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Phalanx Gatling Gun (CIWS)

Phalanx Gatling Gun (CIWS) - Info on Phalanx weapons system

Designator : Mk 15/16
Close In Weapon System (CIWS)
Name: Phalanx Gatling Gun


The Phalanx is a self-contained, shipboard self-defense gun using a modified M61 Vulcan six-barrel Gatling cannon, built-in pulse-doppler J-band fire control radar, and digital computer. It is intended to treat attacking anti-ship missiles. The US Navy uses the designations mk 15 and Mk 16 to refer to CIWS.


Initial operational capability 1980. In production by Pomona Division, General Dynamics Corp., Pomona Calif.. General Electric has a contract to qualify as second source for the system and is the supplier of all M61 guns. In service in some 200 US ships with plans to equip 250. Also in service with several foreign navies.


  • Navy
    • Aircraft Carriers (3-4 mounts)
    • Battleships (4)
    • Cruisers (2)
    • Destroyers (2)
    • Frigates (1)
    • Amphibious Command Ships (2)
    • Helicopter Carriers (1-2)
    • Amphibious Transport Docks (2)
    • Dock Landing Ships (2)
    • Tank Landing Ships (1)
    • Ammunition Ships (2)
    • Combat Stores Ships (2)
    • Combat Support Ships (2)
    • Replenishment Oilers (1)
  • Coast Guard
    • High-endurance Cutters (1)
  • Australia
  • Great Britain
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Israel
  • Saudia Arabia


Weight, Mount: 12,000 lbs (5,443)

Armament Performance

Maximum range: 1,625 yd (1,486 m)
Rate Of Fire: 3,000 rpm theoretical maximum
Muzzle velocity: 3,280 fps (1,000 mps)
Reaction time: 2 seconds from threat detection
Projectile: Mk 149 sub-caliber (12.75 mm) depleted uranium Penetrator 2 1/2 times as dense as steel within a nylon sabot and spun initially by an aluminum “pusher”.

Magazine Capacity

Mod 0 Block 0: 980 rounds
Block 1: Approximately 1,450 rounds

Fire Control

VPS-2 Pulse-doppler, J-band search and track radar with close-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: Weather protection for mount radar
Block 1:

Has improved radar with four-plate back-to-back search array for high-elevation coverage, greater ammunition stowage, higher rate of fire, and enhanced reliability and maintainability. Authorization for limited production in 1986


The installation of Phalanx CIWS came several years after the appearance of similar rapid-fire gun systems of larger caliber, in Soviet surface warships. Most foreign CIWS designs include 25-mm or 30-mm rapid- fire gun rather than the smaller 20-mm of the Phalanx.

Program Acquisition Costs (In Millions)

Procurement(24) 102.2(5) 28.1(5) 19.4
Initial Spares1.81.61.1
Military Construction—-—-—-

Unit Costs (FY1988) $5,604,600

Operational Notes:

The CIWS on the USS STARK (FFG31) 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. In 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.”

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