ANKARA, (BM) – Turkey already had to have a “local” main battle tank, but this has never happened in recent months. The Turkish Altay tank is stuck in a quagmire of technological problems and is panicking for help from South Korea to provide technological solutions. BulgarianMilitary.com has learned that the situation with the Altay program is not rosy at all and the Turks face big problems with it.
Realistically, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2019 in one of his speeches included Altay in the weapons plans for 2020, and this remained on paper. Currently, according to Turkish sources, both program leaders and various suppliers are in talks with South Korea to provide technology support. Altay is very late, and the Turks have not solved three main problems: engine, armor and transmission.
According to the US military online publication Defense News, a Turkish source who is an employee of the Altay program told reporters that Turkey does not really have access to the three important components described above and it is not known when the program will restart and when Turkey will be ready for the serial production of the tank. And as a final – if until a year ago Erdogan was talking about a new Turkish tank, then Altay is not even included in the country’s investment program for next year.
A Turkish source says his country is currently in talks with South Korea to resolve the three main technological problems. Turkey and South Korea have a very good relationship, and in recent years South Korean companies have built key public infrastructure projects in Turkey. Now the Erdogan administration is once again seeking help from the Asian side, but the idea of an all-Turkish tank, which is clearly not going to be such, but is likely to have South Korean engines, transmission and armor, is being lost.
The Turks hope that the coming months will be crucial and that an agreement will be reached with South Korean producers in this area. If this happens, there will no longer be an obstacle for Altay to get on the assembly line and enter serial production. Currently, two South Korean companies are quoted in the public space – Doosan and S&T Dynamics, and as a mediator of the talks, again according to sources, is a third South Korean company – Hyundai Rotem.
The first two South Korean companies are more than familiar with the production of tanks, especially considering that they are the basis for the creation of the South Korean tank K2 Black Panther. This tank is very good. This tank is a next-generation tank and some time ago we even put it in second place in the world in the ranking of next-generation tanks [first place went to the Russian tank Armata – ed.]. but to become what it is today, South Korea’s “black panther” has gone through exactly the same problems as Turkey’s Altay.
South Korea initially chose a 1,500-horsepower Doosan engine as well as an S&T Dynamics automatic transmission. But four years ago, the automatic transmission failed tests, forcing South Korea to look for another solution, finding it in a hybrid powertrain but with a German transmission.
Now, however, the real question for a few million dollars arises – how do the Turks expect to power their tank with a powerful and proven engine, but use a transmission that has failed? Of course, South Korea is not Altay’s first choice. Initially, the Turks wanted a German engine with a German transmission, but the moment came when Berlin imposed an arms embargo on Turkey and the possible deal went in the trash.
Of course, the third main problem of Altay remains – the armor. There are rumors that it will be produced locally, through a public-private partnership. And it didn’t have to be that way. Turkey has been negotiating with French producers, but again problems – tensions between France and Turkey in recent years have thwarted a possible future deal.
The Turks already had to have their own “tank“, although this statement is also no longer possible. Otokar was the company that won the tender years ago, and Altay tanks were to be produced on the production line, with Ankara expecting at least 250 units – that was the contract. In reality, according to Erdogan’s plans, Turkey should have at least 1,000. “Turkish” tanks Altay. When this will happen – is not clear at all.
Heavy and expensive: why the Turkish Altay tank did not fit Pakistan?
While modernizing their armored forces, the Pakistani military command has been eyeing Turkish Altay main battle tanks. However, it has now been decided to purchase Chinese VT-4s in July this year.
Why this happened, explained the Pakstrategic website. The big drawback of the novelty of the Turkish military-industrial complex is its significant weight, exceeding 60 tons. This is considered a major disadvantage for mountain and desert operations. In terms of mobility, Altay is significantly inferior to the tanks produced by the local industry Al-Khalid, Al-Zarrar and samples from China.
It is noted that a 120-mm cannon is installed on a Turkish armored vehicle, while the main tank caliber in the Pakistani army is 125 mm. Manufacturing or purchasing new ammunition will take a long time and cost too much money. The tank also has a 1,500-horsepower German engine, and for political reasons, it is unlikely that permission will be obtained to export such power plants to Pakistan. Prospects for creating your own 1800 hp engine very foggy.
There are also big questions about the price, and it is significant – the cost of one unit already reaches $ 13.75 million. In the spring of this year, it became known about a deal for Pakistan to purchase 300 VT-4 tanks manufactured in China. The contract amount is estimated at $ 860 million. Military cooperation between these two countries in the field of armored vehicles began in the 60s and a significant part of the fleet is made up of combat vehicles purchased from China or created with the help of specialists from this state.
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