In the latest of successful deals, a Turkish defense firm has landed a new contract to provide 118 armored vehicles to Kenya, expanding its footprint in Africa.
“Our tactical wheeled armored 4x4 vehicle Hızır has been hailed all over Africa. Our expansion in the African market continues,” said Furkan Katmerci, the deputy chairperson of the defense contractor Katmerciler.
The company was cited as telling Anadolu Agency (AA) that the new armored vehicle will be unveiled alongside a new military Turkish vehicle that has never been seen before at the 15th International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF) in Istanbul in August.
Katmerci said Kenya will be the third country in the world to acquire Katmerciler’s armored vehicles, adding that the firm aims to complete the delivery over two years.
“We also have work in different markets in the defense industry – export needs patience. You spend at least 1.5-2 years of effort. In the end, it either happens or it doesn’t. The process in Kenya was as we wanted,” he said.
The fully indigenous Hızır is a 400-horsepower vehicle, which provides high protection against mines and handmade explosives. It was produced for conflict conditions with high maneuverability and ballistic fortification.
It was designed to perform well under conditions of intense conflict in rural and urban areas, providing high-level protection.
Having been developed to meet NATO standards and successfully passing all performance and explosion tests, the vehicle was approved by an independent international testing organization.
“We believe our exports will continue to rise as more of our vehicles are used in Africa and their visibility increases,” Katmerci said.
Katmerciler exported a total of 989 vehicles and related equipment around the world last year, according to company data.
Kenya Defense Forces spokesperson Zipporah Kioko said in January that the country is focused on ensuring the survivability of its troops deployed in the fight against al-Shabab militants from Somalia, thus the need to procure the 118 high-performance armored personnel carriers (APCs).
“The Kenyan Army thus made a critical assessment and established that the contemporary operating environment has evolved significantly with major threats to the APCs being Vehicle Borne IEDs (VBIEDs), directional IEDs and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) reinforced with complex ambushes,” said Kioko.
She added that from a pool of three firms that bid to supply Kenya with APCs, only Katmerciler’s Hızır met all the requirements, beating two contenders from South Africa and North America.
The Somali-based al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabab militants have been targeting security officers patrolling the Kenyan-Somali border.