The Phalanx CIWS is a close-in weapon system for defense against anti-ship missiles. It was designed and manufactured by the General Dynamics Corporation, Pomona Division, a land based variant, known as C-RAM, has recently been deployed in a short range missile defense role, to counter incoming rockets and artillery fire. Because of their distinctive barrel-shaped radome and their nature of operation. The Phalanx Close-In Weapons System was developed as the last line of automated weapons defense against anti-ship missiles and attacking aircraft, including high-g, subsequently, the Phalanx Operational Suitability Model successfully completed its Operational Test and Evaluation on board the destroyer USS Bigelow in 1977. The model exceeded operational maintenance, reliability, and availability specifications, another evaluation successfully followed, and the weapon system was approved for production in 1978. Phalanx production started with orders for 23 USN and 14 foreign military systems, the first ship fully fitted out was the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea in 1980. The Navy began placing CIWS systems on non-combatant vessels in 1984 and this proven system was combined with a purpose-made mounting, capable of fast elevation and traverse speeds, to track incoming targets. Due to this nature, Phalanx is ideal for support ships. The entire unit has a mass between 12,400 to 13,500 lb, due to the continuing evolution of both threats and computer technology, the Phalanx system has, like most military systems, been developed through a number of different configurations. The basic style is the Block 0, equipped with first-generation, solid-state electronics, the Block 1 upgrade offered various improvements in radar, ammunition, computing power, rate of fire, and an increase in maximum engagement elevation to +70 degrees. These improvements were intended to increase the systems capability against emerging Russian supersonic anti-ship missiles, Block 1A introduced a new computer system to counter more maneuverable targets. The Block 1B PSuM adds a forward-looking infrared sensor to make the weapon effective against surface targets and this addition was developed to provide ship defense against small vessel threats and other floaters in littoral waters and to improve the weapons performance against slower low-flying aircraft. The FLIRs capability is also of use against low-observability missiles and can be linked with the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile system to increase RAM engagement range, the Block 1B also allows for an operator to visually identify and target threats. As the system manager, the U. S. Navy is in the process of upgrading all their Phalanx systems to the Block 1B configuration. All U. S Navy Phalanx systems are scheduled for upgrade to Block 1B by the end of FY2015, another system upgrade is the Phalanx 1B Baseline 2 radar to improve detection performance, increase reliability, and reduce maintenance. S. Navy Phalanx system-equipped vessels by FY2019, the Block 1B is also used by other navies, such as Canada, Portugal, Japan, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UK. In May 2009, the US Navy awarded a million contract to Raytheon Missile Systems to perform upgrades. The CIWS is designed to be the last line of defense against anti-ship missiles, due to its design criteria, its effective range is very short relative to the range of modern ASMs, from 1 to 5 nautical miles
Image: Phalanx CIWS test fire 081107 N 5416W 003
A technician checks the radar transmitter and microwave assemblies of a Phalanx CIWS, most likely a Block 0. On the unit in the background, the search radar can be seen at the top left with the vertical, orange-peel shaped, tracking radar below it.
U.S. Navy sailors load tungsten ammunition (white sabots at right) and off-load dummy ammunition (left).
A sailor sits at a CIWS Local Control Panel (LCP) during a general quarters drill.