Home » Sea » Navy Overhauls Phalanx Ship Defense Weapon

Navy Overhauls Phalanx Ship Defense Weapon

by Kris Osborn on August 21, 2013

091227-N-1291E-121The U.S. Navy is pursuing a massive, fleet-wide upgrade of its shipboard defensive weapon designed to intercept and destroy approaching or nearby threats, the Phalanx Close in Weapons System, service officials said.

The Phalanx, or CIWS, is an area weapon engineered to use a high rate of fire and ammunition to blanket a given area, thus destroying or knocking threats out of the sky before they reach a ship. The Phalanx CIWS, which can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute, has been protecting ship platforms for decades.

The weapon is currently on Navy cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, among other vessels. The upgrades are designed to substantially increase capability and ensure that the system remains viable in the face of a fast-changing and increasingly complex threat environment, Navy officials said.

The overhaul includes numerous upgrades to the weapon itself, converting the existing systems into what’s called the Phalanx 1B configuration. At the same time, the CIWS overhaul includes the development and integration of a new, next-generation radar for the system called the CIWS Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2, Navy officials explained.

The Navy is currently installing both Phalanx CIWS upgrades on ships. The plan is to have an all CIWS Phalanx Block IB fleet by fiscal year 2015 and an all CIWS Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2 fleet by fiscal year 2019, said Navy spokesman Lt. Kurt Larson.

An upgrade and conversion of an older CIWS Phalanx configuration to Phalanx Block IB averages around $4.5 million per unit and a Block IB Baseline 2 radar upgrade kit averages $931,000 per unit, Larson said.

The Phalanx Block IB configuration incorporates a stabilized Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) sensor, an automatic acquisition video tracker, optimized gun barrels (OGB) and the Enhanced Lethality Cartridges (ELC), Larson said.

“Block IB provides ships the additional capability for defense against asymmetric threats such as small, high speed, maneuvering surface craft, slow-flying fixed and rotary-winged aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles,” Larson said. “The [forward-looking infrared sensor] also improves performance against anti-ship cruise missiles by providing more accurate angle tracking information to the fire control computer.”

The OGB/ELC combine to provide tighter dispersion and increased first hit range, he added.

“The Phalanx 1B fires Mk 244 ammunition, the Enhanced Lethality Cartridge specifically designed to penetrate anti-ship cruise missiles,” said Al Steichen, Business Development, Raytheon Naval and Area Mission Defense.

The Mk 244 ammunition is engineered with a 48 percent heavier tungsten penetrator and an aluminum nose piece, according to information from General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems.

The Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2 radar upgrade is a new digital radar that provides improved detection performance, increased reliability and reduction in sailor man-hours for system maintenance, Larson said.

“It mitigates obsolete components inherent in the existing analog radar by introducing COTS-based signal processing coupled with a new signal source and mixer,” he said.

The Baseline 2 radar also provides the Phalanx CIWS with “surface mode,” meaning it adds the ability to track, detect and then destroy threats closer to the surface of the water compared with previous models of the weapon, Steichen explained.

“It now gives the warfighter the ability to address surface threats which we have not had before,” he said.

In practice, this means the Phalanx equipped with Baseline 2 radar will have an increased ability to defend against fast-attack boats and low-flying missiles, projectiles and aircraft.

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{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

sickunclesam August 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Sounds as if the US Navy is concerned about Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles, and small fast attack boats. At least they are trying to get a head of it. I would feel better if we would also suddenly hear about how the navy is once again taking anti-submarine warfare seriously again too.

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Rest Pal August 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

"concerned"?

more like "scared to death"

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Charles James Haas August 27, 2013 at 12:53 am

As should any enemy of the United States should be. The Chinese are still working out technology we had over 40 years ago. I do not think the Chinese are something to be trifled with, but please, you are not even considering the technology that we hold as secret. If you look at most advances in the Chinese military, they are mostly copies of what we did decades ago.

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Rest Pal August 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm

yeah, I remember how the Vietnamese were so scared of America that they kicked the meddling American ass out of their country.

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james June 17, 2014 at 3:04 am

If you believe that the US military had anything to do with the S Vietnamese defeat in 1975 , then you may want to avail yourself of the data hidden from you in books.

BRASS August 23, 2013 at 10:11 am

Yes, and increasing reports of Irans' drastically increased avionic technology and drone and capability since Iran recovered intact one of our most sophisticated platforms; which immediately was offered to Russian and Chinese intelligence sources for examination in return for production data to aid Irans' nuclear weapons grade production and general electronic capability and knowledge of US capability and methods.

