Latest News

Could South Korea`s Powerpack Be the Powerpack Solution Sought After for the ALTAY MBT Serial Production Project?

In a report written by Burak Ege BEKDİL in Defence News Magazine a while ago, he claimed that Turkey started negotiations with South Korea to save the ALTAY Main Battle Tank (MBT) Program, which could not reach the serial production stage due to problems in the procurement of German Europowerpack and French armor solution. Accordingly, both the procurement authority (the SSB), the military officials, and BMC Company officials, which is the ALTAY MBT Serial Production Phase Main Contractor, have been holding talks with the South Korean tank engine manufacturer Doosan Infracore Corporation and the transmission manufacturer S&T Dynamics through the South Korean Hyundai Rotem. Previously, on May 7, 2020, the President of Defense Industries İsmail DEMİR stated that they are working on a powerpack with a country that has not yet been announced in the ALTAY Project and revealed that they might even sign an agreement soon.

Date: November 25, 2020

While the Doosan Infracore product, a 1,500 hp rated 12-cylinder (V12) DV27K diesel engine, is used in the second batch of 106 K2 Black Panther Tanks produced for the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA), the S&T Dynamics product EST15K Automatic Transmission with hydraulic torque converter could not be used in the first batch of 100 and the second batch of 106 K2 Tanks due to technical problems. Instead, the German Renk product HSWL 495TM Automatic Transmission was used in the tanks. The domestically designed and produced EST15K Automatic Transmission is intended to be used with the DV27K Diesel Engine in the third batch of 54 K2 tanks expected to be ordered this year, following the completion of the development/improvement, and testing process.

The EUR3.5 Billion ALTAY MBT Serial Production Contract was signed on November 9, 2018, and the President of Defense Industries İsmail DEMİR, announced the news on his social media account on the same day. "The first ALTAY Tank will be delivered to the Turkish Land Forces after 18 months," Demir said. However, although more than two years have passed since the signing of the agreement, the contract could not enter into force even after a long time, and T0 could not be initiated due to problems in the procurement of critical subsystems. The project included the production and delivery of 251 tanks in three different configurations, 40 T1, 210 T2, and 1 T3 prototype with an unmanned turret. A domestic design powerpack was planned to be used in some of the ALTAY tanks to be manufactured under the Serial Production Phase, and the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) signed a contract with BMC Power on June 13, 2018. The ALTAY MBT Powerpack, which will be developed in U configuration, was named BATU, which consists of a V12 diesel engine producing at least 4,600 Nm torque and 1,500 hp, a fully automatic cross-drive steering transmission, cooling package, and related subsystems.

Meanwhile, in May 2019, some sources claimed that BMC was working with the support of Fiat to develop a new 1,600 hp engine based on the 1,270 hp (950 kW) Fiat/Iveco MTCA V12 (25.8-liters) Diesel Engine used in Ariete Tanks. Allegedly, Fiat would also support the studies, and two different engines would emerge at the end of the development process. While the Italians were designing a 1,500 hp supercharged engine, BMC was designing a turbocharged engine for ALTAY Tanks. However, it seems that this option took a heavy blow with the selection of the Iveco product 1,600 hp 12-cylinder (V12) VECTOR-12 Engine instead of the 1,500 hp version of the current Fiat-Iveco MTCA V12 Engine as part of the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) Project of the Italian Army C1 Ariete tanks. The VECTOR-12 will be based on the VECTOR-8 Diesel Engine that powers the B2 Centauro II 8x8 MGS (Mobile Gun System) wheeled Fire Support Vehicles in service and will be used in combination with the Renk product HSWL 295TM Automatic Transmission (it is also a part of the EuroPowerPack used in ALTAY Tanks, which Germany has not given the export license for two years). The testing process is planned to start in 2021 with 3 C1 Ariete MBT prototypes to be upgraded under the EUR35 Million contract.

