ANKARA — A number of countries Turkey views as "allies" are interested in buying what will become Turkey's first indigenous new generation main battle tank, the Altay, the top procurement official has said.

Ismail Demir, head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) said during a presentation in parliament that including Pakistan and the Gulf countries with which Turkey has good political relations were showing a large interest in the Altay.

"Lately, we have seen that Saudi Arabia's interest was big," he said.

He said that Turkey invited officials from these countries to the ongoing firing tests for the Altay. "The tests, meanwhile, are extremely satisfying," Demir said.

The SSM officials said at the briefing that five prototypes of the tank have been produced and succeeded in tests in different spots across Turkey.

The Altay will soon go through winter tests in Sarikamis district in eastern Turkey. That district is well-known for its challenging winter conditions.

SSM is expected this year to announce a bidding for the Altay's serial production.

Potential bidders are three local armored vehicle makers: Otokar, the Altay's designer and the producer of its prototypes, BMC and FNSS.

Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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