FNSS Opens the Doors to a New Era: The Era of the PARS III Begins in the Royal Army of Oman
Continuing to be a centre of attention in the field of land vehicles, thanks both to its accomplishments in Turkey and the contracts it signs abroad, FNSS has delivered the first of the 172 vehicles it is developing and producing for the Royal Army of Oman, with a ceremony held in Ankara on July 12. The ceremony also witnessed the first delivery of the PARS III, the latest variant of the PARS vehicle family, along with the SABER-25 turret.
The timeline of the project – in which the first vehicle has been delivered in less than two years – initially began with the nearly $500 million contract signed with Oman on September 20, 2015. Within the framework of this programme covering the delivery of vehicles in various configurations, the common base vehicle concept design was first approved in May 2016. Following the approval of the design, the production of the first vehicle, an Armoured Personnel Carrier configuration PARS III 8×8 with a SABER-25 turret, was launched in the month of August of the same year, and its initial inspections were completed in June 2017. In September, the vehicle’s endurance tests and final acceptance phases will be conducted in Oman. Meanwhile, the tests for the first PARS III 6×6 Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle, whose production is currently underway and expected to be completed in August, are planned to be carried out and completed in September, while the final acceptance procedure of the vehicle is scheduled for November. All deliveries under the project are expected to be completed by May 2020.
The project covers the design, development, production, and delivery of a total of 172 vehicles in 13 different configurations, as well as the integrated logistics support (ILS) services to be provided during the guarantee period. While 145 of these vehicles will be PARS III 8×8 vehicles delivered in eight different configurations, the remaining 27 will be PARS III 6×6 vehicles delivered in five different configurations. The ILS services consist of two main items:
- Various spare parts, tool kits, trainings and training support materials, and
- Two years of free maintenance service, and additional support to be provided for four years.
Carrying out its activities with the aim of establishing long-term and permanent relations in the markets it enters, FNSS has, in addition to the ILS services it will provide within the context of the project contract, also signed another contract covering the logistics services it will provide for the vehicles during the next two decades.
Meeting a Considerable Portion of a Mechanised Infantry Regiment’s Needs
Given the number, equipment and range of missions of the vehicles FNSS will deliver within the context of the project, it would not be wrong to state, from the standpoint of the organisation/structure of mechanised infantry units in armies around the world, that these vehicles are, by themselves, fully capable of meeting a considerable portion of a mechanised infantry regiment’s need for the armoured vehicles. This is because the vehicles that will be in the front lines during combat with their 25 mm automatic cannons make up only half of the vehicles to be delivered, while the remaining armoured vehicles consist of command vehicles, engineer vehicles, ambulances, mortar carriers, radio relays, recovery vehicles, and training vehicles.
The combat vehicles consisting of the 8×8 Armoured Personnel Carrier and the 6×6 Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle, whose technical specifications are shown in Table 1, will be equipped with the FNSS-made SABER-25 one-man turret, while the other vehicles will be equipped with weapon systems and equipment according to the missions they will undertake. Thus, the number and variety of vehicles covered under the programme is sufficient to equip more than two maneuver battalions in a regiment, and to meet the armoured combat support vehicle needs of a whole regiment. The general specifications of the vehicles are provided in Table 2.
Table 1. Technical Specifications of the PARS III 8×8 and PARS III 6×6
Table 2. General Specifications of the Vehicles to be Delivered to the Royal Army of Oman
A New and Long Lasting Programme for FNSS
The ceremony held at the FNSS facilities in Gölbaşı, Ankara, was attended by His Excellency Qasim Mohammad Al Salhi, the Ambassador of Oman to Turkey; His Excellency Uğur Doğan, Former Ambassador of Turkey to Oman; Köksal Liman, Deputy Undersecretary for Defence Industries; as well as the delegation consisting of officials from the Royal Army of Oman and the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Defence; Turkish Armed Forces personnel; officials from the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries; and the project team.
The ceremony started with the presentation of Gökhan Tekin, Programme Manager at FNSS responsible for the Oman PARS III Programme. Tekin provided information on the project timeline and the vehicles to be delivered. K. Nail Kurt, the General Manager and CEO of FNSS, who took the floor after Tekin, shared the following thoughts about the PARS III: “For us, the PARS III is much more than just a vehicle. We see it as the product of 133,000 hours of engineering and 21,000 hours of labour. Our purchasing, quality and other supporting divisions may have even worked for longer hours. This vehicle also reflects many sleepless nights, and numerous meetings filled with long discussions and struggles. Ultimately, this vehicle is the embodiment of a perfect contractor-customer relation; and with it, we can see an expression, fully functioning and in the flesh, of what can be achieved when we cooperate towards a common goal. I have to emphasise that what made us overcome so many of the challenges and obstacles we faced was this common understanding.”
