1 May 2019
By Paolo Valpolini
Menatek Defense Technologies is a leading high-tech manufacturer; based in Istanbul, it is active in many fields, and in the last year it put a considerable R&D effort in the armour sector, developing new solution with its own financial and technical resources. The work started with Level 3 and 4 armour packages, known as SUR plates, which gave excellent results, ballistic tests being carried out at the FNSS facilities. Although marginally heavier than the best competitors, a weight saving programme having already started, Menatek solutions showed the capacity to withstand rounds with a 25% excess velocity compared to NATO 4569 standards. According to company R&D executive this is due to the company-developed new laminating technology which brings to a more elastic polymer giving birth to a semi-rigid plate, the shock wave thus dissipating in the three-dimensional fibre polymer matrix.
The new polymer increases the fibre pulling, generating a cumulative effect which in the end allows catching all fragments in a very effective way, this technology allowing also obtaining superior spall liners. Tests were conducted with 8 shots to verify the multi hit capability, well over the required standard, angle shots and high velocity impacts being also part of the testing. Low velocity impacts, to verify the shatter gap phenomenon. All tests were successful, Menatek looking at further developments and improvements before launching its armour as a product, looking mostly at the export market as “our competition is not in Turkey,” the Director Business Development and Strategy told EDR On-Line.
The company has already moved further stepping up to Level 5, which is a wholly different story. A medium calibre round travels at over Mach 3; to cope with the momentum, composite systems tend to lose the multi-hit capability as the two requirements collide.
To cope with this Menatek introduced what it calls “the cell”, an element of a few centimetres per side that contains a combination of materials aimed at mitigating the penetrating power of the incoming bullet, reducing it in order to allow the base armour of the vehicle to withstand the hit. Cells are put together to form a superstructure that has a greater ballistic efficiency compared to conventional solutions, its inherent modularity also allowing easier reparation. Not only, However an impact transferring over 100 KJ of energy, typical of STANAG 5 threats can easily compromise the structural integrity of the plate or dislodge equipment pieces, which would become secondary projectiles inside the vehicle. The design of the new armoured plates developed by Menatek allows draining and distributing energy in a controllable manner, the residual energy being easily absorbed by the vehicle body. The armour package consists of the front armour made by the cell system, followed by a support panel, then a void space, and finally the base armour of the vehicle. According to the R&D executive this should allow to stop up to a 25 mm tungsten carbide round, although for the time being this comes from modelling, firing tests being awaited in the near future. The company is already working on a Level 6 solution, which might be unveiled at DSEI next September.
“However we are not looking only at add-on armour solutions,” the Business Development Director tells us, “we try to think innovative and we hope to disclose surprising products, hopefully very soon.” As movie-makers would say, “To be continued.”
Photos by Paolo Valpolini