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Rest Pal August 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Why is the US so hesitant in making another illegal invasion against Iran?

It would be fun to watch how well the US navy can withstand the supersonic Sunburn ASCMs or its equivalents in a full blown naval conflict in the Persian Gulf.

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Charles James Haas August 27, 2013 at 12:48 am

You think war is fun? You are pretty sick. Now, concerning the SS-N-22 Sunburn, we have been using the Coyote target using essentially the same technology for years. And yes we can shoot them down. Iran generally has an incompetent military, not unlike Iraq. Most of its technology is bought from Russia or China. I have a saying, you have to be smarter that the machines you are working with. As the Iranians are not capable of making most of their weapons, it is hard to imagine their troops being smarter than their weapons. Iran was famous for its use of young children to clear minefields from what I remember. But, feel free to go join the Iranian military anytime you like.

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Rest Pal August 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm

HaHaHa. This nonsense of yours isn't even worth a rebuttal.

janes May 9, 2014 at 7:24 am

Do your homework, “PAL” Americas navy isnt the only player in the persian gulf, in fact up to 40 warships from uk, usa, france, nz, austrailia,and other asia pacific navys patrol there regularly mostly to protect against piracy, thes ships range in size from frigates to destroyer class. Iran? ha! We, New Zealand , upgraded our phalanx on our frigates to 1b recently, just finished a persian gulf, tour.

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brownie August 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm

You're 100% correct. This is probably the fastest reaction the USN has had to an unexpected but very specific threat (weapon system) only identified within the past 12-18 months. The rapid response to upgrade has been to an as yet unidentified Chinese anti ship missile. The only question is subsonic or supersonic?

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Rest Pal August 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

So … how much money do you think the US should borrow from China in order to pay Chinese or Russian or European engineers to help upgrade the useless CIWS on US naval vessels?

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james j June 17, 2014 at 3:26 am

“Useless” is quite a strong term. . I am curious to know what you have to back up such an absolute.

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brownie August 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm

The concern is over a Chinese anti-ship missile, and emerged within the past 12-18 months max. We con't know if it's a subsonic or supersonic weapon, but it's capable of defeating standard CIWS systems – even on Aegis equipped Burke destroyers! This is a very serious threat that demands an expeditious (low key) response by the USN. Kudos to the navy for a rapid response.

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Captain Obvious August 21, 2013 at 11:05 pm

US NAVY BUILT FORD TOUGH

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blight_ August 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Not Huntington Ingalls, Bath Iron Works, Newport News?

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RRGED August 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm

US NAVY will soon be as TOUGH as ADMIRAL "BULL" HALSEY!!!

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shipfixr August 23, 2013 at 9:32 am

….Whose real nickname was "BILL"….

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Big-Dean August 22, 2013 at 12:12 am

yep, it seems that the Navy has awaken from it's 15 year slumber (after the Russian fleet went away)

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joe August 22, 2013 at 3:54 am

The key phrase in thw whole thing is probably "mitigates obsolete components". Capability enhancements are a bonus no-one will turn down, but if the thing ain't supportable its gotta be refitted or replaced.

Faster, lower antiship missiles and big (relatively), slow-moving (relatively) rotorcraft and small boats are such a wide target variety that I'd just file the improvements under "just plain better" rather than necessarily saying it's being optimised for a specific role.

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samuel wilson August 22, 2013 at 7:48 am

Cant they just have drones that sit out in the ocean about 100 meters from the ship and when a missile attack comes in the drones take flight and lift a net up 100m so all missiles will just hit the net? The drones can be cheap and recoverable. The net can be cheap and recoverable and repaired easy. A light elastic super strong material. Then you could put the nets up either side of the carrier like a corridor which would still allow the aircraft to take off.

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Joe_Sovereign August 22, 2013 at 10:18 am

Drones that drag a net in the water at 30 knots as the ship crosses the entire ocean?

As a bonus the crew could eat all the fish they catch in the net.

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Aj Smith August 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

Come on now, A net and Drones? You think that would be more cost effective than shooting them the fuck down? A net is not going to stop a missle.

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Bernard August 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

That only works in Batman…

When you come up with a net that can stop a 530 MPH 1,140 lb Harpoon missile, while still being light enough that drone could move this net into the path of that missile from any direction, 100 meters out from a 333 meter long air craft carrier, within a 2 minute or less reaction time, in all weather on the open ocean, let us know.

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@HomingLasers August 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Hey, if it can catch a hockey puck, it can catch an 1000lb AShM, that's just science

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VVW August 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Hey, If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!

