Why we, and the US Navy, need the 30mm

I found the video above through a post from Defense News “Rafael unveils video of counter-drone capability on Typhoon weapon.” The vessel in the video is, I believe, the Israeli built, Shaldag V class, Philippine Navy patrol boat BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG-902). Presumably the video was taken during the vessel’s trials.

While the story is about the latest 30mm version of the Typhoon Remote Weapon Station, the lesson for the Coast Guard (and the Navy) seems to be that the new 30mm air burst ammunition fired from the Mk44 Bushmaster II gun, which is also part of the M38 Mod4 system, provides a Counter UAS capability that is not possible with our current 25mm guns.

If that were not enough, we have known for a long time that the 30mm is much more effective than the 25mm against even small surface craft.

The air burst is not the only type of round that is available for the 30mm but not the 25mm. There is the swimmer round that makes it more likely the gun can punch a hole in the hull below the water line. It is also likely to be more effective against ships’ propulsion machinery.

18 thoughts on “Why we, and the US Navy, need the 30mm

  1. Seems we are going with the same gun on the MSI seahawk mount. I like the seahawk as the targeting sensor is off mount and I am guessing more stable as a result.

    • The good news is that it was MSI who did some of the trials with the Programmable Airburst Munition (PABM) for the 30mm Bushmaster so they’re pretty familiar with it. See the videos at the below link:


      They also have Starstreak and Martlet available for mounting on the starboard side in a 4 round launcher. The RN trials of Martlet on the mount were successful (albeit using a development mount using the 5 round Wildcat missile pannier). Martlet in particular is turning into a bit of a rockstar at shooting down Russian UAV’s in Ukraine.

  2. So right !!!
    Use at best what you have is paramount, just a gun with up to date sensors and new proxy fuze is quite cheap and light to add counter drone capabilities easily, as with Typhoon 4, I believe MSI Seahawk DS 3 is much more powerful weapon system with mmw radars, but more expensive and difficult to implement, because it involve both weapon mount and ship so time consuming, indeed future are laser.
    Against economic drones you may stay on economic side too if you want a feasibile defense trought time not just few golden bullets.
    Same with addition of expensive missile, maximum we can add laser guided 70mm rockets (we are full of it to convert).
    This is my opinion up to date, bye.

      • Golden bullet it’s not worth, laser is future as I just explain in my opinion comment before. Rarely expensive special weapons are the solution because usually you need weapons in great numbers.
        F22 numbers are just enough to think about defence of north America otherwise you have to defend United States with old F16 against SU57 or/and J20. Hope it will be done better with next F36.

      • Except “Laser” is only on a handful of ships, and NOT likely to be fleet deployed by the entire fleet before 2030! What is the stopgap measure until the entire fleet is equipped with lasers! Short answer, “Expensive Golden Bullets”…

      • No 30mm bullets with a good ball of visual sensors, no mmw radar or missiles. In future lasers.
        This against drones and fast crafts from Sentinel CG cutter to destroyers, one or two weapons, no LMM or Martlets or whatever.
        More sophisticated/expensive drones/missiles must be managed by legacy system from RIM116 to SM6 at six 0 price

      • Nobody is going to put all they’re eggs into one basket on a Laser soley point defense system until some mileage has been accumulated on the laser system until 2040 at the very least! So whether you like it or not Golden Bullet ammunition is here to stay until at least then, if not longer…

      • If there is so much money, why not.
        If there is no enough money, it’s an irresponsible dream and the money you know is missing.
        Forget Ferrari for every driver.
        Probably someone will have to take even the public transport.
        Otherwise we can get on this ships all the golden bullets wanted and limit to one Amraam for each fighter jet air-to-air munition, could be a preferable solution.
        Around the world are plenty of dictatorial regimes with their existence threatened solely by being of free democratic countries “bad” example, which must be extirpated from this planet.
        Bielorussia, China, Cuba, Russia, North Korea, Turkey, Venezuela and others…

      • Shipboard Lasers aren’t mass produced, taking up to a year just to produce one! Also current AB LaW’s Laser is rated at ~120-kW, whereas lasers for yet to be constructed DDG X are rated at ~600-kW each! Bullets are cheaper and easily mass produced, even Golden Ones…

      • You are dumb or you play it, which part laser is future you do not understand?
        You bring some interesting news and I love read your comment sometimes, but here I clearly point is not possibile to dream about expensive golden bullets where there is no money to buy it and stop!
        Which is main mission, how to accomplish this mission, how to manage eventually new treats (drone) in the cheapest way.
        This is the drive, not sutisfy my ego or dreams, but discuss and suggest a viable solution if possible focusing on the article brought by Mr. Chuck Hill.
        I will be happy to have, for example, Sentinel cutters armed with 30mm gun, air search AESA radar, JAGM, LWT and a sonar… (please don’t wake me up).
        Please do not hurry up to answer just something without bringing some new idea only for pleasure to be last one to say it or you’ll confirm it is as it seems.
        Thank you very much indeed
        If I totally misunderstood my apologies in advance.

      • Who and which country is “Mass Producing” lasers!/? None that I’m aware of, including the United States…

  3. Re the conversation between Roberto Piedimonte and Secundius

    Valid points on both sides, this discussion is probably raging in DOD right now.

    Lasers hold a lot of promise, but they are still in the experimental stage. Meanwhile we need something that will work now.

    It may not be that a total laser system will be cheaper. The real promise is that they have a bottomless magazine.

    Lasers require repeated huge electrical power surges. That means probably large excess ships service generator capacity, large banks of batteries, or the ability to divert propulsion power to weapons. That may require specifically designed ships. A simple add on to existing ships may not be feasible, particularly for smaller ships.

    Meanwhile we will probably need guns for the foreseeable future, if for no other reason than the ability to “fire across the bow” as a signal to stop.

    And if you want to hit something beyond the visible horizon or on the reverse slope of a hill, a laser will not work, so you need a gun, missile, or bomb.

    • I agree with exception of smaller ships powerplant upgrade, where I’m not sure as you.
      Probably I still have to develop my english: future mean today ?
      Posted article ask if is worth upgrade 25mm guns into 30mm ones ?
      Yes because of drone treat is my answer, but stop here spending taxpayers money do not pretend to add missiles of any kind , in 10-15 years (future) we will manage this treat with low power lasers at short ranges in plain view; consider in the same future there will be only elettric vehicles to buy so will be hard to find gasoline or diesel. What a change.
      On other treats you are right no laser to destroy an airport or a submarine!
      Mr. Hill apologies my rude comment as excuse let me try to explain I can not suffer stupid people but even more who play dumb.
      The big problem to me is with US defense spending review over 750 billions and probably over the trillion in future, USA must find a way to build faster more destroyers and submarines for a price tag of no more a billion each one or while all the countries develop best sixt generation fighter jet introduce in service the only and mighty USS Enterprise conducted by our dear Kirk.
      I have to wake up it’s time

      • I agree that lasers are likely the coming solution for hard kill of UAS.

        Determining Weapons fit is complex because all potential threats need to be considered. Missile systems like Hellfire and APKWS are actually pretty cheap, and they are made in their thousands. Since we need to store extras, Coast Guard cutters might be a place to store them. In all probability, we would not have an occasion to use them, but even if we did it would be a very small number compared to the number that would be stored on shipboard.

  4. Rolls-Royce/LibertyWorks M250 Helicopter Gas Turbine Auxiliary Power Units for Small Ships and/or ships producing insufficient power to power an ship mounted LaWS Laser, can generate up to ~300-kW of electrical power and has been in service since at least 2019! It’s self contained and operates independently of the vessels power grid with it’s own dedicated fuel source…

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