Turkey has sought engine and transmission from two South Korean companies for its Altay Main Battle Tank (MBT) after its plans to import these systems from Germany suffered a setback due to political differences with Berlin.
In addition, armor for the tank which were supposed to be procured from a French firm too would be denied to it following the recent clash with France over its hydrocarbons exploration in the Mediterranean Sea. Paris has weighed in on the side of Greece, Defense News reported Thursday.
Both these issues have caused major setback to the Altay tank project for which it seeking to equip not only its own forces but also export it to Indonesia.
“This program has faced major delays due to failed access to significant components like the engine, transmission and armor,” a procurement official told Defense News. “I am not in a position to give a date for the start of serial production. All I know is we are trying hard to get it moved ahead.”
The Turks had earlier hoped to power the Altay with the German MTU engine and RENK transmission. Talks with German manufacturers over the past couple of years failed due to a federal arms embargo on Turkey, imposed for its involvement in the Syrian Civil War.
The Altay program is broken into two phases: T1 and T2. T1 covers the first 250 units, and T2 involves the advanced version of the tank. Turkey also plans to eventually produce 1,000 Altays, to be followed by an unmanned version.
In an October 2019 speech, Ethem Sancak — a senior shareholder in BMC, which makes the Altay — said the tank would be fielded within 24 months. Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) had signed a deal in 2018 with BMC for design, development, prototype production, testing and qualification of the ALTAY Main Battle Tank Power Group consisting of diesel engine with 1,500 horsepower and cross drive transmission. The current status of this project is not known.
The source added that BMC is in talks with Hyundai Rotem and two other South Korean defense companies: engine-maker Doosan and S&T Dynamics, to solve Altay-related problems. “We are hoping our talks will eventually sort out the problems regarding the power pack — [the engine and transmission — that] we will use in the serial production cycle. We are probably talking about another couple of months of talks before we know which way we are headed.”
“Ideally a Doosan-S&T power pack will power the Altay if we can iron out differences and licensing issues,” he noted.