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blight_ August 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm

The more convincing alternative is picket drones that follow the mothership and extend the CIWS range envelope a little farther out. More guns, different angles, Hail-Mary crossfire?

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orly? August 22, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Creative, and probable.

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TLAM Strike August 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

A long time ago this was tried against torpedoes. Warships would sling nets on booms to protect their sides from torpedo boat attacks. Problem was that newer faster torpedoes equipped with net cutters to slice though them making the useless. The idea stuck around though WWII but it was more of a defensive system for use in ports. Now the problem with using this against ASMs is that they can fly over the net, missiles like the Harpoon can be programed to do a pop-up maneuver before striking the ship. If you are going to use drones why not arm them with some kind of flak gun to engage attacking ASMs that way you have a mobile ASM screen that can be directed to the area of most danger, even deploy it to protect other ships in the group.

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amused August 23, 2013 at 1:38 am

Canthagous is a thought defect with symptoms that include whimsical and malformed perception of real world issues.

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d. kellogg August 22, 2013 at 8:04 am

The only real shortfall here is that the Phalanx is still a 20mm system.

For the performance gain in just stepping up to 25mm, as is standard in USMC LAVs, the USN Mk38 gun (or any system using the M242 Bushmaster chain guns), and now the F-35 (if/when they actually have a gun),
the Phalanx woulda been better served stepping up to use the same 25x137mm NATO ammo.
The 25mm gun family currently is the tried-and-trusted 5-barrel GAU-12 of the USMC Harrier, and the 4-barrel GAU-22 that select F-35s will get.
It would be little effort to engineer 6- or even 7-barrel optimized designs to get even higher rates of fire suitable for CIWS roles.

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Thomas L. Nielsen August 22, 2013 at 11:45 am

No development needed.

OTOBreda (now OTO-Melara) and Oerlikon co-developed the Myriad CIWS using two (count 'em…two) 25mm 7-barrel Oerlikon KBD Gatling guns (http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNIT_25mm-80_Myriad.htm).
It never entered service, but I see no reason it couldn't be resurrected.

Or if 25mm is a little too wimpy for you, go straight to the Goalkeeper CIWS, mounting a 30mm GAU-8 (http://www.thalesgroup.com/Portfolio/Documents/Air_Systems_Datasheet_-_Goalkeeper/).

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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d. kellogg August 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I know of them both,
but I was looking at "recycling" the Phalanx footprint, if not as much of the actual hardware as possible.
The original SeaRAM does just that: utilizes the Phalanx components all except the gun and ammo system, which is replace with a RAM missile container.
The Phalanx sensors actually outrange the gun's effective range by considerable margin: it's why it works with the RAM missile.
http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/sea

My preference would be swapping in a 5-barrel 25mm (GAU-12, ~3600RPM), or even develop a more optimized 6- or 7-barrel (higher rate of fire),
that won't take up as huge a footprint (and above-deck weight) as the much larger Goalkeeper and Myriad systems do (which need external ship's sensors for detection and direction).

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drone August 23, 2013 at 11:58 am

One could also retain the 20mm and develop an APFSDS round for it.

A more aerodynamic projectile with higher sectional density would fly faster for longer, and penetrate deeper. You could also replace rifled barrels with smoothbores, giving you even higher velocities due to the reduced friction.

Basically everything that worked for modern tank guns could be scaled down to 20mm.

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orly? August 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Smaller caliber, more ammo.

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oldtcs August 24, 2013 at 3:49 am

I've been out for 20yrs, so maybe I missed something, but has cheese-whiz EVER failed to kill anything it hit? The upgrade looks like just a tighter pattern, and a different projectile. Sounds good to me. Is there a performance gap somewhere that has to be addressed?

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HardwareFreak August 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm

> The only real shortfall here is that the Phalanx is still a 20mm system.

A larger caliber weapon would only gain range. The 20×102 @4500 SPM is plenty lethal at a sufficient standoff distance to prevent enemy weapons from hitting the ship.

The key design point of the original Phalanx CIWS was that it could be welded to the deck anywhere there is physical space for the weapon mount. Plug the cables in and you're done. It was designed to be compact in order to mount the most boat types not only in the US fleet but allied fleets as well, and capable of working on smaller craft as the recoil forces aren't extremely high.

The 25mm and 30mm rotary cannon are so large, bulky, and have such high recoil, that they must mount through the deck, greatly limiting the the number of guns that a ship can mount, and limiting the mounting location to basically the bow and the stern. For evidence of this simply take a look at the European ships that mount the Goalkeeper.

