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Turkey invites five companies to bid on Altay MBT engine development
February 22, 2018
Altay. Photo source: Otokar

Turkey invites five companies to bid on Altay MBT engine development

Turkey’s government procurement agency the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) announced that five Turkish companies have responded to the SSM’s bid to develop an indigenous powertrain for the Otokar Altay main battle tank (MBT).

The Daily Sabah reports that BMC Automotive Industry and Trade Inc., TÜMOSAN Engine and Tractor Industry Inc., Istanbul Marine Shipbuilding Industry and Trade Inc., Figes Physics and Geometry Computer Simulation Trade Inc., and TUSAŞ Motor Sanayii A.Ş (TEI) responded to the SSM’s request-for-proposals (RFP).

This is the SSM’s second attempt at a national diesel engine program for the Altay MBT. Initially, the SSM had contracted TÜMOSAN to secure the requisite expertise and technical support to execute the program.

Notes & Comments:

TÜMOSAN had contracted the Austrian firm AVL List GmbH, but that contract fell through because of the Austrian government’s push to place conditions on its exports to Turkey. TÜMOSAN was unable to secure an alternate partner, citing the reluctance of supplier governments to provide transfer-of-technology and, in some cases, also requiring export licenses on subcomponents available commercially-off-the-shelf.[1]

In March, the SSM had cancelled its contract with TÜMOSAN. Subsequently, the SSM decided that it would be prudent for any future engine development program to guarantee that all subcomponents are free of external intellectual property and regulatory restrictions. The renewed powerplant program will see the Turkish industry develop critical components, such as the hydrostatic steering unit, turbocharger, cooling package, alternator, transmission pumps and others.[2]

Defense News reports that the Altay MBT engine program could be worth over $1 billion U.S. (the given figure likely includes the cost of serial production as well). Currently, the Altay is powered by a 1,500 hp diesel engine from Germany’s MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH. The MTU engine is to equip the Turkish Army’s first 250 Altay MBTs. The SSM has yet to issue the serial production contract for these tanks, but Otokar (which designed the Altay), FNSS Savunma Sistemleri A.Ş. and BMC are competing for the contract.

The national tank engine program is integral to the SSM’s goal of exporting the Altay MBT. Slotted as the next-generation MBT of the Turkish Army, the SSM believes the Altay is a sophisticated and capable asset for high-value exports. The Altay has been pitched to Turkey’s key markets, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Pakistan. Weighing 65 tons, the Altay is armed with a 120mm smoothbore gun and two secondary weapons, including 12.7mm heavy machine gun and remote-controlled turret.

[1] “Contract for National Powerpack Development Project Terminated.” MSI Turkish Defence Review. March 2017

[2] Ibid.

  • Joseph

    I thought Otokar was developing an electric engine for Altay, is that still going?

    • Haven’t heard anything about it as of late.

      • Joseph

        Man, an all electric battle tank would have been cool. Could be the world’s first, something for Turkey to show off.

        If Elon Musk ever goes into military technology there would have been electric tanks and possibly drones already.

    • Türker Demircan

      It was an idea 4-5 years before, but that’s all..Not any R&D or awarded Project

    • mh1975

      an electric engine for a tank is a crazy idea, moving a 70 tonne vehicle around will need battries the size of a bus

      • Joseph

        The thing is Elon Musk just unveiled a electric truck (Tesla Semi) capable of traveling 804 kilometers on an electric charge — even with a full 36 ton load (most MBTs are about 40 ~ 60 tons), so the technology is there.

        • James Graham III

          The semi only goes 600 miles. And Tesla has yet to prove it can actually go that far. Add to that, most MBTs are usually 50+ tons. Also the Tesla semi is wheeled. Tanks are tracked. Tracks increase friction by ten fold meaning alot of torque would be needed. Diesel beats electric in torque, every time.

          • Joseph

            Now a lot of newer naval ships start using integrated electric propulsion, such as Zumwalt class destroyer (US), Type 055 destroyer (China), Type-45 destroyer and HMS Queen Elizabeth (UK is pioneer of the technology, HMS Queen Elizabeth also claims to be the first carrier using integrated electric propulsion, which means even the new US Ford super carrier is not), in which fuel is used to generate electricity and electricity then will power the electric motors turning either propellers or waterjet impellors, that is an increasing tread. Now how much do you think those naval ships weight and how much torque do you think those electric motors have?

            The main thing limiting electric vehicles is the battery in term of both cost and capacity, but battery technology is advancing fast and getting increasingly cheaper.

          • Steve

            Marine Integrated electric propulsion is more efficient as you don’t have to mechanically transfer power to the screws. Also adds redundancy as you can run quad cables, so if one is destroyed ship still runs. The primary power source is not battery but a engine run on conventional fuel like gas turbine or diesel generators or possibly nuclear. It also reduces acoustic signature as no shaft or gearbox and also you can place engine anywhere, not in line with screws. Marine propulsion is different concept from electric cars which run on battery like Tesla.

          • Joseph

            James was saying that electric engines would be weak, I used the integrated electric propulsion as an example to make the point that if electric motors could be used to power a 70,000 ton naval carrier (HMS Queen Elizabeth), surely they could power 50 ton tanks.

          • Steve

            I agree but your example is not really applicable to tanks. Still a reasonable concept if batteries improve to the extent of getting range and torque from electric motors. Combo with diesel to recharge on the move like hybrid cars is possibly more viable but then I’m not an engineer.

  • Türker Demircan

    Those Companies only have taken RFP doc from SSM, not submitted proposals yet…Deadline for proposal submission is 22 Dec but %99 it will be extended

  • Hamid

    Should be TEI (Tusaş engine industries inc.) not TAI and I think they will win the bid, TEI will design the engine and Tülomsaş will produce it. My favorites are as follows:

    1: TEI with Tülomsaş
    2: BMC Power (they created a very strong design / R&D team and they won the 605kW powerpack design bid last month)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mB7iyzQinA

    3: Tümosan (they are the most experienced team on diesel engines and transmissions and I think, they have a chance again)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5jM5AdkNa8

    4: Figes (they can support the winning group)
    5: Istanbul Marine

  • mh1975

    this is good news, once developed an engine opens up the numerous other development opportunities as its often the most difficult step in the development of family of vehicles

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