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Air Defense: Phalanx Mutates
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May 30, 2007: Britain is buying the new American Phalanx variant, to protect its air base in southern Iraq. The C-RAM (counter-rockets, artillery and mortars) version of the Phalanx is designed to protect large bases from mortar and rocket attack. The original Phalanx was a 20mm cannon designed to defend American warships against anti-ship missiles. Phalanx does this by using a radar that immediately starts firing at any incoming missile it detects. The C-RAM system has its software modified to detect smaller objects (like 82mm mortar shells). This came about when it was discovered that the original Phalanx could take out incoming 155mm artillery shells. This capability is what led to C-RAM.


Other modifications include linking Phalanx to the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar and Q-36 Target Acquisition Radar. When these radars detect incoming fire, C-RAM points toward the incoming objects and prepares to fire at anything that comes within range (about 2,000 meters) of its cannon. C-RAM uses high explosive 20mm shells, that detonate near the target, spraying it with fragments. By the time these fragments reach the ground, they are generally too small to injure anyone. The original Phalanx used 20mm depleted uranium shells, to slice through incoming missiles. Phalanx fires shells at the rate of 75 per second. Another advantage of C-RAM, is that it makes a distinctive noise when firing, warning people nearby that a mortar or rocket attack is underway, giving people an opportunity to duck inside if they are out and about.


The first C-RAM was sent to Iraq last Fall, to protect the Green Zone (the large area in Baghdad turned into an American base). It was found that C-RAM could knock down 70-80 percent of the rockets and mortar shells fired within range of its cannon. It took about a year to develop C-RAM, and another version, using a high-powered laser, instead of the 20mm gun, is in development.

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lastdingo       5/30/2007 9:18:46 PM
Certainly not.
The 20mm projectiles have neither time nor proximiy fuzes.
If the explosive projectile is used at all, it has a simple point detonation contact fuze.
But it's doubtful whether the HE bullet is used - the subcalibre kinetic energy bullet is afaik preferred for Phalanx applications for some time. The only reason to use the HE version would be the self-destruct that comes into play long after the target has been missed. THEN the fragments would be created and rain down with little danger to people on the ground.Maybe that's the origin of the misunderstanding?

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Lawman       5/31/2007 7:22:57 AM
If memory serves, the land based Phalanx / C-RAM uses HEIT-SD, i.e. high explosive incendiary tracer - self destruct rounds, originally developed for the M163. The rounds either explode on contact, or self destruct, which would tend to indicate they are not proximity fused, but impact fused, with a self destruct timing device. It is interesting to note, however, than 35mm guns like the Millenium gun can use proximity fused rounds, which carry sub-projectiles, so as to create a cloud of metal pellets right at the round. It might be sensible to investigate using the Millenium gun for the C-RAM mission, since it can be carried on a LAV or Stryker type vehicle, and with a suitable radar, it could make for a good Phalanx alternative.  
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benellim4       5/31/2007 4:11:11 PM
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