For any ship that mounts two Goalkeeper units, one bow, own stern, it's usually possible to mount 6 or more Phalanx guns with overlapping fields of fire. Given the turret speed of the Goalkeeper and the lower ammunition load, a peroper wave formation of missles in a saturation attack would be successful as the guns would run out of ammo. This is much less likely with 6 or more Phalanx guns as each carries more ammo, you have 3x or more guns, and the number of rounds to kill a target missle are the same for 20mm and 30mm weapons.

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JCitizen August 28, 2013 at 11:07 pm

In school I worked on the math for a 37mm Gatling type weapon, that used the old anti-tank round from WWII. It was HUGE, and very impressive, but the thing would probably have cleared the entire deck from all the tremendous gasses it generated! My dynamics teacher was the one that helped create this monstrosity. It was mounted in an old 5 inch naval gun cupola. He said it was an ecstatic experience to see it go off!

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d. kellogg August 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Oddly enough, the US did at one time consider a 37mm rotary cannon (gatling gun) as an air defense system.
(scroll down to the Vigilante system…) http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/RED%20QUEEN.htm

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JCitizen August 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Very interesting site! The one we looked at was similar to the tank turret example, but much more massive. It would only fit on an old world naval battle cruiser! I wished I had a link, but I've since forgotten the name of the research program, and even the professor who headed the project. Too much brain damage – O.o

frank ricciardi September 4, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Liked your coment but (and Im asking)sint a rule of thumb the smaller the caliber the higher the cyclic rate or rate of fire the CIWS is a last ditch effort to save one of our ships I know the 25mm round has more propellent ,but isint the mas of steel and the tungsten penetrator from the 20 mm enough of a pattern if they upgrade the radar? I dont know if cyclic rate applies to a multi barrel weapon lets just say rate of fire . and have you read abuot the sucsess the army has had deploying these around FOB for in comming ordinance

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Joe Lupinski August 22, 2013 at 8:21 am

While the upgrade is nice are they finally going to pull their heads out of their behinds and start fully equipping ships with this system? A lot of the new Arleigh Burkes didn't even have them installed claiming that newer missiles will be able to shoot down any incoming threat….. no offence thats fine but I would think you want a back up if that doesn't work. In the end they ended up putting at least one on the rear of almost all of the ships. That's great so if the missile is coming at you from head on you need to turn 180 degrees as a last resort to do anything about it? Great planning guys.

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MASTERCHIEFMO August 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Actually you only need to make a 30-45 degree turn and you are set.

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Jmm September 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

That and the ship is moving so the rear is the most logical place to expect to receive an attack

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Rest Pal September 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm

why is Arleigh Burkes' rear end the most logical place to expect an attack?

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franklin August 22, 2013 at 8:41 am

COTS signal processing likely means faster but more delicate, almost certainly not the least bit EMP hard, possibly using materials not approved for mil parts, eg pure tin solder…there may be reliability reductions over time.

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d. kellogg August 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Even though the COTS acronym stands for Commercial, Off-The-Shelf, it doesn't alway mean civilian-side commercial products.
It can just as well pertain to already-available military components that are already in inventory, don't need further research to reach production, and can be incorporated into different applications without considerable additional expense.

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Alvin, US Navy (R) August 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

About time the 1B's are finally getting to all of the ships. The COTS upgrade has been in the works for some time. COTS is needed to phase out a very good system but an older high maintenance system. The lower the maintenance the fewer personnel required for the ship to have onboard. Which means fewer of our sons and daughters in the line of fire.

As far as upgrading to a 25 mm, this would defeat the purpose of having a self-contained small foot print system that can be replaced in short notice in time of conflict. Take a look at the Goal Keeper which utilizes the GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm (A-10 gun) for example that requires two decks and a magazine 3 times the size and weight. There really is no compromise with the 25mm. 20mm is the optimal size round. besides the round is actually smaller since the round is in a sabot. It just uses the punch of the larger 20mm cartridge.

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d. kellogg August 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm

The footprint (cubic volume, deck space) the 20mm Phalanx occupies could easily accomodate a model with either the current 4-barrel GAU-22 or 5-barrel GAU-12 25mm guns.
Having lower rates of fire than the 4500rpm M61 20mm, (fires in bursts, not continuous for minutes on end, not enough ammo), the recoil impulse should not exceed the 20mm gun by too much to overburden the mounting.
And the key reason I'd switch to 25mm,
in addition to commonality, is the extra range and damage.
Naturally the ammo drum will be slightly larger in diameter, the feed chutes a tad wider, but the additional weight should be tolerable.

