China Is Testing A Beastly 20-Barrel Naval Gatling Gun

As China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) continues to expand the size and capabilities of its surface fleets, including with the addition of larger, more advanced vessels, including multiple aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, the demand for more capable CIWSs is only likely to grow. This has already been evidenced by the addition of the new Type 1130 to the Liaoning. Though the discussion is more commonly framed around the increasing threat that advanced Chinese, as well as Russian, anti-ship missiles, including longer-range and faster-flying hypersonic and ballistic types, present to other navies, the PLAN faces the same realities.

A CIWS with a 20-barrel Gatling-type cannon with a very high rate of fire would, by definition, be able to put out more rounds, faster. This would be particularly valuable for engaging existing and future advanced anti-ship missiles, which are increasingly faster and stealthier, features that could shrink the available engagement window for close-in defenses. At the same time, unless the magazine capacity is similarly increased, this weapon might only be capable of firing a small number of total bursts before needing to be reloaded.

So, while it remains to be seen if this particular 20-barrel design will make its way into operational service, it’s hardly surprising that the PLAN is looking at bigger and badder CIWSs that can spew out shells at even more blistering rates of fire as new threats continue to emerge.

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