CIWS beefed up, looking littoral



With a radar-guided 20mm Gatling gun spitting out 4,500 armor-piercing tungsten rounds per minute, and a 100-percent kill distance in the realm of eight miles, what’s badder than a MK15 Phalanx Close-in Weapon System?

An upgraded MK15 Phalanx Close-in Weapon System.

Raytheon on March 31 was awarded a $204 million to beef up 32 CIWS systems. John Eagles, a spokesman for Raytheon, today told Scoop Deck that the amount jumped by $10 million because some extra upgrades were ordered – and with good reason.

The 32 existing mounts will upgrade to 1B status, which is a defense system with a remarkably strong littoral focus. In addition to getting optimized gun barrels, a side-mounted Forward Looking Infrared Radar will be added to engage everything from low and slow aircraft to high-speed surface threats. And new control stations allow operators to visually track and identify targets before engagement – a serious benefit, to say the least.

I give this decision two big thumbs up. The current emphasis on disaggregated ops requires more ships to operate independent of the strike group, and to do so in dicey littoral areas. That won’t be changing any time soon.

We talked recently with Capt. Tom Dearborn, staff operations officer for Carrier Strike Group 10. The heart of our discussion was the forthcoming deployment, in which the carrier Truman will be joined by four U.S. warships and the German destroyer Hessen. Dearborn said disaggregated ops will remain the name of the game when the strike group arrives in the 5th Fleet AOR, and that he expects maritime security operation to increase.

As such, the sooner sailors get this game-changer, the better.


About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.


  1. TheAngryIntern on

    I wonder if it should really be 31 systems. The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is missing one of it’s CIWS mounts due to getting rear-ended by the USS Leyte Gulf in the late ’90s. As far as I know, they never replaced it, at least as of 2003 when I left the ship.

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