An intriguing video has recently emerged, showcasing an extraordinary creation housed in a garage: a downsized replica of the Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) capable of firing airsoft BB gun pellets at a remarkable rate. Constructed by Kogoro Kurata, CEO of Japan-based robotics company Suidobashi Heavy Industry, this scaled-down Phalanx is nothing short of impressive.
In the video, the miniaturized Phalanx, mounted on a pickup truck, takes aim at a target made from heavy paper material. The BB gun pellets discharged from the airsoft Phalanx swiftly bisect the target, leaving no doubt about its striking effectiveness.
The authentic Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS, manufactured by Raytheon, is armed with a variant of the renowned M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon and boasts an awe-inspiring firing rate of 4,500 rounds per minute. Originally developed as a ship-based defense system, the Phalanx has been employed by the U.S. Navy since 1980 to protect vessels from threats such as cruise missiles and aircraft.
Variants of the Phalanx are utilized by naval forces worldwide, including the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces. Additionally, a land-based iteration named Centurion was introduced in 2004 to counter incoming rockets and mortar rounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Expertise in robotics
Kurata’s expertise in robotics, coupled with his prior accomplishment of creating the four-meter-tall Kuratas robot prototype, has led to the creation of this remarkable airsoft Phalanx.
The Kuratas robot gained widespread recognition after participating in a 2017 Megabots robot battle, ultimately emerging as the victor. Notably, the Kuratas robots — which also shoot BB gun pellets — can be custom ordered for approximately $1.35 million.
For the airsoft Phalanx, Kurata incorporated a CAW Minigun manufactured by Craft Apple Works based in Japan. The CAW Minigun bears a strong resemblance to the M134 Minigun used in the actual Phalanx. The airsoft Phalanx’s dome, which houses the model’s search and tracking radars, serves as a reservoir for around 900,000 airsoft BB pellets.
Standing at approximately 2.3 meters (just over 7.5 feet) in height, including its pedestal, this miniature version masterfully captures the essence of the real Phalanx system.
Resuming the plan: the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way
Kurata’s journey to develop the airsoft Phalanx faced initial setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he recently resumed his work, diligently documenting the various stages of completion on his Twitter account. The construction process involved assembling the core structure, installing the CAW Minigun, and integrating hydraulic systems for rotational and vertical movement.
Furthermore, Kurata ensured the model closely resembled the authentic CIWS by incorporating a camera reminiscent of the side-mounted Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera found in the Block 1B variant of the Phalanx.
With the airsoft Phalanx now proudly mounted on the back of a pickup truck, Kurata hints at forthcoming trials of its capabilities in a “wider place” via his Twitter account. This exciting prospect ignites curiosity about the model’s potential applications and its performance in various settings.
While the real Phalanx holds a distinctive place in popular culture, often drawing comparisons to fictional characters like Minions and R2-D2, Kurata’s airsoft version stands as an extraordinary achievement in its own right. As we eagerly anticipate further updates, it will undoubtedly continue to captivate and astonish with its ongoing displays of ingenuity and technical prowess.
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