Surface Forces: Phalanx Gets Sharp Eyes



p> May 29, 2008: The U.S. Navy has developed a video camera (with 18:1 zoom and night vision) for its Phalanx 20mm automatic cannon. This system is a final defense against anti-ship missiles. As originally designed, you turned Phalanx on whenever the ship was likely to have an anti-ship missile fired at it. The Phalanx radar can spot incoming missiles out to about 5,000 meters, and the 20mm cannon is effective out to about 2,000 meters. With incoming missiles moving a up to several hundred meters a second, you can see why Phalanx is set to automatic. There's simply not much time for human intervention.


Since 2003, there have been two major Phalanx mods. In one, the Phalanx was adapted to use on land, to shoot down incoming  rockets. This was done by using a larger artillery spotting radar, which directs Phalanx to  fire at incoming mortar shells and rockets. Not all the incoming stuff is hit, but nearly 80 percent of it is, and every little bit helps.


The second mod is for shipboard use, and changes the software so the Phalanx can be used against small boats, especially those of the suicide bomber variety. This is where the ALMTV (Phalanx All-Light Marine TV) attachment comes in. With the software modification and ALMTV, Phalanx becomes a complete defense against small boats.  There are nearly 600 Phalanx systems installed in warships worldwide.


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