Sherq Engineering setting its sights on turrets

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A Pretoria based engineering firm is designing and producing custom built turrets for customers as far afield as Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE as well as numerous African countries.

Sherq, which is based in Pretoria but has decentralised manufacturing operations with its partners across the world, has been in operation for the last seven years. It has designed turrets that are uniquely South African in IP, but totally platform and weapons systems agnostic.

“We pride ourselves on working very closely with our customers,” explained technical director Rolf Dieterich, “we have developed unique features on our turrets that we can customise to their specifications or put into production immediately if they are standard.”

Three of the turrets were on display at Africa Aerospace and Defence 2022 last week. The KS1 is the basic gunner protection turret capable of being scaled up in size and ballistic protection to mount anything from a 5.56 mm weapon all the way to the much heavier .50 calibre machine gun or Russian KPVT 14.5 x 114 mm.

Then there is the KS2 one-man turret, which can handle 5.56 mm all the way to the 30 x 133 mm cannon as used on the Apache attack helicopter or mount the Russian 14.5 x 114 mm, while maintaining 200 rounds per minute in controlled fire.

The KS3 is a low profile turret with a very high rate of fire, carrying 500 rounds for the main weapon and 1 000 rounds for the co-axial machine gun, while the KS4 is a low profile, fully electric, stabilised high tech turret that is a rival for the current turret being produced for the SANDF’s long overdue Project Hoefyster IFV fleet replenishment project.

“We have learnt a lot in the development of these turrets that goes much further the engineering of them,” Dieterich told defenceWeb. “We have developed unique building blocks which have allowed us in many cases to actually improve the weapons systems that are mounted in them, adding features to them that they were not designed with and extending their life of service because our firing platforms are much smoother and gentler.”

Some of Sherq’s building blocks include improving muzzle breaks and buffering to allow for the KS3 and the advanced KS4 turret to be fully stabilised, meaning that the accuracy of the main weapon and its rate of fire is unaffected by the behaviour of the vehicle, which in turn does not need to slow down or come to a complete stop for effective accurate fire to be laid down.

The turrets are electric with manual back-ups should the electric circuity become disabled in combat situations. They can also be fitted with a wide range of options should the customer desire them, from the entire range of external sensors from thermal cameras to laser pointers and blue force trackers to automatic grenade launchers.

Sherq’s hallmark innovation and agility was necessitated by the nature of the market, said Dieterich. Most defence procurement deals are government to government negotiations, but increasingly there is a need not to be behlden to a single supplier in an ever changing and increasingly contested geo-political situation.

“Our business model throughout has been to foster a close working relationship with the customer. We support them to empower themselves to take charge of the product. We want to partner with them for years to come, not just chase on a once off deal.”

Just as the turrets can be fitted to carry western or eastern European systems and fitted to either kind of hull, so too is the pricing highly adjustable – and the level of localisation.

“We can make the turrets anywhere in the world, we comply with whatever level of localisation they want and we can either design a custom solution for them or go straight into production the very next day if it is something we designed.

“To make sure the client is absolutely certain of what they want, we give them the turret and the weapon system to test themselves and then we start modifying from there.”

The KS4 is a case in point, as there three different versions in Azerbaijan, Italy, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.