Turkish Armed Forces Receive 6 More FIRTINA-II 155 mm Self-Propelled Howitzers From BMC

Six New Generation Fırtına (FIRTINA-II) Howitzers, equipped with new capabilities by BMC Defense, were delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces with a ceremony held at the company’s facility in Sakarya. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attended the ceremony, as did the Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar, the Deputy Minister of Defense, Muhsin Dere, the Chief of General Staff, General Yaşar Güler, and the Commander of the Land Forces, General Musa Avsever.

Speaking at the ceremony, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stated that the Fırtına (Storm) howitzers provided the Turkish Land Forces with substantial fire superiority. “Our valiant artillery uses Fırtna howitzers effectively on the battlefield in the counter-terrorism operation. Given the operational experience, efforts to provide these howitzers with additional capabilities based on advanced technology continue unabated,” The Minister ended his speech by saying, “I would like to thank and congratulate all the employees of our factory, especially BMC Defense, who contributed to the realization of the Fırtına howitzers and related systems, from their design to their production, and to all employees of our factory who shed their sweat.”

President Erdogan wished that the six new generation Storm howitzers that were delivered would be beneficial to the nation and the army. “We will increase this number to 140 in total with new deliveries in the coming period,” said Erdogan, adding: “The new generation Storm howitzers have many advantages compared to the models currently in the inventory. As a result of the studies carried out, our howitzers’ survivability and firepower have been increased.” Ergodan went on to list some of the upgrades made to the vehicles including a new generation fire control, automatic loading, driver’s vision, automatic fire extinguishing, air-conditioning, a SARP remote-control weapon station, refurbished track suspension equipment, and a new generation auxiliary power group. “All of these systems that increase the power of our Fırtına howitzers reduce our reliance on foreign sources” Ergodan noted, concluding that “I am hopeful that we will be able to complete the engine and transmission localization activities that we have been working on for some time within the next two years.”

The FIRTINA II is a self-propelled howitzer based on the T-155 FIRTINA Howitzer, which is currently in the Turkish Land Forces Command’s inventory and has proven itself in operations such as Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, Peace Spring, and Spring Shield. The mass production of 140 New Generation Storm (FIRTINA-II) Self-Propelled Howitzers began in 2018. According to the Aselsan 2017 Annual Report, the test-fire of the Howitzer, whose prototype tests were completed in 2017, were completed successfully in 2018. The first batch of three FIRTINA-II Howitzers was delivered to the Turkish Land Forces Command on January 23, 2021, as part of the project. There has been no new delivery news reported to the public since the first delivery. Authorities stated that some countries’ obstructive attitudes in the supply of engines and transmissions from abroad contributed to the delays experienced during the Mass Production Project process.

The first batch of 3 Fırtına-II self-propelled howitzers delivered on January 23, 2021 / From the Turkish Ministry of National Defense

It is unknown whether the 9 FIRTINA-II Howitzers delivered to the Turkish Land Forces so far use the Allison X1100-5A3 Automatic Transmission paired with the MTU MB-881 KA-500 Engine, or the so-called “Turkish Power Group” consisting of 1 AVDS-1790-9A Diesel Engine from RENK America Combat Propulsion Systems and the X1100TM-5A4 Automatic Transmission developed by Allison Transmission. But from Ergodan’s comments it sounds like this is still in development.

An image from a demonstration of the driving and capabilities of the FIRTINA-II self-propelled howitzer / From the Turkish Ministry of National Defense

FIRTINA-II stands out as a platform with far more modern systems than the T-155 FIRTINA Howitzer. Aselsan integrated an Electrically Driven Servo-Controlled Gun and Turret System, a Fire Control System, and a Fully Automatic Ammunition Loading System into the vehicle. The 48-ton vehicle measures 13.1 meters in length and 3.4 meters in width. The 155/52 caliber T-155 FIRTINA-II can use any NATO standard 155mm howitzer ammunition as its main weapon and is operated by a team of five people. Depending on the ammunition, the T-155 Fırtına has a maximum firing range of 40 kilometers. FIRTINA can fire at a target in 30 seconds and complete the fire mission and relocation in 90 seconds after receiving the fire command. The system’s continuous firing rate, which can fire three shots in the first 15 seconds, is two rounds per minute. Furthermore, Fırtına-II, which has the capacity to move in all kinds of terrain, can easily navigate thanks to its suspension system, which consists of 12 hydro-pneumatic suspension units and wheels.