Nov 03 2014
The U.S. Navy has chosen Raytheon Co. to overhaul, upgrade, and remanufacture the Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems (CIWS) in the Navy’s fleet.
CIWS is an integral element in the Navy’s Fleet Defense In-Dept concept and the Ship Self-Defense Program. Work on the $115.5 million contract is expected to be conducted at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., facilities and be completed by September 2017.
Phalanx CIWS supports multiple roles in ship self-defense and is carried on most U. S. Navy combatant ship classes, including carriers, destroyers, cruisers, and amphibs.
Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled radar and 20 mm gun system that automatically acquires, tracks, and destroys enemy threats that have penetrated all other ship defense systems. The Phalanx CIWS footprint is 92 by 121 inches, its height is 188 inches, and it has a working circle of 107 inches. On deck, Phalanx weighs 13,600 pounds, which includes 1,500 rounds of its enhanced lethality cartridge.
“The primary mission of CIWS is terminal defense against anti-ship threats and high speed aircraft penetrating outer fleet defensive envelopes,” says Rick McDonnell, director of close-in defense systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. “Its secondary mission is Surface mode (Block 1B) to counter small fast surface craft and slow flying helicopters and aircraft.”
McDonnell points out CIWS automatically detects, evaluates, tracks, and alerts the operator to engage anti-ship cruise missiles and high-speed aircraft threats. He notes the current Block 1B Phalanx variant has the ability to counter small fast surface craft and slow flying helicopters and aircraft through the addition of a fused multi-spectrum (infrared/radio frequency) track capability.
“CIWS also can be integrated into existing ship combat control systems to provide additional sensor and fire control support to other installed weapon systems,” McDonnell says. “Additionally, the system allows the operator to visually identify threats.”
McDonnell says the Phalanx CIWS entered the U.S. fleet in 1979 and “has been continuously evolving to pace the threat, [to] improve reliability, and to exploit inherent capabilities.”
He adds CIWS is an international program with almost 600 systems in service with the U.S. Navy and 23 other nations.
About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.