Turkey has faced various problems in mass production of the new Turkish Altay main battle tank.
Based on the article released by the BMPD blog
A program of serial production of the Turkish Altay main battle tank has faced new problems, after on February 24, the Defense Industry Executive Committee (Savunma Sanayii Mustesarligi – SSM) of the Turkish Defense Ministry canceled a contract with the Turkish Tumosan company on development and mass production of its own diesel engine for the Altay tank, the Jane’s Defence Weekly magazine reported.
In March 2015, Tumosan received a contract from the SSM, worth €190 million, on development of a diesel engine, capacity from 1500 to 1800 hp, for the Altay tank. In October 2015, the well-known Austrian AVL List GmbH company was chosen by Tumosan as a partner on the engine’s development and getting technologies. The Turkish side should have been an owner of full intellectual property rights and export rights to the engine. However, at the end of 2016, the Austrian government refused to provide AVL List the license for transfer of the technology to Turkey. This happened after in November, the Austrian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution, calling for an embargo on deliveries of weapons and military technologies to Turkey due to widespread human rights violations, committed by the Turkish government after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. As a result, in January 2017, Tumosan was forced to terminate the cooperation agreement with AVL List.
Tumosan admitted that tried to find a new partner for the development of a tank diesel among companies in the US, Canada, Germany, the UK, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Ukraine, but did not manage to reach any satisfactory conditions.
The first 250 serial Altay tanks should have been equipped with the German MTU diesel engines, which also were installed on the prototypes, however, in the future, the Turkish Defense Ministry intends to equip the tanks with Turkish-manufactured engines.
As the BMPD blog noted, the Tumosan’s program of development and production of a tank engine, capacity 1500-1800 hp, was very ambitious, as until now, the company produced only industrial and tractor diesel engines, capacity less than 115 hp.
BMPD emphasized that overall uncertainty in the program of start of series production of the Altay tank retains so far. At first, the main designer of the tank, the Otokar company, announced the completion of tank tests in the late autumn of 2016, and then, after military demanded additional tests, – at the end of February 2017. An author of the blog pointed out that in total, two demonstration models were built for at-sea testing and armament tests, as well as two complete prototypes of the Altay tank, the PV1 and the PV2, were created. However, the SSM continues to keep silence about the start of series production of the Altay.
In January, deputy head of the SSM, Ismail Demir, said that a decision to start serial production of the tank is delayed because tests of the Altay are still ongoing. The blogger supposed that in addition to the continuing problems with the tank’s fine-tuning, the slowness is informally explained with SSM’s intention to announce a tender on mass production of the Altay and, apparently, not in favor of Otokar. This is connected with long-known hostile relations between the owners of Istanbul’s Koc holding, which includes Otokar, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Earlier, Otokar, as the leading contractor in the development of the Altay tank, reasonably hoped that the company would also be the main manufacturer of the tank. However, now, in light of the SSM’s intentions to announce the tender for the Altay’s mass production, a possibility to get an order for the tank’s production seems not so real for Otokar. According to the blog, it is assumed that even if Otokar is not completely devoid of the contract for mass production, it will be forced to share the Altay’s mass production with other Turkish producers of armored vehicles that have expressed a desire to participate in the tender – the BMC, currently controlled by a businessman Ethem Sancak, who is very close to the Turkish President, and FNSS. The author of the blog stressed that if such a sharing of the mass production takes place, then it will be unprecedented in the practice of tank production in the country, which has no competence in this regard.
The first batch of the serial Altays should include 250 tanks, whose approximate contract value is $3.5 billion. In 2016, Otokar announced its readiness to start mass production within 18-22 months after getting of a lump sum contract. In February 2017, Otokar’s CEO Ali Koc said that the company spent $1 billion of its own funds on development and testing of the tank. It is considered that the Turkish Defense Ministry invested the same amount of money in the program.