POTD: R2D2 Gatling gun

    Fantail Fire – the subject of Today’s Photo Of The Day here at TFB.

    The aft close-in weapons system on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima reminds me of R2D2 in Star Wars.

    A close-in weapon system, or CIWS for short, is a point-defense weapon system for detecting and destroying incoming missiles and enemy aircraft which may have penetrated the outer defenses. Works good on drones, too.

    Phalanx CIWS with M61 Gatling gun

    A gun-based CIWS – pronounced “sea-whiz” – usually consists of a combination of radars, computers, and multiple-barrel, rotary rapid-fire cannons placed on a rotating gun mount. It can be missile-based as well, but the CIWS pictured clearly isn’t.

    To the best of my knowledge the CIWS pictured is a Phalanx CIWS, using a 6-barrel 20×102 mm caliber M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon.

    The rate of fire? The M61A1 does up to 6 000 rounds per minute and the M61A2 is a little bit busier in sending those 20 millimeter rounds at 6,600 rounds per minute. I wish I could type that quick, and still make sense, but I can almost imagine the M61’s sound when it goes berserk like in the picture.

    The M61 is hydraulically operated and electrically fired. Designed already in 1946 and in service since 1959.

    Guidance system

    The Guidance system is not filled with midgets, like R2D2 in Star Wars (yes, you should click that link). but a Ku band radar and systems from FLIR to see what the eye cannot.

    I just wonder how the setup is in the computer, once the operator let’s this this thing go: “If stuff moves then press trigger”. “If stuff stopped moving  release trigger”.

    Old gun meets modern guidance systems, just beware of your back-stop.


    The photo is taken by Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Coxwest, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, October 2018 during exercise Trident Juncture 2018. Source. Source.

    In case you missed it, check out the Light Armored Vehicle shooting out into the sea from the USS Wasp.