Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR April 2014 Contents 26 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter APRIL 2014
Are the Australian LHDs special in some way that
might exclude them from being fitted with a capable
self-defence armament suite? Is it wise that capital
ships with such vast capability are restricted to being
escorted by surface combatants into a combat zone
because of their inability to defend themselves?
Options for enhancing the LHDs’ self-defence
capabilities fall into two categories: gun and missile
Of the former, the Rheinmetall Air Defence
Millennium 35mm naval gun system is an obvious
candidate. The Millennium gun is in service on
the Danish 6,600 tonne Absalon-class multi-mission
support ships and Iver Huifeldt-class frigates and
Venezuelan Guaicamacuto-class patrol vessels.
In February 2014 it was selected by an undisclosed
European navy under a 12 million euro contract, which
covers two Millennium gun systems, spares, technical
documentation and services related to maintenance
training and system integration.
The Millennium gun uses the Advanced Hit
Efficiency and Destruction (AHEAD) ammunition,
with each round dispensing 152 tungsten alloy
sub-projectiles that form a cone-shaped pattern to
destroy a target outright or its control surfaces, seeker
and other vital components as it travels through the
Keep out ranges vary from 1,500-3,500 metres
depending on the threat type, but the very high hit
probability of the 35mm AHEAD ammunition allows
the Millennium gun to defeat ASMs at ranges three to
four times greater than conventional solid projectile-
based CIWS such as Phalanx or Goalkeeper.
Rheinmetall cites that a 25 round burst from the
Millennium gun’s revolver cannon can achieve a kill
against a manned aircraft at 3,500 metres, against
guided missiles/cruise missiles at 2,000 metres and
against a sea-skimming ASM at 1,500 metres. Rate of
fire against surface targets is typically 200 rounds per
minute and 1,000 rounds per minute in burst mode
against airborne targets.
A bolt-on mounting, the remotely-controlled
Millennium gun requires no deck penetration or supply
of coolant or ship’s power to operate. It is designed to
be controlled by the ship’s fire control and command
system. The Millennium gun carries 252 ready-use
rounds of AHEAD ammunition on the mount, with
Rheinmetall claiming that quantity of ammunition is
sufficient for 10-20 engagements.
The in-service Phalanx Block 1B CIWS is also, of
course, an option but its 20mm ammunition restricts
engagement/stand-off range to less than that of
the Typhoon 25mm system under ideal conditions.
Maximum hit probability for the Phalanx against a
target is achieved at around 460 metres.
Designed as an ASM defence system, Raytheon’s
SeaRAM is a marriage of the search and track sensor
package from the Phalanx Block 1B CIWS and the
RIM-116 RAM guided weapon system.
Self-contained and autonomous, the SeaRAM
mount features its own multi-spectral sensor suite,
combat system and weapon, the latter comprising
an 11-cell RAM launcher in place of the Phalanx’s
20mm Gatling gun. The fire-and-forget RAM, which
is currently installed or planned for installation on
78 USN and 30 German Navy ships, is highly
manoeuvrable and can travel at more than Mach 2 out
to around 9km.
SeaRAM is the primary self-defence armament
on USN Littoral Combat Ships and is to be fitted
to Japan’s new 27,000 tonne Izumo-class helicopter
SeaRAM fits the same deck footprint of the Phalanx
20mm CIWS, uses the same power and operator
control panel and consoles, thereby reducing the
training burden for existing Phalanx Block 1B users.
This article, of course, is in no way a comprehensive
assessment of available candidate weapon system
solutions or the design and engineering work required
Landing HeLicopter docks
The Millennium 35mm naval gun system requires no deck penetration and is a cost-effective alternative or adjunct to
missile-based defence systems. (Credit: Rheinmetall)
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103)
fires its Phalanx close-in weapons system. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass
Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes/Released)
27/03/14 4:43 PM
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