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CHOPS August 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

I'm glad they still have the Phalanx CIWS,weren't they talking a few years ago with replacing all Phalanx with Sea Sparrows as CIWS?

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Guest August 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I think RAM was supposed to replace Phalanx. But for some reason, Phalanx keeps
on truckin'. Is it because 20mm rounds are cheaper than missiles?

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USS ENTERPRISE August 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Maybe cause Phalanx works….

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d. kellogg August 24, 2013 at 11:26 am

In pretty much every test and mock exercise, yes.
But to date, no Phalanx, or any CIWS (SeaRAM, SeaSparrow,) has been used by a USN ship to bring down an inbound threat (missile, bomb, hostile aircraft), at least nothing released publicly.

The Stark was struck because its CIWS was in standby mode, but not active, as there were concerns of accidentally engaging nearby friendly assets (once a fully-contained automated system is switched on to Active, the Phalanx of that day and age most likely did NOT have a very discerning IFF system built into it, so anything remote mimicking a hostile flight pattern could be engaged. Today's variant is much more unlikely to result in friendly fire incidents.)

So, like many weapons systems, what looks great in tests, trials, and mock exercises (where targets are programmed to steer away from the ship in sufficient time), we can only hope works as effectively under truer-to-life situations.

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orly? August 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Tbh, its also easier to reload.

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Rest Pal August 24, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Sea Sparrows are far more expensive than Phalanx, and yet as ineffective as Phalanx against all but the most primitive models of anti-ship missiles.

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MASTERCHIEGMO August 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

naaaah! That was a Russia Wish List :)

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Matt August 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

One thing never mentioned is the ammunition load. I think it is a great asset but carries very few rounds for what we are told these days will be a very saturated environment. How long does it take to reload? Seems impossible to add more ammo base on current configuration.

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Frank August 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm

CIWS System hold sufficient ammunition for 3 engagements. The CIWS in the Green Zoe killer three separate mortar runs in a single engagement. All flying simple ballistic arch’s. The bigger question is can the System handle multiple supersonic maneuvering targets…!

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d. kellogg August 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Keep in mind though: in most ships, Phalanx is the last ditch weapon when longer-range systems (missiles, various countermeasures like jammers and passive/active decoys) fail, or can't be utilized in time, or in such close proximity to the ship.
Hence the term "Close-In Weapon System).

The goal of these optimization upgrades is to make the weapon have more secondary roles than just anti-missile defense.
The only concern in doing so, though, is what happens if the ship detects inbound missiles while its Phalanx was busy expending ammunition at other targets?
I'd absolutely opt for a larger ammunition capacity.
Whatever happened to those special 2000-round drums they developed for the F-111 back in the day?

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orly? August 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm

As a former operator of this system, I can say 15 minutes optimum each system.

Real battlefield conditions, probably 30 minutes each system.

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hibeam August 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

An automated robotic system. I thought they were too dangerous? Why not a few sailors inside that dome to make it safe for all mankind?

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pleuris August 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm

One word…Goalkeeper….

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orly? August 22, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Which is just a larger CIWS…

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William_C1 August 25, 2013 at 7:14 am

Not necessarily a bad thing. There are more advanced gun-based CIWS concepts as well as concepts that combine gun and missiles, but we could do worse than a modernized version of the Goalkeeper.

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john August 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm

The problem has never been the effectiveness of the Phalanx. The problem has been making sure it's turned on. The ships that have been hit by missiles have had their CIWS turned off most of the time.

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Big-Dean August 22, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I prefer the 2BXL version they used on "Battleship" they never seems to run out of ammo ;-P

I think the USS Sampson could've use one ;-P

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tr-usnr August 23, 2013 at 1:16 am

we need it for phillipine navy ships

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Amarjit Singh Bajwa August 24, 2013 at 10:36 am

The Navy of the Philippines understandably needs these "self defence" systems most urgently, due to the aggressive Chinese deployment very close to their territorial waters. The Philippines Armed Forces seem to be the worst equipped of all the nations that have territorial / border disputes with China. It would have been a different story if USA had thought of the long term implications, when withdrawing after the Vietnam debacle. Retaining the Clarks Air Force Base, while closing down Subic Bay, would have been a more pragmatic step, specially when the future rise of China was already foreseeable !

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Rest Pal August 24, 2013 at 10:12 pm

You don't know what you are talking about.

