The Royal Navy is getting five more hi-tech radar-guided defence systems courtesy of contractor Raytheon.
The five new Phalanx Block 1B CIWS (Close-In Weapon Systems) will be deployed to protect RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) vessels and the new contract follows a previous Royal Navy order, placed in 2006, for 16 Phalanx Block 1B upgrade kits.
The Phalanx Block 1B CIWS boasts a 20mm gun, with a maximum rate of fire of 4,500 rounds a minute. Capable of operating in all types of weather, by day or by night, it's designed to counter a range of threats including combat aircraft, air-launched weapons and anti-ship missiles.
Currently, 14 Royal Navy ships - including the brand new Type 45 Destroyers - are equipped with the Phalanx system and the additional examples will be delivered from next year onwards.
Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems
To date, over 890 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems have been rolled out and they've been sold to 25 nations. These include Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the UK.
First manufactured by General Dynamics, the original Phalanx system entered service in 1980. It was followed by the Phalanx Block 1 in 1988 and then, 11 years later, the Block 1B came along.
According to Raytheon, the latest Phalanx CIWS variant is the result of years of programme development, works in tandem with other ship-launched weapons and can autonomously assess all external threat types.
Royal Navy Phalanx Contract
"This contract will help provide these Royal Navy vessels with the best possible ship self-defence 24-hours-a-day", MoD representative Steve Ranyard explained in a 23 October Ministry press release on the Royal Navy Phalanx contract. "The Phalanx system can defend against all types of air and surface threats in the naval environment and has proved to be a reliable system on other Royal Navy ships."
"Phalanx provides unparalleled ship self-defense to fleets operating in blue water as well as littoral environments", Raytheon Missile Systems' Rick Nelson added in his company's press release. "Thanks to its array of sensors, Phalanx brings a proven solution against threats launched from land, sea or air."
Phalanx CIWS image copyright US Navy - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons