ANKARA, Turkey — BMC, a privately owned Turkish armored vehicles manufacturer, has set out to design, develop and produce an indigenous engine for the Altay, Turkey’s first indigenous, new-generation tank in the making.
Ethem Sancak, BMC’s boss, told a conference that the country’s defense procurement agency has tasked the company with developing a locally made engine between 400 horsepower and 1,500 horsepower. But Sancak added that BMC will try to develop an engine up to 5,000 horsepower, something for which work has already commenced.
He said more than 200 scientists, of whom 70 are foreigners, are now working on the program.
Last year, five Turkish companies responded to the government’s request for proposal for an ambitious program for the development of a power pack for the main battle tank Altay. The power pack program involves the design, development and production of hundreds of engines and transmission mechanisms for the Altay.
The bidders were BMC, Figes, Istanbul Denizcilik, Tusas Engine Industries and Tumosan.
The country’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, or SSM, has selected BMC for the work.
BMC is a Turkish-Qatari armored vehicles manufacturer and one of the bidders in the competition for the serial production of the Altay.
The Altay program involves an initial batch of 250 units, but the number of tanks Turkey could purchase will likely go up to 1,000 units.
In the Altay serial production race BMC will be competing with FNSS and Otokar, the maker of Altay’s prototypes.
Procurement sources say the government’s final decision on the multibillion-dollar serial production contract will likely come in the next couple of months.
SSM says the engine program aims to end Turkey’s dependency on foreign power technology in the Altay program.
One of the failed bidders in the engine competition, Tumosan in 2015 won a $100 million contract to develop an engine for the Altay. It then signed a know-how deal with Austrian AVL List GmbH, but in 2016 this key technical support contract was canceled as part of Austria’s arms embargo on Turkey.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.