Turkey wants to buy up to 100 South Korean tank engines

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ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey is negotiating the purchase of up to 100 South Korean-made engines and transmissions to power its first domestic tank, the Altay.

Ismail Demir, Turkey’s top defense procurement official, said negotiations with two South Korean companies focused on the quantity of power packs (which make up the engine and transmission) that would be supplied for the Altay program.

“We have a lot to define,” Demir said. “We’re talking 50 to 100.”

He added that an agreed quantity would be followed by a price fixing. Turkey, he explained, wants to ensure the Altai has enough foreign-made power supplies, while the country makes its own version called Batu to power the tanks.

“[The Korean solution] has components delivered from abroad [non-Korean sources]. We want to produce these locally for the Batu program,” said Demir.

In October, Turkey and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding whereby two Korean companies would supply engines and transmission mechanisms for the Altay. Turkish armored vehicle manufacturer BMC, which makes the Altay, has negotiated strategic agreements with two South Korean companies to work together on a power unit for the new tank.

Doosan and S&T Dynamics were to provide the know-how for the engine and transmission mechanism so that the powerhouse could be produced together in Turkey. However, the co-production option did not go as planned and it seems Turkey will make a standard takeover of the Korean powerhouse, Turkish sources said.

Under the Altay Tank Agreement, the South Korean companies will supply the Power Pack and help integrate it into the new generation tank. A test phase follows. If all goes well, the Altays could be powered by the two companies within 18 months.

BMC was awarded the multi-billion dollar Altay contract in November 2018. The order includes the production of a first batch of 250 units, logistical support throughout the life cycle and the establishment and operation by the contractor of a technology center for tank systems. Under the terms of the contract, BMC will design, develop and produce a tank with an unmanned fire control unit.

The Altay program is divided into two phases: T1 and T2. T1 includes the first 250 units and T2 includes the advanced version of the tank. Turkey plans to eventually produce 1,000 Altai, followed by an unmanned version.

Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News and worked as bureau chief in Ankara for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e Television. He is also a Fellow of the Middle East Forum and a regular contributor to the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.

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