Serial production of Turkey's first national tank will start soon, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at Innovation Week in Istanbul on the weekend, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Turkish largest conglomerate Koc Holding's armored vehicle manufacturer, Otokar, has been working to produce four prototypes of Turkey's first indigenous new generation battle tank, "the Altay," under a $500 million "prototype contract". The company has developed a prototype for the Altay.
"Now, we are able to produce our own tank. It is currently being tested. We'll commence serial production soon", Erdogan said at the closing ceremony of Innovation Week on Nov. 30, daily Hürriyet reported. However, the deal with Otokar does not mean the company also has a contract for the serial production, which is worth billions of dollars.
Erdogan also pointed out Turkey's progress in innovation in recent years. He sought to remind those gathered that the country had also become able to produce its own helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has developed an "entirely Turkish" unmanned aerial vehicle, the ANKA. Erdogan said Turkey had arrived a point at which it could now export them.
Koc's Arcelik receives innovation award
Koc Holding's Arcelik, which produces electrical appliances, has been honored with an Innovation Leadership Award. Erdogan delivered the award to Koc Holding Board Member Ali Koc at the ceremony.
Brisa, Turkish Economy Bank, Turkish Airlines, Aselsan, Turkcell and Boydak Holding were also honored with the accolade.
There has been ongoing tension between Koc and the government since the beginning of summer this year. In one incident, during the month-long demonstrations in June, protesters tried to escape police tear gas and pepper spray by taking refuge in an upmarket Istanbul hotel, the Koc-owned Divan hotel. Hotel management admitted the protesters into its lobby.
Shortly after that brawl, tax police raided Koc's refinery subsidiary, Tüpraş. Officials said it was merely a routine inspection, however, on Sept. 26 the government's executive committee overseeing defense procurement scrapped a $2 billion deal with Koc's shipyards, RMK Marine, pledging new competition.
The MILGEM program involves the eventual construction of eight corvettes (corvettes are the smallest warships in the Turkish Navy). In January, RMK Marine signed the contract for six vessels.