Turkey's ruling AKP blames Germany for delay in Altay tank production

(This story has been updated with regards to the German tank engine producer MTU, which is a part of the Rolls Royce) 

The mass production of Turkey’s Altay tanks has been delayed due to failure of German companies to fulfil their responsibilities, an official with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said on Wednesday.

Turkey is "absolutely determined’’ to produce the country’smost ambitious land vehicle project to date, despite the delays, Karar newspaper cited AKP parliamentary group deputy chair Muhammet Emin Akbaşoğlu as saying.

The tank programme consists of "components with different wings,’’ the AKP lawmaker said, adding, "Matters become delayed when a party says ‘I am not fulfilling my responsibilities,’’ referring to German companies.

"Then, you are forced to continue with different options,’’ he added.

Turkish negotiations with German defence firms for the production on Turkey's Altay main battle tank began stalling as of 2017 due to tensions between Berlin and Ankara, in addition to a German arms embargo against Turkey.

The country had sent an ambitious two-year timeline for the Altay programme in 2019, announcing that the main battle tank would be fielded in 2021. But experts maintain the latter deadline has become unattainable.

The tank’s Turkish-Qatari manufacturer, BMC, is in talks with South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem to solve problems surrounding missing foreign technology for the tanks, Defense News reported last month.

In 2018, the SSM signed a deal with BMC for the design, development, prototype production, testing and qualification of the Altay.

İsmail Demir in Nov. 2018 had announced on Twitter that "The first Altay tank will be delivered in 18 months.’’

The denial of engine technology by European firms has dealt a considerable set back to plans for production of the Altay, which Turkish officials tout as the country’s first fully national, indigenous tank.

Akbaşoğlu on Wednesday vowed to begin production on the tank, saying the Turkish government would not give way to "those looking to abort this project.’’

"We are once again going to demonstrate the power of this nation and its people,’’ he said.