Turkish battle tank producer shares kept among friends of Erdoğan

Shares in BMC, the company producing the Altay, Turkey’s first next-generation battle tank, are being kept within a group of businesspeople close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense News website reported on Wednesday.

The BMC shares in question BMC’s Turkish shares are owned by Turkish businessmen Ethem Sancak and Talip Öztürk, both of whom maintain close ties to Erdoğan, according to the report. Sancak previously was a senior official at Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

There has been controversy over BMC’s 25-year free lease of Turkish military property, according to the report.

Sancak and Öztürk will sell 51 percent of their shares to Tosyalı Holding, a leading iron and steel producer, which also has close ties to Erdoğan, the report points out. Tosyalı, with over 10,000 employees, operates three facilities on three continents and produces six million tons of steel annually, the report said.

Based on 2020 defence revenue, BMC ranked 89th in the Defense News Top 100 annual rankings with earnings of $533 million dollars in that year.

Turkey had hoped to power the Altay with the German MTU engine and RENK transmission, but talks with German manufacturers in recent years failed due to Germany’s imposing an arms embargo on Turkey due to its  involvement in the Syrian civil war.

The result was a delay in production; the project was to be finished in 2020, as Defense News points out.

Currently Turkey is exploring ways to work with South Korea, but it’s not certain that the Asian nation’s technology will be compatible.

The multi-billion dollar Altay contract involves the production of an initial batch of 250 units, life-cycle logistical support, and the establishment by the contractor of a tank systems technology centre and its operation. As part of the contract, BMC will design, develop and produce a tank with an unmanned fire control unit, Defense News says.