The dispute between the Philippines and China / Taiwan are nothing more than a few scattered rocks in the shallow South China Sea. Unlike the US and Japan, which have tried to colonize the Philippines in the past, China has never demonstrated even a remotely comparable aggression toward the country.

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Mark August 23, 2013 at 10:01 am

How about use changeable magazines of this system. http://www.metalstorm.com/IRM/content/area-denial

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blight_ August 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I wish metalstorm would die.

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DB Cooper August 23, 2013 at 10:48 am

Guys,
COTs mean commercial off the shelf. It cuts down developmental time. Sounds good but the military typically doesnt test the crap before they issue it. I see it on the military commo all the time. They buy it and no one ever tests it to see if it works as billed or where its going to fail. I have no doubt that to save money and time the navy didnt bother with testing.

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blight_ August 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm

COTS works when COTS is "close enough" or "good enough" for military applications. I'm sure a number of electronics in commercial use can be made available to specifications that closely overlap military requirements. In those cases, reinventing the wheel is a waste of time. For instance, if the Army wanted to buy automobiles, it would be a waste of time to issue an RFP for a new design of automobile instead of buying a fleet of Ford or Chevy vehicles. But there is no COTS for thinks like tanks and strategic bombers, in which case they must be built to suit, possibly with COTS bits and pieces.

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d. kellogg August 24, 2013 at 11:50 am

COTS components are nice,
but we need also consider where the near-term future can go as well.

Query Mobile Centurion, it's the HEMTT-mounted Phalanx utilized in the C-RAM role defending military bases.
Now look at this EAPS system, under development (and looks good so far),
but the actual weapon mount occupies the same footprint of the Phalanx, complete with AESA modules that have the potential to replace the Phalanx "R2D2" dome.
http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2012armaments/Wednesday1

Steerable 50mm shells have a considerable range and damage advantage over anything 20-30mm.

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Amarjit Singh Bajwa August 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm

If one is looking at 50 mm, then why not save costs by adapting the currently available 57 mm from BAE ? It should also reduce development costs for miniaturization of various components. However, the basic question is whether one wants a target kill with a "direct hit" into the target that achieves warhead destruction / detonation, or a "proximity"burst that causes damage through blast and fragmentation. The latter may not stop the incoming threat "dead in it's tracks" So, what will be the "end objective" of the steerable projectile fired from this 50 mm, or 57 mm gun ?

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d. kellogg August 26, 2013 at 7:46 am

Years earlier (mid 1990s), when they were still called UDLP (United Defense) prior to BAE acquisition, they were working on a 60mm ETC (Electro Thermal Chemical) gun system firing command-guided shells, that also fit into the Phalanx footprint; it actually DID use the Phalanx trunnion assembly for some time.
Point being, development of guided shells in these calibers predates today's attempts.
Ford Aerospace and Vought were even tinkering with guiding 40mm shells in the late 1980s for the now-forgotten M247 Sgt York twin 40mm DIVADS.
I'm just surprises there has been no mention whatsoever anywhere about BAE furthering the UDLP guided shell development into the 57mm gun.

The premise of the 50mm weapon, was it uses a "hybrid" variant of the reliable Bushmaster Chain Gun family.

I still have the product data sheet from UDLP on the 60mm ETC, but nothing is out there on the web. The EAPS program is easily found though.

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d. kellogg August 26, 2013 at 7:55 am

With regards to airburst versus direct impact kill, the 40mm and 57mm Bofors/BAE guns can both utilize the same impressive 3P fuze system, and the shells have an optimized prefragmentation design (tungsten pellets and an internally-scored shell wall that bursts apart in a more desireable pattern than just random fragmentation).
Pretty stuff here: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2003gun/boren.pdf

The 57mm in USN service does (or will) utilize a US-designated variant of the 3P fuze.
The last I knew of the 50mm EAPS projectile, it used a forward-focused multi-fragment explosively formed penetrator, directing molten fragments in a forward cone capable of destroying missiles, rockets, and even artillery and mortar shells. Against aircraft the effect would be downright impressive.

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drone August 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Also worth mentioning the OTO-Melara Dart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnrA4VfjgPI

drone August 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

As a side note, the claimed penetration of the APFSDS 40mm round of >120mm RHA is mind blowing. If such ammunition had been developed during the second world war, many heavy tanks would have been vulnerable to relatively light guns, which could have been autocannon like the twin 40mm guns on the M42 Duster.

William_C1 August 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Impressive concept. I seem to recall an earlier one which featured a similar system on the M993 launcher and featured additional Stinger launchers. Is this related to that?

