According to BMC Otomotiv Sanayi ve Ticaret (BMC), the Turkish manufacturer awarded by the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) in 2018 to produce the Altay main battle tank (MBT), the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will operate the tank within 24 months.
Speaking at the 10th Istanbul Finance Summit, BMC’s board chairman Ethem Sancak said (via state-owned Anadolu Agency) that the fully indigenous version of the Altay MBT – i.e., equipped with a domestic engine and other subsystems – will be ready for production in 48 months, i.e., by 2023.
The TSK is currently slated to take delivery of 250 Altay MBTs, but its requirements cover up to 1,000 tanks in four batches of 250 tanks each. BMC won the bid to mass produce the Altay over Otokar, a rival Turkish armoured vehicles manufacturer, in May 2018. BMC is also responsible for the development of the engine.
In 2016 and 2017, the Altay MBT had gone through production obstacles, primarily due to the availability of its engine. Though licensed for sale to the TSK, the current MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH powerplant will require third-party export licenses from Berlin.
To Ankara, which has had a tenuous relationship with its subsystem suppliers in the US and Europe, this dependency was likely to hamper its efforts to export the Altay MBT. In March 2019, Qatar signed on as the first export customer of the Altay with an order of 100 tanks.
In 2015, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (now the Presidency of Defense Industries or SSB) awarded Tümosan a contract to develop an indigenous engine. Tümosan opted to work with Austria’s AVL List GmbH. However, the Austrian government insisted on attaching certain conditions to AVL List’s work with Tümosan, which then resulted in the SSB cancelling its contract with Tümosan.
In 2017, the SSB opted to localize the engine development process, and in turn, selected BMC to manage the work (in addition to its work of manufacturing the Altay MBT).
The Altay is a 65-ton MBT. Relying on a 1,500 hp powerplant, it is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore main gun as well as two secondary armaments, which include a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and a remote-controlled weapon station.