Turkey’s Altay tank project has been dormant for a long time. However, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
The Altay tank project was launched in 2007. Intended to replace some of the Turkish army’s aging tanks such as M60s, the Altay is among the only 4th gen main battle tanks. With its advanced fire control system, boron carbide composite armor and Akkor hard-kill APS, the Altay tank is a big step up from current tanks in the Turkish inventory, including the Leopard 2.
In 2018 the German government decided to place an embargo on arms exports to Turkey. As a result, the MTU 1500hp engines that were supposed to power the Altay could not be acquired. This embargo came into place just as the project was being prepared for serial production. Since then, it has been 4 years. Efforts to produce a domestic 1500hp engine have been ongoing, though creating a reliable engine of this power output is not an easy task for a country that is new to producing engines.
Rumours of a South Korean power pack for the Altay started circulating in 2021. These were followed by official announcements soon after. Both sides have confirmed that the Hyundai Doosan Infracore DV27K engine and SNT Dynamics EST15K transmissions have been approved for integration in prototypes.
Now the Seoul office of the Turkish Investment Agency has stated that a contract will be signed soon for the mass production of the Korean engines and transmissions, thus paving the way for the mass production of the Altay tank. Several modifications are expected to be made before mass production commences next year.
Though the vulnerability of tanks has been exposed in recent conflicts, Turkey, like all major militaries is pressing on with its next-generation tank project. The Altay has been one of the most hotly anticipated projects of the Turkish defence industry. As a long-running major project that will transform an aging fleet, there is no going back. With the engines and transmissions almost ready, the Altay could finally enter the inventory as early as next year, ending a long and arduous saga for the Turkish military and defence industry.