Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System: the international standard in ship self-defence


Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is among the best ship self-defence systems on the market today. It is set to maintain its formidable reputation as navies around the world continue to select the weapon system to neutralize the growing number of maritime threats they face.

The Phalanx system was developed to counter a wide variety of threats, including small, fast gunboats, standard and guided munitions, helicopters, mines, and anti-ship missiles.

A total of 895 Phalanx systems have been built since the beginning of the programme, with some 582 systems deployed in the navies of 25 allied nations.

As new requirements in ship self-defence has been identified, so the Phalanx system has been developed and improved. Growth has expanded in two major directions. The first provides a capability for Phalanx to protect ships against low technology threats such as small surface craft, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and floating mines. The second expansion integrates Phalanx sensors into the ship’s combat systems, thereby eliminating the need for redundant on-board radars.

Phalanx can process both anti-ship missile and asymmetric target threats, giving it a true multi-role capability. If a missile is detected during an asymmetric target engagement, the operator is warned of the approaching threat. The system will automatically switch to anti-air warfare override and engage the missile without any operator action. The asymmetric threat capability was fully tested against multiple surface targets, including high speed manoeuvring boats, jet skis, and floating mines at ranges between 300 and 4 000 meters. Operational test and evaluation also included the successful engagement of ½ scale fixed-wing aircraft and 1/5 scale helicopters, representing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and slow moving air threats.

Raytheon is making great strides to continually improve the performance of its weapon systems to counter the threats of today and tomorrow. One such adaptation is SeaRAM, a low-risk evolution of the proven Phalanx Block 1B and the RAM guided missile weapon system. SeaRAM utilizes the same mechanical hardware as Phalanx with only minor modifications to allow for the installation of an 11-round missile package, replacing the Gatling gun.

Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System has been presented to the South African Navy for consideration on Valour Frigates and for Project Biro vessels: efforts have been coordinated through Atlantis Corporation, representative to Raytheon in South Africa.