The engine for Turkey’s long-awaited indigenously developed domestic main battle tank (MBT) Altay has arrived from South Korea, Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) head Ismail Demir said Sunday.
"The tests of the engine’s power systems are currently underway. We are waiting for May. We will see the prototype of the tank with this engine," he said while speaking to a group of journalists on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum (ADF).
Demir added that there is no regression in the project.
Media reports said previously that Turkish land vehicle manufacturer BMC, the company that is undertaking the Altay project, signed an agreement with two South Korean companies, Doosan Infracore Co. and S&T Dynamics Co., for the engine and transmission.
Turkey initially kicked off the MBT project in 2007, but the procurement of an engine proved an obstacle for some time as some European companies refused to sell the powering unit.
The prototype for the Altay was unveiled at a 2011 defense show in Istanbul.
Previously, the next-generation battle tank's prototype was powered by a 1,500 horsepower diesel engine from Germany's MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH. The German Rheinmetall had also established a joint venture with BMC aimed at joint production of armored vehicles, particularly the main battle tank, Altay. However, the production and supply of the tank engine came to a halt following Berlin’s decision to limit arms exports to Turkey, a longtime NATO ally.
The German arms embargo came as a result of the flare-ups in Syria that have put weapons sales to Ankara under intense scrutiny by its Western allies. Germany has repeatedly announced that it limits arms sales to Turkey, which launched a counterterrorism operation in northern Syria that targeted both Daesh terrorists and the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian branch, the YPG.
Ankara has long criticized German authorities for not taking serious measures against the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, and waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 40 years, causing the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.
Meanwhile, Turkish defense officials have reiterated several times that the engine to be purchased from abroad will only be used on the first mass-produced tanks while in the subsequent productions, Altay tanks are to be powered with domestic engines that are under production.