ANKARA — A privately owned Turkish engine maker has signed a €190 million (US $206.35 million) contract with the government to design an engine for the Altay, a new-generation tank the country is developing.

TUMOSAN's Power Group Development program signed the contract on March 17 with the country's procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM). Last August, Turkey's top procurement panel, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, tasked SSM with opening contract negotiations with TUMOSAN.

The program involves the indigenous design, development, prototype production, testing and qualification of an engine for the Altay. Under the plan, TUMOSAN also will design and develop a transmission for the Turkish tank and produce critical parts for its engine, including the diesel pump, electronic control unit and injector.

TUMOSAN said it aims to conclude the program within 54 months and "with maximum possible local content." It said it will obtain foreign know-how wherever necessary.

TUMOSAN hopes that it will also develop variants of the planned engine for other land and naval platforms.

"This [program] will end Turkey's dependency on [foreign] engines for military vehicles," said Kurtulus Ogun, TUMOSAN's general manager.

TUMOSAN, founded in 1975, is a diesel engine and tractor manufacturer. It produces 75,000 diesel engines annually.

The deal comes at a time when as Turkey's procurement authorities are prepareing to officially launch a multibillion-dollar competition. foran eventual batch of 1,000 Altay tanks. Turkish company Otokar developed the prototypes for the Altay.

The race for the serial production will involve an initial batch of 250 tanks to be followed by three follow-on orders, each comprising 250 more tanks.

The Altay program has faced hurdles and delays as the most problematic development feature concerned its engine. Turkey's months-long negotiations with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for joint development and production of an engine for the Altay failed last year.