ANKARA, Turkey — Armor industry manufacturers from Turkey, Germany and Malaysia have joined forces in an effort to expand into local and external markets.
Turkey's BMC, Germany's Rheinmetall AG and the Malaysia-based Etika Strategi announced that they launched a Turkey-based joint venture with a view to cooperation in armored solutions.
The companies said that the joint venture would focus on wheeled and tracked armored vehicles.
"This will be a joining of forces aiming at the Turkish, Gulf, Malaysian and other Asian markets, with quite a long-term vision," an industry source in Turkey said.
He said that the deal may also mean Rheinmetall may partner with BMC in Turkey's multibillion-dollar contract for the production of hundreds of new-generation main battle tanks under the indigenous program dubbed the Altay.
"But apparently this [deal] aims more than the Altay contract," he said. "It looks more international than local."
BMC will be one of the bidders in a deal for the serial production of the Altay, Turkey's first indigenous battle tank. The program will involve the production of 1,000 tanks with an initial batch of 250.
The Altay was developed by Otokar, a rival of BMC. The Turkish government commissioned Otokar to build four Altay prototypes under a $500 million program. The tanks are now undergoing field tests.
BMC's owner, businessman Ethem Sancak is known to be a close friend of Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Earlier this year, BMC was given land to relocate its plant. The government decided to allocate 222 hectares to the company in support of its expansion plans. BMC will relocate from Izmir on Turkey's western coast to Sakarya.