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Turkish government cancels Altay engine contract with Tümosan
May 23, 2019
The Altay main battle tank is at the center of Turkey's armour modernization roadmap. With up to 1000 units planned for the Turkish Army, the Altay is shaping up to be a very advanced and capable system. Photo credit: Otokar

Turkish government cancels Altay engine contract with Tümosan

The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) terminated its Altay main battle tank (MBT) engine development contract with Tümosan. The cancellation came following Tümosan’s failure to secure a new design and development partner to replace AVL List GmbH from Austria.

In January 2017, Tümosan was required to cancel its contract with AVL List GmbH due to Turkey’s concerns with emerging political and regulatory issues in Austria, namely the Austrian government’s insistence on issuing export licenses with conditions.

In its statement on the Turkish Public Disclosure Platform (KAP), Tümosan cited reluctance from supplier governments to transfer technology and intellectual property and Turkey’s post-coup political events as major challenges to its ability to secure a new partner.

Notes & Comments:

The SSM had intended to secure a domestic engine (with export licensing rights) to propel exports of its Altay MBT. While this initiative has seen a setback, the Turkish Army will proceed with its current plan of 250 Altay MBTs powered by German MTU 1,500 hp diesel engines. Otokar, BMC and FNSS are competing for the production contract (note: Otokar was the original development partner).

In terms of export, Turkey will need to secure export licenses from MTU (and by extension, the German government). Generally, these licenses would be released on a case-by-case basis, but this is far from the absolute control the SSM had intended to acquire through the Tümosan-AVL List GmbH deal from March 2015. SSM was hoping to market the Altay MBT to its emerging buyers in the Arab Gulf and Pakistan.

That said, some prospective markets – such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – could defer to their respective ties with Ukraine to secure an alternate 1,500 hp diesel engine. Pakistan is planning to procure 200 6TD-2 1,200 hp diesel engines for a new tranche of al-Khalid 1s, and it reportedly even signed an agreement to produce parts for the 6TD-series during the 2017 International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which took place in Abu Dhabi in February.

The 1,500 hp 6TD-3 is likely a candidate for the al-Khalid 2 MBT, and Pakistan could, theoretically at least, extend that engine to the Altay (assuming its interest in the Altay is genuine or still in place). In another sense, while Turkey may be unable to manufacture the 6TD-3, it could enter into a partnership with the Malyshev Plant whereby the Ukrainian vendor becomes the engine supplier for export-grade Altay MBTs.