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20mm Mk 15 Phalanx



Overview


20mm Phalanx Block 1B

20mm Phalanx Block 1B close in weapon system firing during an exercise. Note the FLIR system on the left of the search radar housing.
Source: US Navy - © Public domain

Origin
United States
Type
Close-in weapon system
Entered service
1980
Status
In service
Development
1970's
Developer
United States - General Dynamics
Production
1973 - 1977 (prototypes)
1978 - present (series production)
Producer
United States - General Dynamics
Unit cost
About $12 million
Number produced
About 900
Designations
Mk 15 (US Navy)
Notable users
United States
Japan
United Kingdom

Description


Introduction

The Phalanx is a late Cold War era CIWS system of US origin. It was developed as a last ditch system to protect against anti-ship missiles. Alternatively, it can be used against nearby aircraft and helicopters.

Design

The Phalanx is based around a single 20mm M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Acquisition radar and fire control radar are fitted on top of the Vulcan in a large dustbin-shaped cylinder. Later models add a FLIR optronics suite which allows for remote manual control against surface targets. Compared to other CIWS with on mount radar systems the Phalanx has a limited weight and is quite easy to integrate.

Firepower

Armament of the Phalanx consists of the 20mm M61 rotary barrel autocannon, which is also used in various US fighter aircraft. Armor piercing rounds with tungsten or depleted uranium rounds are used. A total of 989 (early) or 1.500 (late) rounds are in the linkless feed system. Early models have a 3.000 rpm rate of fire. This is increased in the latest models tot 4.500 rpm. Effective range against missiles is 1 to 1.5 km. Manual guidance against land based or floating targets is effective up to 3.5 km.

Users

The Phalanx is one of the most widely used CIWS systems, both in production number and number of end users.

Details


20mm Phalanx Block 1A

20mm Phalanx close in weapon system firing during an exercise.
Source: US Navy - © Public domain

List of variants

Block 0
Initial production model, introduced in 1980. Features solid state electronics and 989 round linkless feed system.
Block 1
Improved model, introduced in 1988. Areas of improvement include better radar, faster firing solutions, 1.500 round feed system, faster spin-up time of the rotary cannon and increased maximum elevation.
Block 1A
Similar to Block 1, but with improved fire control computer and higher cyclic rate of fire. Improves effectiveness against sea skimming targets and maneuverable targets. Introduced in 1996.
Block 1B
Upgrade introduced in 1999. Adds an optronics suite with FLIR system. This allows the Phalanx to be used against surface targets, such as small attack craft. Longer barrels on the M61 improve accuracy and muzzle velocity.
Facts Mk 15 Block 0 Mk 15 Block 1 Mk 15 Block 1B
General
Origin
United States
Type
Close-in weapon system
Ordnance
Type
20mm M61A1 Vulcan
Rate of fire
3.000 rpm
Range
1.5 km practical
3.5 km maximum
Muzzle velocity
1.100 m/s
Barrel length
1.52 m
Mount
Feed mechanism
Linkless feed system
Ammunition
989 rounds
Traverse
-150° to +150°
Traverse speed
100°/s
Elevation
-10° to +80°
Elevation speed
86°/s
Operation
Crew
None on mount
Fire control
Ku-band radar
Dimensions
Weight
5.4 t
Height
4.7 m
Deck penetration
None

Media