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d. kellogg August 26, 2013 at 8:04 am

Boeing has refined the Avenger turret system to be multiple-weapon capable: missiles from the Stinger to Sidewinder and Hellfire can be mounted, those 70mm rockets with laser guidance, and guns from the 1000rpm 50-cal M3 to the the "new" LW25 Chain Gun that fires smarts grenades like for the 25mm "Punisher" and the crew-served OCSW/ACSW (M307) machine gun grenade launcher.
Current developments have been utilizing Sidewinder airframes with a new guidance section for use as a C-RAM system.

I've always thought that this should be an ideal route to pursue: aircraft have used stores pylons capable of multiple weapons types for decades, so why not something for ground units.
Or even, a multiple-weapon-capable launcher like this would be an ideal system to give an LCS a lot more firepower, and the Avenger pedestal/turret is not a large system at all.

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blight_ August 26, 2013 at 9:52 am

Getting strange flashbacks to the Ground-Launched Hellfire that never got off the ground, and the more obscure ground-launched AMRAAM that floats about in (Norway?)

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d. kellogg August 27, 2013 at 8:20 am

I actually think one of the Scandinavian countries does use mobile ground-based Hellfire launchers in a coastal defense role, but can't recall if its Sweden or Norway.

Oddly enough, post-9/11, there have been at least 3 NASAMS systems (publicly known), a 6-cell surface launcher for SL-AMRAAMs, utilized to defend some of the airspace in the DC area.
http://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/All-News/2005/

For a time, various websites discussed the all the conspiracists' BS and how some of the launchers are/were randomly moved around to different locations…

M Flynn August 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Recently a Russian warehouse full of new Russian anti-ship missiles was mysteriously and completely destroyed in Syria. Multiple Israeli cruise missiles fired from a submarine was suspected, with US assistance. There were definitely no planes in the sky.

It was reported that they skim the surface at 2 1/2 times the speed of sound and that NATO and US ships have no defense against them.

The Phalanx is only roughly aimed. It is not accurate at all. It is like a shotgun. The smaller and faster a missile is, the more likely it can get through the shot pattern created by the phalanx. Since it is a question of probability, we can expect that many anti-ship missiles would be fired simultaneously.

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phil marks. ex navsea August 27, 2013 at 8:25 pm
Steve August 27, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I did too and they don't miss. A "roughly aimed" system would not walk up the tow cable once it had shot a towed target drone off said cable, and that was my old MK15 Mod0 mount, sn 043 to be exact.. Surely the new mounts are even better than that old dinosaur.

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Phil Marks. ex navsea August 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm
Phil Marks. ex navsea August 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm
Guest August 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm

The generally accepted cause of the partial destruction of a warehouse full of Yakhont anti ship missiles is an Israeli airstrike; not an attack by sub launched cruise missiles. Certainly not Mach 2.5 Israeli missiles. You're confusing the target (Yakhont missiles) with the weapon.

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M Flynn August 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm
John Ritenour November 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

The Phalanx is very accurately aimed. The system tracks both the incoming missile and the stream of bullets going out. It then seeks to reduce the angular distance to zero. To this date the Phalanx is the only gun based CIWS (Close In Weapons System) to have successfully intercepted a manuvering supersonic target. Phalanx is not designed as a primary weapons system for combatant ships ie frigates, cruisers, destroyers, etc. These ships use their missile batteries to knock incoming cruise missiles down. When you hear a CIWS going off in a war zone, It because you have a leaker, ie a cruise missile that got through all the other defenses on the ship. On support and auxiliary, ships, Phalanx functions as the primary AAW (Anti-Air Warfare) system because it's all that they have. Even if the CIWS destroys the target, you still have shrapnel to deal with. The exception to this is the Italian Super Rapido 76 mm system and the Bofors 57 mm system. Both of these have longer intercept ranges – but at considerable added costs and shipboard footprint.

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phil marks. ex navsea August 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm

When they are on and working, they don’t miss. I know, I worked on them.

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John Ritenour November 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I was stationed at PERA ASC in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. When I was there we still had the Newport Class LST's, LPD's, LSD's, LPH,LKA's and LHA's. The LHA's had Sea Sparrow, & the Phalanx. The rest of the classes only had 2 CIWS Mounts, except for the LST's which only mounted 1. The PHALANX isn't perfect – but it is a good system. Also -many folks asked why we didn't buy the Goalkeeper, Millennium Ahead System, etc. The answer is simple – cost and shipboard footprint. Whereas most navy's had to buy only 20 or 30 systems at the most, The USN had buy over three hundred total. Plus, compared to the other systems, the shipboard footprint of Phalanx is a lot smaller. Phalanx doesn't require deck penetration or significant alterations to the ship. All you need is 440 and 60 cycle power, cooling water, and a compass input. That is a lot less than most other comparable systems.

