8 May 2019
By Paolo Valpolini
Entering the IDEF exhibition from Hall 14, the first thing you hit was a huge gun-like mount, quite dissimilar however from ordinary guns. The system was dominating the stand of Yeteknoloji, a Turkish company specialized in high power, pulse power supplies and directed energy systems.The huge gun was the Şahi-209 Block 2, a rail gun system currently undergoing testing.
The history of this system dates back to 1972, when the first Pulse Power Source (PPS) system was produced in Turkey, followed in 1985 by the first electronically controlled high current switching control system. These two elements were key in the launch of the first indigenous rail gun design, in 2008, which led to the test firing of the first demonstrator in 2013: since then, every single year, a new and more powerful demonstrator was developed, from the 20 kJ EMFS-1 of 2013 to the 150 kJ EMFS-3, the 400 kJ EMFS-5 and EMFS-6 to the 1 MJ EMFS-7 in 2017, which featured a multi-stage fibre optic electronic switching PS, the first produced in Turkey. The following year marked the delivery of the Şahi-209 Block 1, a 1 MJ system that was the first fieldable operational rail gun system to be produced in Turkey, its evolution being the system shown at IDEF, which power went up to 10 MJ.
To give an idea, the 400 kJ laboratory gun known as Prototype 6 of 2016 had a 2 meters long barrel, and could fire a 150 grams 12.7 mm round at Mach 1 at a range of 3 km. The Şahi-209 Block 1 of 2018 could accelerate a 300 grams 16 mm calibre round at Mach 3, with a range of 10 km, the barrel length being 3 meters. The model exhibited had a 7 meters long barrel and could fire a 35 mm round weighing 1.5 kg at a speed of over Mach 6 at a range of 50 km. This is considered Prototype 9, and is undergoing firing tests, some rounds having already being fire prior to IDEF. The 35 mm round is fitted with a discarding sabot, armour piercing and anti-personnel rounds being developed.
But the development is far from being concluded. Three more prototypes will be developed, n. 10 and 11 using the same 4.5 kg 56 mm ammunition; the first one to be developed will have a 9 meters long barrel and a PPS of 25 MJ, which will allow shooting the ammunition at over Mach 6 and a a range of 50 km. The next one will have a PPS of 60 MJ, the same round being fired at over Mach 8, allowing it to reach a target at 100 km distance, the barrel being 10 meters long. The last development, for the time being, will be Prototype 12, which will feature a 12 meters long barrel, a PPS of 100 MJ, and will fire a 76 mm round at over Mach 8 and at a distance of 150 km.
No data about the gun weight were available, neither those about the energy storage system, however Turkey seems definitely one of the countries believing in the replacement of gun powder with electricity. To develop the Şahi-209 Yeteknoloji teamed with other Turkish companies such as Figes Engineering, Ostim Teknoloji, Hizal and Adalar.
Photos by Paolo Valpolini