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Watch: A Navy ship’s last line of defense: The Phalanx autocannon

Phalanx CIWS (AiirSource Military/Youtube)
March 11, 2016

If an enemy vessel breaks through the perimeter around a U.S. battleship or other vessel, they turn to their super-powered CIWS (Close-in Weapon System): The Phalanx.

The Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun that can defeat anti-ship missiles and other close-in threats on land and at sea, according to the Navy.

This killing machine is the grand finale of the U.S. military and should scare any adversary.

Phalanx CIWS (AiirSource Military/Youtube)

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This 13,600-pound beast holds 1,550 rounds of 20mm armor-piercing Sabot ammunition, and can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute through its six-barrel close-in weapon system. It has a maximum firing range of 2.2 miles.

On the waters, the Phalanx will conquer and divide, wiping out missiles and other threats to naval operations. Once it identifies a threat, the threat is immediately eliminated.

The Phalanx weapon system automatically replaces and takes over the work of multiple systems. It will manually search, detect, evaluate the threat, track it, engage, and destroy. There is nothing like it.

Check out this bad boy in action:

All U.S. Navy surface combatant ship classes have the Phalanx weapon system installed. “Phalanx is the only deployed close-in weapon system capable of autonomously performing its own search, detect, evaluation, track, engage and kill assessment functions,” the Navy noted.

When the Phalanx identifies a threat that is within maximum “kill” range, it goes to work. It releases an array of bullets and will blow up any warhead before it reaches the target.

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The Block 1B variant has “integrated, stabilized, Electro Optic sensors” which enable the Phalanx to “counter small high speed surface craft, aircraft, helicopters, and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS),” according to the Navy.

The cost of one Phalanx weapon system is around $5.6 million.

(AiirSource Military/Youtube)

Some history of the weapons system began when a prototype was placed on the USS King back in 1973. The sole purpose was to evaluate the system.

Two years later, a different prototype was placed on the USS Alfred A. Cunningham and was tested by various missiles challenging it.  The Phalanx succeeded in destroying all incoming threats.

In 1977, more tests were conducted on the USS Bigelow and it was determined that the Phalanx far surpassed all expectations.

Phalanx Block 0 production started in 1978 and Phalanx Block 1 saw service introduction in 1988 with enhanced upgrades, according to NavWeaps.

Phalanx’s land-based modification, the C-RAM, has been used for more than a decade. The first two C-RAM systems arrived in May 2005 in Iraq and have been every bit as successful and powerful as they were meant to be.