Five local firms have responded
to the Turkish government's procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries' (SSM) request for proposals to develop an indigenous power pack for the Altay main battle tank (MBT)
. This is the second attempt at developing a national diesel engine, after an initial award granted to Tumosan was rescinded after the company was unable to secure another foreign partner after Austrian firm AVL List GmbH was resrticed by its government to participate in the program. Other supplier governments were also reluctant to supply transfer-of-technology and, in some cases, also requiring export licenses on subcomponents available commercially-off-the-shelf. Tumosan are among the five entries into the new award alongside BMC Automotive, Istanbul Marine Shipbuilding Industry and Trade, Figes Physics and Geometry Computer Simulation Trade, and TUSAS Motor. The renewed power plant program will see the Turkish industry develop critical components, such as the hydrostatic steering unit, turbocharger, cooling package, alternator, and transmission pump, and will be free of external intellectual property and regulatory restrictions.
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.