Turkey’s defence minister Fikri Işık announced that the Altay main battle tank (MBT) could enter full-scale production in May.
As per Turkey’s state-owned news agency Anadolu Agency, Defence Minister Işık said, “We will push the button on mass production in May. We will have a decision about Altay tank’s mass production in May if nothing goes wrong.”
The Altay MBT passed its qualification tests in February, at which point Otokar announced that the Altay was ready for full-scale production for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). The Turkish Army is committed to procuring 250 Altay MBTs, which it should begin receiving in 2020.
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Otokar is competing with FNSS Savunma Sistemleri A.Ş. and BMC for the TSK Altay contract. The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) also intends to export the Altay and had listed Pakistan and the Gulf Arab powers as prospective customers. Otokar currently has a U.S. $661 million contract to supply Rabdan – i.e. customized Arma – 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles to the United Arab Emirates.
Turkey’s export plans hit an obstacle earlier this year when Tümosan, which had been contracted by the SSM to produce a domestic diesel engine for the Altay, was unable to maintain its contract with Austria’s AVL List GmbH, which it had as a technical support partner. Following Tümosan inability to secure another partner, the SSM terminated its engine development contract.
However, in March, the Turkish government was apparently able to get Kiev’s tentative support, which may see Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB) offer its 1,500 hp 6TD-3 diesel engine. Ultimately, the SSM would aim for a domestically sourced engine, not only to support its exports, but to guarantee supplies to the Turkish Army in the long-term as well.