President of Defense Industries İsmail Demir answered questions for Turkey's leading defense magazines during a live interview broadcast on May 7, 2020, and shared information about the ongoing studies carried out with the foreign partner on developing a new engine for ALTAY Tanks. "Our negotiations with another country regarding ALTAY are ongoing, and we can say that it is only a matter of time until we sign an agreement. For the engine, we have a plan B and even a plan C. We are still working on this. On the other hand, the decision as to whether we go with an electric engine or a hybrid engine is still on the table." In his statement to M5 Magazine on June 20, 2020, President of Defense Industries DEMİR responded to a question on the serial production process of the Altay tank that started with six engines previously supplied and said, "There may not be only six because there are also a number of spare engines. They have undergone a certain number of tests. You cannot just put spare engines in tanks. It could be five tanks or four tanks. We indeed started such a study. So you might ask why we have not started before. When you set up a production facility, you cannot wait three years or five years after producing a few tanks, so we will proceed according to a schedule."

In his interview with DEFENCE TURKEY Magazine on September 25, İsmail DEMİR said the following in response to a question about whether there have been any developments regarding the export license of the EuroPowerpack's sales to Turkey and when is the project schedule expected to start: "Perhaps public opinion has had a distorted reaction to the delay in serial production. A powerpack was selected during prototype production, and we are telling the company to maintain production in line with that prototype. If the source country stopped the procurement of the powerpack which we developed the prototype over, then it is not befitting to only blame the party in charge of serial production at this point. They are exploring a solution with our support as well; they conducted a comprehensive study on how to carry on with another country along with their own engine development project. A multi-player case emerged there, not only in the powerpack but also in the specific component of the powerpack. In other words, a product may not come from just a single point; even if a small part is imported from another country, then it should be seamless. We reached a certain level regarding the engine with another country, and meanwhile, our activities on the indigenous engine are in progress. In the first stage, the tank's production may be kicked off with a few engines that were procured during the development phase. But if you ask why it has not yet been launched, well, it is meaningless to manufacture 3-4 tanks and later suspend the program for two or five years. We will start when we manage to form a consecutive chain." Regarding the integration and qualification process of the powerpack option other than the German EuroPowerpack to the ALTAY tank, DEMİR said, "If there is a blockage at a certain stage, you cannot expect it to be resolved. During the process, negotiations are being held with parties, and some stages have been passed, but a specific component may be dwelled upon. We are doing our best to manage this process in the best way possible. And it seems like we reached the final point. Sometimes, a minor issue takes much time to settle. Practically we have reached the final point, but still, we have the qualification process ahead. We need to qualify the powerpack over our own product as well. If a blockage beyond the control of the contractor emerges regarding this product, it will be considered as force majeure. So, what can one do about this? It is not a product that could be procured off the shelf and integrated into a platform. One can hardly say product A could not be procured, so I will utilize product B. In fact, negotiating and coming to an agreement with the related country on the powerpack to be procured is a process in itself, and then integrating that system to your product and its qualification over that product is another stage, not to mention the remaining processes such as negotiating with the country and maturing the agreement terms.”

South Korean Experience with the MBT Powerpack: K2 MBT Powerpack

Having a much more advanced automotive industry than Turkey, South Korea carried out studies to develop a domestic powerpack for the K2 Black Panther MBT between 2005-2014. In this context, South Korea commissioned Doosan Infracore, which produced its first powerpack in the 1980s, to develop a 12-cylinder diesel engine and S&T Dynamics to develop an automatic transmission system.

