic derivatives serving in almost all possible roles. While reliable workhorses, they have proven to be vulnerable to the anti-tank weapons employed in the Syrian war.

ACV-15 IFV
The Turkish tank fleet is large and modern compared to the forces it's expected to fight. The biggest drawback is the training and tactics, that are required to employ these weapons effectively. During the previous Turkish incursions into Syria they've lost multiple tanks, mainly due to tactical errors. These problems may have been worsened by the recent putsches within the Turkish military leadership.


Here is a guide for the other side: the Syrian Army Army vintage Soviet armor

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