Ukraine introduces new 1500hp diesel engine for tanks
March 5, 2024
The Oplot-M main battle tank. Photo credit - KMDB

Ukraine introduces new 1500hp diesel engine for tanks

Ukraine’s State Enterprise Malyshev Plant, a state-owned manufacturer of heavy industrial machinery, has recently revealed a new 1500hp diesel engine for use on existing and new main battle tanks (MBT). The new 1500hp engine is reportedly derived from the fairly well adopted 6TD-series, which is in use with the Pakistan Army’s al-Khalid series of MBTs.

Comment and Analysis

For Ukraine’s defence industry, the availability of an exportable 1500hp engine is a very welcome addition. In fact, a 1500hp power-rating has essentially become the standard for new MBT designs; the Hyundai Rotem K2 Black Panther, NORINCO VT-4, and Otokar Altay, among others. Given how proactive Turkey has been in recent months with securing joint-development and production agreements with Ukraine, it will be worth seeing if this new engine could make its way into the hands of Otokar and FNSS.

In a previous piece, we suggested that Pakistan could consider producing the 6TD-series of engines under license; the design could be scaled across thousands of al-Khalid and Haider-based designs over the next several decades. The fact that a 1500hp engine is available bodes well for the idea, especially if it manages to operate well in Pakistan’s diverse operational conditions. In such a scenario, the Haider program could also be impacted (by resulting in serious consideration of the Oplot-M or a heavily customized VT-4). Besides new tanks, Pakistan could theoretically retrofit existing designs, such as the al-Khalid, with the more powerful powerplant.

This is an assumption our part, but today could be the right time to try and secure a manufacturing plant for the 6TD line (1200hp and 1500hp). Ukraine’s precarious economic and political situation is a concern, but its technology base cannot be ignored; Pakistan could have meaningful latitude in securing licensed manufacturing rights at a relatively attractive cost.

The engine would enable the Pakistan Army to comfortably source its various tank designs – it would have limited concern of supply-side restrictions, especially in the long-term. It may also enhance Pakistan’s ability to export tanks as well (more so in the long-term when designs such as the al-Khalid 2 make an appearance). But the emphasis should be on having an engine available that is fully suited for Pakistan’s intrinsic needs without supply-side restrictions.