By Paolo Valpolini
Considering current Turkish Navy needs, MKEK (Makine ve Kimya Endüstrisi Kurumu A.Ş., Machinery and Chemical Industry Inc.), the Ankara-based company active in the artillery, small arms andammunition business, launched two programmes aiming at providing national naval forces with Turkish products, which will replace those imported until now from foreign companies. Two such systems, a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) and an artillery system, where exhibited at IDEF 2021, bith developed with company funding.
Until now Turkey has been a good customer for Italian Leonardo, many of its naval units being equipped with the 76/62 mm gun designed in La Spezia which barrels are already produced under license by MKEK. As Ankara is trying to reduce as much as possible its dependency from foreigh manufacturers, in order to avoid any possible problem related to embargos, which ha vealready caused delays in some programmes that included foreign subsystems, the MKEK move goes in that same direction. Looking at the data sheet, this is very much a look-alike of the Italian product. With a weight of less than 7,500 kg without ammunition, 80 ready rounds can be hosted in the feeding system, the National Naval Artillery Gun, this the definition of the MKEK product, has a maximum rate of fire of 80 rounds per minute. The cooling system exploits sea water or fresh water for keeping temperature under operational limits. Fitted with a slip ring it can continuously rotate in azimuth, training speed declared being of 60-65 °/s, with an acceleration of 72°/s2. The elevation arc goes from –15° up to 85°, such a high elevation being needed as the gun can be used not only in anti-surface and shore bombardment duties, but also in air defence; elevation speed is of 35-40 °/s, with an acceleration of 72°/s2. With standard ammunition the National Naval Artillery Gun can reach range of 16 km, which increases to 20 km when using extended range rounds. Two options are available for power supply, 440V 3 phase 60 Hz or 115 V 2 Phase 60 Hz. According to MKEK officials the programme is in advanced development stage and one prototype has already been produced, which will be test fired “in a few months time,” according to the EDR On-Line interlocutor.
Beside the 76/62 mm gun, another product aimed at the Turkish Navy was exhibited for the first time, the YHSS (Yakin Hava Savunma Sistemi) short range air defence system. At first glance the system is very much similar to the US Phalanx CIWS, its effector being a six-barrel Gatling gun produced by MKEK itself. The whole system, without gun and ammunition, has a weight under 3,500 kg, split between the above deck system that contains the gun and sensors, and the under-deck power unit. The drum contains 1,500 20 mm rounds, the YHSS rate of fire being up to 3,000-4,000 rounds per minute. Aiming is carried out thanks to an optronic system with day and thermal channels and a laser rangefinder for accurate distance measurement; those sensor are hosted in a module installed on the top of the system, while ammunition drum is fitted under the gun. According to EDR On-Line sources the feeding system proved to be the most critical development item, considering the very high rate of fire of the system.
The YHSS can be integrated into the ship sensors systems, exploiting available radars for initial target acquisition; EDR On-Line understood that MKEK will integrate a radar in the system, the Phalanx is fitted with a search and a tracking radar, however the company declined to mention the radar producer, the sensor being made in Turkey. MKEK YHHS has an elevation of –15°/+85°, the mount angular velocity being 100°/s ±10%, and is powered by 400-440 VAC at 50-60 Hz. The company is planning to start land firing trials before year end, naval trials being planned for next year, the programme being expected to be completed in the second half of 2022.
The two aformentioned system might replace in due time imported systems such as Oto Melara 76/62 mm gun, as well as Phalanx and Sea Zenith CIWS systems. MKEK obviously looks not only at the national need but as soon as its new naval systems will be fully developed will also push them on the international arena, IDEF 2021 having been the opportunity for showcasing them for the first time.
Photos courtesy MKE and P. Valpolini