A declaration of intent regarding the supply of engines for Turkey’s domestic main battle tank (MBT) Altay was signed by officials from South Korea, which was previously reported as being a procurement option in the project.
The related statement was made by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday.
The minister, who said that Turkey and South Korea are important partners in the defense industry, noted in a Twitter statement that Minister Kang Eun-ho, the South Korean minister responsible for the Defense Procurement Program (DAPA), informed him about the signing of the declaration of intent on the supply of Altay tank engines.
“It is an important step in the context of the project,” he added.
Media reports said in March that Turkish land vehicles manufacturer BMC, the company that is undertaking the Altay project, agreed 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, while the procurement of an engine has been a preventive step for a while 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 has 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.
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