K. Nail Kurt
Kurt continued his speech as follows: “[This delivery] represents a very big milestone for the contract. Today is a very important day; but we don’t have the luxury to rest on our laurels. We cannot afford to become complacent because of this success. We know that we still have a lot more ground to cover until the completion of the contract. The process ahead of us, at a minimum, require as much focus, attention and extensive efforts as the preceding stages of our work; and we all are committed to achieving this.”
Kurt also gave the following hints about the projects they would like to conduct in Oman in the future: “When I look at this vehicle, I see a level of devotion that is longer and more comprehensive than the one envisaged by the contract. I see a kind of obligation that is not just limited to the current responsibilities of FNSS, but also extends to establishing in Oman a self-sufficient domestic industry… We have launched a project, for which we received positive responses from the very beginning, and our talks for this project are ongoing. We would like to transform this project into an investment and establishment in Oman, in cooperation with the State of Oman. We even wish to establish a domestic capability in Oman. I believe that we will reach consensus on this subject over the course of this year, and continue from that point on.”
Stressing that FNSS also assumes a pioneering role overseas, Kurt concluded his speech with the following words: “Finally, I would like to emphasise my view that FNSS’ success in this programme has also paved the way for other Turkish companies to enter the Oman market. I know that there are other programmes [in Oman], but this one is a very big project. We are well aware of this, and with this responsibility now on our shoulders we would like to transform this into an accomplishment that goes beyond the limits of this programme. I always say this, and will repeat it once again: We have seen this in other countries as well; after FNSS makes an entry [to these countries] and successfully completes the programmes in question, other companies and contractors in Turkey follow the path opened by FNSS, expanding the Turkish defence industry’s presence in these countries as well. My belief is that we will see the same in Oman. This is a very big task on our shoulders, and we will take action accordingly.”
FNSS PARS III 8×8
Oman is Open to New Collaborations
Following Kurt’s speech, Brigadier General Saif Mohammad Saif Al Sheedi, the Operations and Training Commander of the Royal Army of Oman, who attended the ceremony on behalf of the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Defence, took the floor and said: “For us, this step is an expression of all the efforts spent in creating this vehicle that meets all requirements of the Royal Army of Oman. As the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Defence, we are looking forward to other successful collaborations in the future.”
SSM Seeks to Increase Turkish Industry’s Presence in Oman Market
The final speech of the opening ceremony was delivered by Köksal Liman, Deputy Undersecretary for Defence Industries: “Having designed the PARS III based on strong ideals, FNSS stands as one of Turkey’s best land vehicle companies. There are many companies in Turkey, but FNSS enjoys a particularly strong position… We know full well that you have tested this vehicle under very challenging conditions, and we would like to thank you for subjecting it to such rigorous tests. Because this [vehicle] has restored our trust in our projects… During the presentation, I realised that this programme has also been the stage for numerous milestones. After the signing of the contract and the receiving of the advance payment, the vehicle was developed to its current form within two years, and its initial tests were completed in June. The [vehicle] has become yet another success story – the kind of stories which we have now grown accustomed to hear.”
Addressing the Oman delegation, Liman added: “As far as I understood from what Nail Bey said, you also have very strict requirements, which is great to hear. Such strict requirements and selection processes result in highly robust vehicles. In fact, Oman is one of the three countries we are focusing on in the region. We are waiting for an invitation from Oman so that we may establish stronger bonds with the Royal Army of Oman, the Royal Navy of Oman, and the Royal Air Force of Oman… From our point of view, cooperation between these two countries has not yet reached the levels we would hope to see. The current level of expenditures [between Turkey and Oman] make up approximately one percent of the two countries’ total defence expenditures. We are also working to increase this.”
Table 3. Technical Specifications of the SABER-25 Turret
The Special Purpose Tactical Wheeled Armoured Vehicles Procurement Project to Gain Speed
Finally, Liman emphasised the following points concerning the Special Purpose Tactical Wheeled Armoured Vehicles Procurement Project, conducted by the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM): “Unfortunately, we [as Turkey] are a bit behind Oman when it comes to selecting our own 8×8 vehicle. Currently, we have a very large scale ongoing project, which we are about to finalise. This programme [in Oman] will be a driving force for us, helping us make our own decision earlier.”
Following these speeches, K. Nail Kurt, General Manager and CEO of FNSS, and the Deputy Undersecretary Köksal Liman presented, in memory of this day, models of the vehicles to all those who contributed to the project. Brigadier General Saif Mohammad Saif Al Sheedi, the Operations and Training Commander of the Royal Army of Oman, also presented a commemorative item to K. Nail Kurt, after which the ceremony was concluded.
Nail Kurt, the General Manager and CEO of FNSS, and Köksal Liman, Deputy Undersecretary for Defence Industries.
Nail Kurt, the General Manager and CEO of FNSS, presented the keys of the first vehicle to Brigadier General Saif Mohammad Saif Al Sheedi, the Operations and Training Commander of the Royal Army of Oman.
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