South Korea started the XK2 MBT Development Program in 1995, and the first XK2 prototype was displayed in 2007. At the end of a 13-year development process, it became ready for serial production in 2008 under the name K2. After an extensive testing process, a contract worth US$820 million was signed in December 2014 for the first batch of 100 K2 Black Panther tanks, and the deliveries were completed in November 2016 (production activities started in November). Since the domestic power pack was not ready at that time, the first batch of 100 K2 tanks were equipped with the EuroPowerPack consisting of the German MTU diesel engine and the Renk HSWL 295TM Transmission. After lengthy and costly studies (due to technical problems in the domestic powerpack development process, the K2 Project was delayed for more than two years), South Korea managed to develop a domestic powerpack consisting of Doosan Infracore product 1500 hp DV27K diesel engine with a double turbocharger (it is claimed to be based on the German MTU product MT890 series diesel engine) and the ST Dynamics product EST15K fully automatic transmission with six forward and three reverse gears in 9 years (2005-2014). According to the domestic powerpack contract, which was signed in March 2015, EST15K Transmission was planned to be used in the second batch of 106 K2 Main Battle Tanks, the contract of which was signed in 2019. However, due to the low reliability and durability performance of the EST15K Transmission during mobility tests and its failure to meet the requirements, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced in February 2018 that a hybrid powerpack consisting of DV27K Diesel Engine and the German product Renk HSWL 295TM Automatic Transmission will be used in the second batch of tanks.

According to the S&T Dynamics Military Products Catalog, the Operational Tests of the EST15K system, which were carried out in coordination with the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA), were completed on May 2, 2013. During the Development Tests conducted in coordination with South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD), it has met all 82 requirements, except the 9,600km durability test. According to the company's claim, a K2 MBT (full combat weight) equipped with the EST15K Transmission was able to complete 85.4% (8,198km) of the required 9,600km during the Durability Test. However, according to an article written by Kim Byung-WOOK in South Korea on July 16, 2020, it was claimed that the EST15K Transmission system failed 6 times during the performance tests (durability tests) conducted in 2014, and the transmission failed after 237 hours of continuous operation.

Following the completion of the development/improvement and qualification test process, the domestic design and production of the EST15K Transmission was intended to be used in combination with the DV27K Diesel Engine in the third batch of 54 K2 MBTs, which were expected to be ordered last year. According to some articles published by South Korean media outlets in July and August 2020, DAPA has revised the Durability Tests requirements and announced new standards. Several Korean authors claimed that this revision paved the way for using the domestic powerpack in the K2 Black Panther MBTs. Making a statement on the subject, Kim Ki-TAEK, head of DAPA's division in charge of tanks and armored vehicles, said the revision will serve as a "starting point for the complete localization of K2 tank's powerpack. "On July 16, 2020, DAPA also made a statement and said, "This year, we will conduct a new qualification test with the candidate domestic powerpack in accordance with the revised requirements. Also, we will decide before the end of this year whether to use the domestic transmission system in the third batch of serial-production K2 tanks." An unnamed DAPA official who spoke to Kim Byung-WOOK stated that DAPA will conduct additional tests with the S&T Dynamics transmission to ensure the third batch of K2 tanks is produced with 100% Korean parts. "Although we have changed the way we conduct the test, our requirements are still the same. In other words, the transmission system has to work successfully for 320 hours or 9,600 kilometers without any failures." There were some disagreements between the relevant institutions and companies about the national defense standards regarding the EST15K Transmission, and the regulations were requested to be revised after the parliamentary audit in 2018. The Government of South Korea shared the relevant regulations with the public on Thursday, July 16, to ensure that the test was conducted in a "fair and reasonable" manner. Kim Byung-WOOK's article also states that DAPA's new set of rules define a defect "as a situation in which a basic function of the transmission (shifting, steering, braking) is not working, or the test can no longer continue due to a 'serious' decrease in performance." According to WOOK, test results depend entirely on how the military interprets the term 'serious'. As of November 20, 2020, there was no news in open sources regarding the qualification of K2 Black Panther tanks equipped with the Korean Powerpack or the approval of the EST15K Transmission for serial production.

