Turkey's timetable for its Altay
main battle tank hopes to have a winner selected
by mid-2018, with bids from BMC, Otokar and FNSS expected for this November. The initial phase of the indigenous Altay tank program aims to initially serial produce a batch of 250 units, with military officials hoping that the program would eventually reach 1,000 units. Earlier this year, Otokar’s Altay prototypes successfully completed qualification tests including mobility and endurance testing on rough terrain and climatic conditions, firing tests with various scenarios, and survivability testing. However in June, the government procurement agency, SSM, citing an unsatisfactory offer from Otokar for the serial production of the tank, canceled the contract and decided to go for an open competition.
Turkey’s tank fleet is currently made up of American M-48s and M-60s, some of which have been modernized with Israeli cooperation into M-60 Sabra tanks, plus a large contingent of German Leopard 1s and Leopard 2s. That is hardy surprising. America and Germany are Turkey’s 2 most important geopolitical relationships, and this is reflected in Turkey’s choice of defense industry partners. The country’s industrial offset requirements ensure that these manufacturers have a long history of local partnerships to draw upon.
In recent years, however, a pair of new players have begun to make an impact on the Turkish defense scene. One was Israel, whose firms specialized in sub-systems, upgrades, and UAVs. The other is the Republic of [South] Korea, who has made inroads in the Turkish market with turboprop training aircraft, mobile howitzers… and now, main battle tanks.