Turkey announced it successfully tested an electromagnetic kinetic weapon – referred to as ‘railgun' – which shoots metallic projectiles at hypersonic speeds. This makes the country join the other developers of this kind of weapon: Russia, the US, China, and India.
"Sapan" railgun (Picture source: Twitter account of YenisafakEN)
The weapon has been named "Tübitak Sapan," or "Tübitak Slingshot," after Turkey's Scientific and Technological Research Council (Tübitak). Weapons similar to Sapan are capable of firing a projectile as far as 100 km, at speeds of up to 3,500 meters per second (12,600 km/h). The Sapan has been tested at 9,300 km/h, faster than Mach 7.5. Ankara intends to boost the velocity of the round to Mach 8.5 (10.500 km/h), making it almost impossible for a target to defend itself, Business Times reports. The hypervelocity round is very difficult to intercept, and, since it has no electronics inside, it is immune to jamming and electronic warfare. In one live fire tests, a railgun successfully pierced a one-meter-thick reinforced concrete bunker.
This kind of weapon consumes an extremely high quantity of energy. In order to fire at 10 rounds per minute (one shot every six seconds), a railgun requires some 20 megawatts, the output of a power plant used to light and heat some 250 small homes.
First tested in 2014, Turkey's Sapan is a byproduct of Tübitak's research into inertial confinement fusion technology, also known as controllable thermonuclear energy, Business Times reports. Turkey reportedly plans to build eight TF-2000 class frigates, equipping them with full-scale combat-ready versions of the Sapan railgun.