Surface Forces: China Perfects A New 30mm Anti-Missile Defense

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January 13, 2015: The Chinese Type 1130 multibarrel autocannon has been confirmed as the final production version of what was previously called the Type 1030. The 1130 has 11 barrels (one more than the 1030) and two magazines carrying over 1280 rounds of ammo. That is enough to engage over 40 targets before needing a reload. Top rate of fire is 10,000 rounds a minute (166 per second). This robotic weapon is radar controlled and, when turned on, automatically fires at incoming targets while under software control. It is similar in function to the U.S. Phalanx. The 1130 has five times more ammo ready-to-fire than the 1030 along with many refinements added during years of development. Because of its size, weight and large power requirements the Type 1130 is only installed on carriers and large destroyers.

This new weapon was first spotted in 2011 when the new Chinese aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (formerly Varyag) was seen with at least two of the then-new “Type 1030” automatic cannon systems. The Type 1030 appeared to be an upgraded (to ten barrels) model of the older Type 730 (seven barrel) and Type 630 (six barrel), close-in anti-missile automatic cannon. All fire 30mm shells at incoming anti-ship missiles, aircraft or anything else deemed a danger to the ship. The 1030 turned out to be still in development and the final version was the 1130.

Also seen on the Liaoning in 2011 were four 18 cell launcher for FL-3000N anti-missile missiles. The FL-3000N is similar to the American RAM anti-missile missile system, except that they come in 24 missile and 18 missile launchers and are less accurate. FL-3000N was only introduced in 2008, and uses smaller missiles than RAM. The FL-3000N missiles have a max range of nine kilometers (about half that for very fast incoming missiles). The 120mm, two meter long missiles use a similar guidance system to RAM, but are not as agile in flight.

Missiles are increasingly preferred over cannon for short range anti-missile defense. Thus over the last decade, the U.S. Navy Phalanx 20mm autocannon anti-missile system has been more frequently replaced by SeaRAM. What's interesting about this is that SeaRAM is basically the Phalanx system, with the 20mm gun replaced with a box of eleven RAM (RIM-116 "Rolling Air Frame") missiles. The Phalanx was developed in the 1970s, and entered service in 1977 (about the same time as the original Russian Type 630).

RAM was developed in the 1980s, and didn't enter service until 1993. RAM has a longer range (7.5 kilometers) than the Phalanx (2-3 kilometers, or 3.5 kilometers for the 30mm weapons) and was originally designed to be aimed using the ship's fire control systems. Phalanx, on the other hand, has its own radar and fire control system and, once turned on, will automatically fire at any incoming missiles. The latest Type 630/730/1130 operate the same way. This is necessary, as some anti-ship missiles travel at over a 500 meters a second. With SeaRAM, you've got a little more time, and can knock down the incoming missile farther from the ship. This is important, because it was feared that a large, very fast anti-ship missile (which the Russians prefer, and sell to foreigners), even when shot up by Phalanx, might still end up having parts of it slam into the target ship. Since SeaRAM has eleven missiles ready to fire, it can also engage several targets at once, something the Phalanx could not do.

The RAM missiles are 127mm in diameter, three meters (9.3 feet) long and weigh 73.6 kg (162 pounds) each. The terminal guidance system is heat seeking. Basically, it uses the rocket motor and warhead from the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and the guidance system from the Stinger shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile. SeaRAM missiles cost about $450,000 each, which is probably at least 50 percent more than the FL-3000N missiles. SeaRAM is meant to provide protection for combat support ships that normally have no defenses, or at least no combat radars and fire control system. The new LCS will use the SeaRAM as well.

Like most modern carriers, the only weapons carried are anti-missile systems like Type 1130 and FL-3000N, plus some heavy machine-guns (which are often kept inside the ship, and mounted outside only when needed.) However, Russian practice was been to sometimes install long range anti-ship missiles as well. China may also do this with Shi Lang.

 

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