Major Differences Between the Korean Powerpack and the EuroPowerPack

The Doosan Infracore product DV27K is a 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) rated 4-cycle 12-cylinder (V12) twin-turbocharged & air-to-water intercooled 27.2-liter diesel engine with Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) cylinder blocks. While the engine's nominal speed is 2,000 rpm (revolutions per minute), its speed increases to 2,700 rpm while producing 1,479 hp. Equipped with a fully electronically controlled Common Rail Injection System, the DV27K engine can produce 4,560 Nm (newton meter) torque at 2,000 rpm. The DV27K engine is 1,828 mm long, 1,060 mm wide, and 1,126 mm high, and has a dry weight of 2,578 kg. The EST15K Transmission has capacity for 140 Liters of oil, six forward and three reverse gears, and a Hydraulic Torque Converter with an automatic lockup clutch. The dry weight of the Transmission is given as 2,500kg in the product brochure. The EST15K, which can be used in tanks up to 65 tons, can be combined with both the Doosan DV27K and MTU MT883 Ka-501 engines. It is stated that with the domestic powerpack, K2 tanks can reach up to 50 km/h cross-country and 68 km/h on roads and can traverse a maximum range of 450km with internal fuel. However, while a K2 Black Panther Tank (with 56 tons combat weight) can accelerate from 0 to 32 km/h in 7 seconds with the MTU MT883 Ka-501 V12 diesel engine and Renk HSWL 295TM automatic transmission, it has been claimed that the K2 MBT could reach this speed in about 8 seconds with the Korean Powerpack. The 63.5-ton ALTAY MBT, which uses the EuroPowerPack consisting of the MTU MT883 Ka-501CR V12 diesel engine and Renk HSWL 295TM automatic transmission weighing 2,450kg with five forward and three reverse gears, can accelerate from 0 to 32km in 6 seconds and can reach 30km/h in the reverse direction (again in 6 seconds). It is stated that the ALTAY tank, with a combat weight of 63.5 tons, can reach a top speed of 65.5km/h with the EuroPowerPack.

The EuroPowerPack used in the ALTAY MBT has a 'U Type' Configuration in which the engine is placed parallel to the transmission. The EuroPowerPack incorporates the newest member of the 880 series diesel engine family produced by the German company MTU, 12-cylinder (V12) MT883 Ka-501CR diesel engine with a Common Rail Injection (CRI) system, which provides improved fuel-efficiency. The torque value of the MT883 Ka-501CR Engine, which has a length of 1,488 mm, a width of 972 mm, and a height of 742 mm, is given as 3,687 ft-lb (4,999 Nm) at 2,000 rpm. With a volume of 27.4 liters and a dry weight of 1,800 kg (3,968 lb), the MT883 Ka-501CR Engine can produce 1,200 kW (1,630 hp) in standard configuration. The engine has an oil capacity of 80 kg (21.13 gallons) and a nominal speed of 3,000 rpm. It can produce 1,496 hp at 2,700 rpm. Since the engine power was defined as 1,500 hp in the ALTAY MBT Project specification, the MT883 Ka-501CR diesel engine with a capacity of 1,630 hp was "downgraded" (with software) before being sent to Turkey and installed in the tanks. Another significant difference/superiority of the ALTAY MBT Powerpack from the EuroPowerPack systems used in other tank models is that it has the strongest Cooling System in its class. In every tank in the world, when the predefined operating temperature values are exceeded, the engine gradually decreases its power in a controlled manner so that it does not overheat, and the tank can continue its mission. The cooling system in the ALTAY MBT powerpack is designed to operate at the highest predefined operating temperatures without causing any horsepower loss. Otokar engineers also took part in the development of this cooling system.

During the ALTAY MBT Development Phase, a total of 5 sets of EuroPowerpacks were procured under the EUR12 Million contract signed in October 2010. Four of them were used in the PV1, PV2, MTR (Mobility Test Rig), and FTR (Firing Test Rig) Prototype and Pre-Prototypes, and the 5th powerpack was used in the tank chassis (prototype No.5), which Otokar produced on its own initiative for use in mobility tests. An Otokar official I spoke to at that time stated that the 5th powerpack was financed by Otokar's own resources. The ALTAY AHT (Asymmetric Warfare Tank) exhibited by Otokar at IDEF '17 Fair, was based on the body/chassis of the ALTAY MBT prototype number 5. Therefore, I believe that at the end of ALTAY MBT Project Phase-I, Otokar delivered 4 Pre-Prototypes and Prototypes (PV1, PV2, MTR, and FTR) with the EuroPowerPack to the Presidency of Defense Industries. However, it is claimed that Otokar also delivered the 5th EuroPowerpack to the SSB. Thus, until the Korean Powerpack deliveries begin, only 5 ALTAY T1 tanks could be produced with the existing powerpack sets at the first phase.