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phil marks. ex navsea August 27, 2013 at 8:23 pm

When they are on and working, they don’t miss. I know, I worked on them.

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Rest Pal August 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm

stop spamming false claims please.

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phil marks. ex navsea August 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm
John Moore August 28, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I thought the effectiveness of CIWS was the tight feedback loop between the radar tracked target and the radar tracked outbound projectile stream. CIWS doesn't just "blanket an area" – it is a precision weapon.

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Paul Aguilar August 29, 2013 at 12:46 am

Hypothetically……what if an enemy were to fire a barrage of 'dumb missiles' then the ship killer behind them. Would the Cwiz be able to distinguish the big bad dude from the pesky little dudes? Or will the Cwiz simply shoot @ everything……….including the fragments of missiles already destroyed?

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meflynn August 29, 2013 at 2:59 am

Paul, are you bucking for promotion to admiral? Clever strategy.

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d. kellogg August 29, 2013 at 1:46 pm

"dumb missiles" ?
Don't they call those "rockets" ?

:-P

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Rest Pal September 2, 2013 at 1:18 am

Why would any US CiWS need to distinguish decoys from armed missiles when the CiWS can't track and shoot either?

The CiWS on US naval vessels are not there to stop incoming missiles – they are there simply to make the sailors feel better.

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Larry Zane Neff September 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

You are sadly mistaken my friend,,,,Coming from a CIWS technician with 6+ yrs experience.. A CIWS weapon system can search, track, and engage a target the cross sectional size of a coke can moving at over two and a half times the speed of sound.. It can also take target designations from the Aegis weapon system that can track over a hundred targets at once..Yes, the sailors feel better..because it is there…When left to it's own internal system the CIWS cannot distinguish from friend or foe, but if you are in a situation that warrants you putting it into full auto, then there is no time to distinguish between either…If it comes at the ship in a threatening manner(Those parameters are pre set) It WILL kill them…And shoot the little pieces that are left flying..THAT I PROMISE YOU!!!

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John Ritenour November 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm

CIWS has a low speed and size gate in the radar. So it won't track chunks of a missile below a certain size and/or speed. They also fixed the issue where it would lock onto helo blades as well. Because of the nature of the system, CIWS doesn't have an IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) – if you are a plane and you approach the ship above a certain speed and phalanx is turned on – it will evaluate you as a threat and proceed to open fire.

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mikeDee August 29, 2013 at 6:54 am
mikeDee August 29, 2013 at 6:55 am
Bob Miller FCC August 30, 2013 at 12:57 am

As a plankowner in the CIWS project it still remains as effective as ever, "IF IT FLYS, IT DIES" was the credo on the 3 ships I sailed with CIWS. The rest just happens. We always called it the 8 second war. I was lucky to either 3 or 4 systems on my ship. Wardroom jitters was my biggest problem….

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galloglas September 1, 2013 at 11:10 am

Has even one CIWS ever been used in actual combat?
If RoE set high above the Captain of the ship doesn't release CIWS weapons free then Bubba it ain't a gonna work.
Waste of effort.

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d. kellogg August 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

I agree.
But what is of real interest is that they suggest the 40mm has "optimized" growth potential as much as 50% more…
180mm pen? that's 7 inches.
(In the case of Bushmaster gun development, "optimizing" generally has referred to better case designs of length, diameter, and shoulder/shell neck taper, and newer more more modern propellants).

Good lord, and we're satisfied with merely settling on 25 and 30mm guns for AFVs and shipboard use?

I love the looks of that LEMUR-Whatever turret there with the multitude of guns.
As impressive as it looks on that Bradley hull, I can only then suggest, why isn't such a weapon system the preference for the LCS Surface Warfare Module and the Mk46 (MK44 30mm) turret system on the San Antonios?

Ther LCS would certainly be much better served by it than just 30mm turrets.
And what about as a considerably formidable upgrade for those Cyclone-class patrol boats?

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Thomas L. Nielsen August 27, 2013 at 11:08 am

Regarding the coastal-defence Hellfire, according to the ever-reliable (ahem!) Wikipedia, it's Sweden and Norway both: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-114_Hellfire

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg (expat Dane)

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