The Phalanx Mk 15 Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) provides shipboard automatic defense against anti-ship cruise missiles. Only 1 Mk 15 CIWS is installed per ship and consists of 1 or more Mk 16 Weapon Groups, the same number of Mk 339 local control panels, and 1 Mk 340 remote control panel.
The Mk 16 Weapon Group is composed of:
The Mk 16's computer classifies threats detected by the search radar and lays the mount on the target azimuth. The J-band tracking radar follows both the target and the M61's bullet stream. The computer uses a closed-loop spotting technique to reduce the difference between the radar line-of-sight and the projectile trajectory to zero. The mount ceases fire when the target is out of range or destroyed.
The projectile is a Mk 149 sub-caliber (12.75-mm) Depleted Uranium (DU) penetrator that is 2 1/2 times as dense as steel. The "heavy" metal can inflict much greater damage on a missile's skin than a conventional projectile of the same weight. It is sheathed by a nylon sabot and spun initially by an aluminum "pusher." Procurement of the depleted uranium projectile ceased in 1990, and all Phalanx ammunition purchases since then have been of the tungsten penetrator. Using the tungsten penetrator will lower costs and simplify storage and handling. It was estimated that all Phalanxs will fire a mix of DU and tungsten penetrators until 1996, when the DU stocks were exhausted.
Phalanx can be used against surface targets by using conventional optical target designators. The US Navy discourages this practice, preferring to use other light guns against small surface combatants.
Lockheed Martin, USA.
Weight, Mk 16 Block 0, empty 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) Block 1, empty 12,756 lb (5,786 kg) Block 1, loaded 13,629 lb (6,182 kg) Armament bore 20 mm/76 cal elevation Block 0 -10/+70 deg Block 1 -25/+80 deg traverse (Block 1) +155 deg slew rates (Block 1) elevation 92 deg/sec train 126 deg/sec Performance maximum range 1,625 yd (1,486 m) rate of fire Block 0 3,000 rpm theoretical maximum Block 1 4,500 rpm theoretical maximum muzzle velocity Block 0 3,280 fps (1,000 mps) Block 1 3,600+ fps (1,097+ mps) reaction time 60 seconds from being switched on to being operational 2 seconds from threat detection projectile Mk 149 sub-caliber (12.75 mm) depleted uranium penetrator magazine capacity Mod 0 Block 0 980 rounds Block 1 1,562 rounds Fire Control VPS-2 pulse-doppler, J-band search and track radar with closed-loop spotting which follows both target and its own 20-mm projectiles high-speed digital computer automatically engages incoming, high speed threat unless countermanded by the operator Crew unmanned Protection enclosed mount
First production variant. In production from 1979 to 1987. Mod numbers indicate number of mounts on a particular ship. Mod 1 1 mount per ship. Mod 2 2 mounts per ship Mod 3 3 mounts per ship Mod 4 4 mounts per ship
Parabolic search radar is replaced by four-plate back-to-back search radar array for better high-elevation coverage. Mount has greater ammunition stowage, higher rate of fire, and enhanced reliability and maintainability. In full production by October 1987. First installed in summer 1988 in WISCONSIN (BB 64) and CORAL SEA (CV 43). Mod 11 1 mount per ship. Mod 12 2 mounts per ship Mod 13 3 mounts per ship Mod 14 4 mounts per ship
All US Navy Phalanxes were scheduled to be upgraded to Block I standards by 1997.
A number of improvements are being considered for the CIWS to counter improvements in anti-ship missile performance. The Block 2 version must be capable of search- while-track operation, and have increased detection range, increased track accuracy, and greater computational power. Block 2 would also be operational immediately upon being switched on. Proposals include a General Electric twin 25-mm gun and a Tround quadruple breechless gun. Alternatives include adoption of a foreign CIWS, including an updated Goalkeeper mount. (Goalkeeper , which combines the US 30-mm GAU-8/A Gatling gun with Dutch fire control, is being fitted into British and Dutch ships; see separate database entry.) Budget cuts may force the Block 2 to be based on the current system. This would eliminate the Goalkeeper from consideration.
Issues and Notes
The installation of Phalanx CIWS came several years after the appearance of similar rapid-fire guns systems, of larger caliber, in Russian surface warships. Most foreign CIWS designs include 25-mm or 30-mm rapid-fire guns rather than the smaller 20-mm/12.75-mm of the Phalanx.
The CIWS on the USS STARK (FFG 31) did not engage the French-built Exocet AM-39 air-to-surface missiles launched against the ship by an Iraqi aircraft on 17 May 1987. The CIWS was not activated at the time. In the Senate Hearings before the Committee on Appropriations for FY1986, US Department of Defense officials were asked about the effectiveness of the CIWS against Exocet missiles, to which they replied, "In recent operational tests, PHALANX destroyed numerous EXOCETS in an impressive fashion."
The Canadian destroyer ATHABASKAN, frigate TERRA NOVA, and replenishment ship PROTECTEUR were hurriedly readied for their September 1990 Persian Gulf deployments. Among other refits, a Phalanx CIWS was mounted on a support platform built over the empty Limbo well on the ATHABASKAN and TERRA NOVA. 2 mounts were fitted in the PROTECTEUR. The ATHABASKAN had been scheduled to receive the PHALANX during her TRUMP overhaul; no plans had been made to add the system to the other 2 ships.