Turkish procurement office warns armored vehicle maker
İZMİR- Anatolia News Agency
BMC has agreed to sell 468 Kirpis, armored vehicles, to Turkish defense ministry, but due to its financial problems the production is still175 Kirpis behind. DHA photoThe Turkish Defense Industry Undersecretariat has given BMC, the maker of Turkey’s Kirpi brand armored carriers, a one-month deadline to deliver 175 Kirpis and 105 trucks that the company has failed to deliver thus far due to its financial problems, a high official at the undersecretariat has said.
“It should solve this problem within a month, but if they cannot we need to procure this [order] for the Turkish Armed Forces from somewhere else,” said Levent Şenel, the head of the Defense Industry Undersecretariat’s land vehicles department.
The National Defense Ministry had signed a deal in 2009 with BMC to produce 468 Kirpis and trucks in a range of sizes, to be delivered by the end of 2012.
BMC is currently 175 armored carriers and 105 2.5-ton-capacity trucks behind the agreed schedule. Along with the military, police forces are also waiting for 468 Kirpi with past-due delivery dates.
The company has been in a tight squeeze since last May, when the company first failed to pay salaries on time, and production at BMC factories have halted several times in the intervening period. As a last resort, unpaid workers have protested against the company by marching to Ankara and Istanbul from İzmir, where BMC production is located.
“We have been following this issue, though the public may not always be aware of it, and we have been warning the company regularly,” Şenel said.
“This is the first time we have encountered something like this,” he said. “There is a satisfactory vehicle that has passed all the tests and a buyer ready to pay, but the producer cannot deliver the order.”
Şenel, who still praises the quality of BMC’s products, said the problem underlying the delay must be the poor financial management of the company.
The official said Turkey had been patient for a year and a half, the total amount of time spent waiting for the delivery, but that the delay had costs for the state due to losses incurred as time passed. In addition to the financial burden, BMC would also be held responsible if any soldier were to be killed in a mine attack in the meantime, he said, adding that these factors were causing the state to run out of patience.
Şenel said Turkey is not dependent on BMC for developing these vehicles and that if the problems persisted for much longer, it could easily consider these options.
In his remarks, he mentioned another manufacturer, Otokar, as possible option, as this company produces the same type of vehicles.
“During the tender process, we chose the Kirpi on the basis of its advantages but Otokar went on to create its own prototype. After testing the first one, it also produced another one in a different size. If we want to buy a ready-made one, there is a proper vehicle available.”
He said in addition to Otokar, FNNS was another company that could also develop this kind of vehicle.
Despite the many alternatives available from various companies, it is still hoped and expected that BMC will recover and fulfill its obligations.
Şenel hinted that BMC had been working toward a rapid recovery through a partnership.