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Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS)
Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System
Description: The Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System
(CIWS) is an integral element of the Ship Self-Defense System
(SSDS) and the anti-air warfare defense-in-depth concept. CIWS
is a radar-controlled, rapid-fire gun designed as a fast-reaction
terminal defense weapon against anti-ship cruise missiles
(ASCMs) penetrating outer fleet defenses. CIWS is capable of
firing 4,500 rounds of penetrator ammunition per minute and is
integrated with a search-and-track radar and weapon-control unit.
A unique closed-loop fire control system that tracks both the
incoming target and the stream of outgoing projectiles gives
CIWS the capability to correct its aim to hit fast-moving and
maneuvering targets. Enhancements to existing CIWS
capabilities include the new High Order Language Computer
(HOLC), which improves Phalanx performance against high-
speed maneuvering targets. The Phalanx Surface Mode (PSUM)
which uses electro-optical systems to provide day/night detection
capability and enables the CIWS to engage small surface targets,
slow-moving air targets, and helicopters has been developed
and is scheduled for operational testing in FY 1998.
Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS
Program Status: More than 400 CIWS systems
have been deployed at sea on U.S. warships
since the system was first tested in August 1973.
Development and Operational Testing (DT/OT) of
the HOLC fire-control system was completed in
FY 1996, using the Self Defense Test Ship.
Testing of the Phalanx Surface Mode capability
continues in FY 1998.
Developer/Manufacturer: Raytheon Missile
Systems Company, Tucson, Arizona.
Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS
MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS)
Primary FunctionAnti-ship missile defense
ContractorHughes Missile Systems Company
(formerly General Dynamics' Pomona Division, sold to Hughes in 1992)
Weight12,500 pounds (5,625 kg)
Later models 13,600 pounds (6,120 kg)
RangeClassified Gun TypeM-61A1 Gatling
Type of Fire3,000 rounds per minute
- Later models 4,500 rounds/min
(starting 1988 production, Pneumatic Gun Drive)
Magazine Capacity989 rounds
Later models 1,550 rounds
AmmunitionArmor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS),
Depleted Uranium sub-caliber penetrator.
Penetrator changed to Tungsten 1988.
SensorsSelf-contained search and track radar Search RadarKu-band; digital MTITrack
RadarKu-band; pulse Doppler monopulseE/O SensorFLIR Imaging System with Automatic
ACQ TrackerFire ControlDirector with closed-loop spottingGun DrivePneumaticMount
Date Deployed1980 (aboard USS Coral Sea)
Later models 1988 (aboard USS Wisconsin)
The M61 Vulcan is a hydraulically or pneumatically driven, six-barreled,
air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style cannon, which fires 20 mm
rounds at an extremely high rate. The M61 and its derivatives have
been the principal cannon armament of United States military fixed-
wing aircraft for fifty years. The M61 was originally produced by General
Electric, and after several mergers and acquisitions is currently
produced by General Dynamics.
The Vulcan is a Gatling gun: each of the cannon's six barrels fires once
in turn during each revolution of the barrel cluster. The multiple barrels
provide both a very high rate of fire—around 100 rounds per second—
and contribute to long weapon life by minimizing barrel erosion and
heat generation. Mean time between jams or failures is in excess of
10,000 rounds, making it an extremely reliable weapon. The success of
the Vulcan Project and its subsequent progeny, the very-high-speed
Gatling gun, has led to guns of the same configuration being referred to
as Vulcan Cannon, which can sometimes confuse nomenclature on the