ANKARA, Turkey — BMC, a privately owned Turkish-Qatari armored vehicles manufacturer, has won a multibillion-dollar contract for the serial production of the Altay, Turkey’s first indigenous, new-generation main battle tank in the making.

A top procurement official confirmed the decision. “We will start contract negotiations with this group, as it emerged as the best bidder,” the official said.

Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industies, or SSM, has been reviewing bids from three contenders since 2017. Other bidders were Otokar, maker of the Altay’s prototypes, and FNSS. Both companies are privately owned armored vehicle makers.

In 2008, Otokar, Turkey’s largest privately owned defense company, signed a $500 million contract with SSM for the development and production of four prototypes of the Altay. The prototype contract did not involve serial production.

A senior BMC official confirmed the decision. He said the official announcement should follow very soon.

BMC is a partnership between a Qatari investment fund and a Turkish venture whose partner, Ethem Sancak, also sits in the executive board of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party.

In February BMC announced that it set out to an ambitious work to design, develop and produce an indigenous engine for the Altay. The company said it devoted 200 engineers on the engine development program.

An industry source said that BMC’s victory would further deepen defense cooperation and procurement ties between Turkey and Qatar — staunch regional allies.

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.

Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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