Korean Powerpack and ALTAY T1/T2 Main Battle Tanks

BMC, which received 4 pre-prototypes and prototype tanks within the scope of the ALTAY MBT Project Phase-II Serial Production Project, will upgrade these prototypes to T1 configuration under the contract. In this context, engineering studies were initiated under the responsibility of BMC. The studies were carried out first in the Ankara Engineering Office and then in the Engineering Office established in Adapazarı/Arifiye. According to the project schedule, BMC will deliver the first ALTAY T1 MBT in T0+24 months.

The PV2 prototype was converted by BMC personnel to the T1 Demonstrator after a 2-month study at the 1st Main Maintenance Factory Directorate and was exhibited at the BMC stand during the IDEF '19 Fair. Since several sub-systems and systems of the tank were not ready at the time, they were displayed as 'dummy' products at the fair. The main differences between the PV2 prototype and the T1 are the Aselsan product AKKOR Active Protection System (APS) and the improved armor package from Roketsan. The T1 Demonstrator includes slat armor around the engine compartment, a thicker ERA package on the hull sides, and a new armor package on the turret. There are 4 AKKOR APS radars around the turret, and since the turret incorporates several electronic units for AKKOR APS, its rear is slightly widened. ALTAY tank's weight in the current configuration is 63.5 tons, and the turret's weight is 25 tons. In response to our question as to whether the increased weight due to the additional armor package would have a negative impact on the performance of the powerpack, BMC officials affirmed that there was no need for extra modifications since the increased weight of the T1 configuration were within their predicted limits. The second batch of 210 T2 models, which will be manufactured after the 40 T1 models, will also feature AKKOR APS, but a completely different armor package will be used in the tank (I think the French armor system mentioned in the Defense News article is about this). Noting that there will be a significant weight increase as the main armor of the tank will be different, BMC officials said, "We cannot give numbers at the moment, but the first 40 tanks will be the T1 model, so there is still time until the production of the T2 model. We will proceed step by step according to the decision of the SSB." To compensate for the increased weight, the T2 was planned to use an indigenous diesel engine, which was designed to be a more powerful and higher performance engine (not only in terms of horsepower but also in terms of torque characteristics) than the existing engine (MT883 Ka-501CR).


It is believed that the Korean Powerpack is considered to have been procured for the first batch of 40 ALTAY T1 tanks so that additional time (24 months) can be gained for the development, testing, and production processes of the indigenous BATU powerpack until T2 production begins.

However, as pointed out above, the Korean Powerpack is heavier and has a slightly larger volume than the current EuroPowerPack and provides less torque. Additional engineering work will be required to integrate Korean Powerpack into existing ALTAY MBT prototypes or pre-prototypes. Moreover, Durability Tests must also be carried out in different terrain and weather conditions with the prototype tank and/or tanks equipped with the Korean Powerpack following the integration for qualification purposes. I believe that this process can take an average of 3-6 months. While South Korea performed a Durability Test of 9,600 km with the K2 MBT, during the System Qualification and Acceptance Tests under ALTAY MBT Project Phase-I, 10,000 km Durability and Mobility Tests were carried out with the PV1 prototype in various terrain and season/weather conditions. During the tests, the MTR and FTR pre-prototypes and the PV1 and PV2 prototypes covered approximately 26,000 km in total.

If the Korean Powerpack performs successfully in the tests, it will be possible to use it in the Serial Production process from the middle of 2021, following its certification for the ALTAY T1 MBT. However, in order not to experience new delays in the Serial Production process planned as T0+24 months and to achieve the monthly production speed of 6 units committed under the Contract, the deliveries of other critical subsystems other than the powerpack must also be in line with the ALTAY T1 MBT Serial Production schedule.