BMC says it won Turkish Government bid for Altay MBT engine
March 3, 2024
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

BMC says it won Turkish Government bid for Altay MBT engine

The Chairman of Turkish auto-manufacturer BMC, Ethem Sancak, reportedly stated that BMC won the bid to develop the diesel engine for the Altay main battle tank (MBT). Sancak made the announcement at a conference organized by MÜSİAD (Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association).

According to Sancak, BMC is working on an engine series from 400 hp to 1,500 hp, but it is attempting to develop an engine with an output of 5,000 hp.

In November 2017, the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) received bids from five local companies to undertake Altay MBT engine development following the collapse of a previous effort, then led by TÜMOSAN Engine and Tractor Industry Inc.

Besides BMC Automotive Industry & Trade Inc., Turkish companies TÜMOSAN, TUSAŞ Motor Sanayii A.Ş (TEI), Istanbul Marine Shipbuilding Industry and Trade Inc. and Figes Physics and Geometry Computer Simulation Trade Inc. also responded to the SSM’s bid.

The SSM had originally contracted TÜMOSAN to develop the engine. In turn, TÜMOSAN had signed on the Austrian company AVL List GmbH to provide technical support.

However, Austria sought to impose certain conditions – i.e. effectively curbing the prospective of transfer-of-technology and third-party export licenses – and had prompted TÜMOSAN to terminate the contract. TÜMOSAN was unable to secure another partner, forcing SSM to cancel that program.

Under the new engine development program, the winner – i.e. BMC – will be tasked to internally develop a series of critical components, such as turbocharger, cooling package, alternator and hydrostatic steering unit.[1] If successful, this engine will supplant the MTU powerplant currently being used by the Altay.

However, with BMC apparently developing an entire series – i.e. from 400 hp to 1,500 hp – of engines, it appears that the aim is to end reliance on all foreign powerplants, such as those used for infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and armoured fighting vehicles.

Considering that this is a SSM program (contracted to BMC), development of the engine need not mean serial production. For example, the SSM had contracted Otokar to develop the Altay MBT, but it has yet to award any Turkish company the serial production contract for the Altay.

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