Weapons: China's Phalanx


October 2, 2009:  In the last five years, China has been installing a Chinese designed Type 730 30mm CIWS (Close In Weapon System) on its destroyers and newest frigates,  while planning an update that adds short range missiles.

Costing some $5.4 million dollars per unit, and weighing eight tons, the seven barreled, 110 inch long, cannon resides in a box shaped turret providing point defense against anti-ship missiles, aircraft, coastal targets, small boats and mines. With a rate of fire of 4,200-5,800 rounds per minute (rpm), the gun is fed from twin 500 round boxes and fires either High Explosive or Armor Piercing shells. By virtue of its caliber, performance exceeds that of the most famous CIWS, the U.S.20mm Vulcan ‘Phalanx’, but remains inferior to the Russian ‘Kashtan’ (Chestnut) twin 30mm CIWS.

 Its electronics consists of a small round radar extending from the left top of the turret for tracking and engagement as well as a color camera, heat seeking camera and laser range finder extending from the right top in a U shape mount, where a sensor filled ball rides in the center. The radar’s range is 8 kilometers for small targets and 15 to 20 kilometers for moderate to large targets. The Electro -Optical unit can track out to 6 kilometers. Once identified, the target is allowed to close to 3 kilometers, whereby the gun engages. 1 to 1.5 kilometers is the most opportune and accurate range, however.

Type730’s counterparts include the U.S 20mm ‘Phalanx’, a 1970s design that uses a 6 barreled, 73 inch long, gun with radar (10 kilometer range) and electro optical sensor (5 kilometer range) firing High Explosive and Armor Piercing shells at 4,500 rpm out to a range of 2 kilometers. Cost of the system is $5.6 million. Total systems weight is seven tons.

Russia’s ‘Kashtan’ mounts twin 6 barreled, 110 inch long, 30mm guns using radar (20 kilometer range), and electro-optical sensing (6 kilometer range),and fires High Explosive or Armor piercing projectiles out to a distance of 4 kilometers with a combined rate of fire of 10,000 rpm. Cost of the system is $7 million with a weight of 16 tons. -- Mike Perry