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Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) provides last chance Defense for Naval ships

A close-in weapon system (CIWS),  is a point-defense weapon for detecting and destroying short-range incoming missiles and enemy aircraft which have penetrated the outer defenses, typically mounted shipboard in a naval capacity. Nearly all classes of modern warship are equipped with some kind of CIWS device.


CIWS Systems

There are two types of CIWS systems. A gun-based CIWS usually consists of a combination of radars, computers, and multiple-barrel, rotary rapid-fire cannons placed on a rotating gun mount.


Limitations of gun systems

Short range: the maximum effective range of 20 mm (0.79 in) gun systems is about 4,500 metres (14,800 ft); systems with lighter projectiles have even shorter range. The expected real-world kill-distance of an incoming anti-ship missile is about 500 m (1,600 ft) or less, still close enough to cause damage to the ship’s sensor or communication arrays, or to wound or kill exposed personnel. Thus some CIWS (like Russian Kashtan or Pantsir systems) are augmented by installing the close range SAMs on the same mount for increased tactical flexibility.


Limited kill probability: even if the missile is hit and damaged, this may not be enough to destroy it entirely or to alter its course enough to prevent the missile, or fragments from it, from hitting its intended target, particularly as the interception distance is short. This is especially true if the gun fires kinetic-energy-only projectiles.


Missile based system

Missile systems use infra-red, passive radar/ESM or semi-active radar terminal guidance to guide missiles to the targeted enemy aircraft or other threats.


Missile systems do not have the same limitations as gun systems. Because of their greater range, a missile-CIWS can also be dual-used as a short-ranged area-defense anti-air weapon, eliminating the need for a second mount for this role. In some cases, CIWS are used on land to protect military bases. In this case, the CIWS can also protect the base from shell and rocket fire.


After an inertial guidance phase, a CIWS missile relies on infra-red, passive radar/ESM or semi-active radar terminal guidance, or a combination of these. The ESM-mode is particularly useful since most long-range anti-ship missiles use radar to home in on their targets. Some systems allow the launch platform to send course-correction commands to the missile in the inertial guidance phase.



Gun-based Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) had been losing favor in comparison to missiles as anti-air weapons. The most common criticism is that the CIWS, even if it hits its target, will not prevent an incoming missile’s debris field from striking the ship with the implication being that the ship will suffer the same degree of damage.


The US Navy has been reducing the number of 20mm Phalanx guns in favor of replacing them with RIM-116 modules. However new hypersonic missiles travel so fast that even if they are “destroyed”, their remains are still traveling at insanely high speeds enough to damage the warships. However, a ship will be far less damaged by a hail of debris pieces than an intact, fully functioning missile.



CIWS systems

Top 10 Close In Weapon Systems In The World are Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun (CIWS System ), Denel 35 millimeter dual-purpose gun (CIWS System ), Meroka (CIWS System ), Sea Zenith (CIWS System ), AK-630 (CIWS System ), Goalkeeper (CIWS System ), and Phalanx (CIWS System )


Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun (CIWS System )

originated in the country of Switzerland In an anti-surface function, the millenium gun is a rapid and powerful effector, while in an anti-air role, it is controlled by an external fire control system utilising either radar or electro-optical trackers.

The millenium gun can combat a wide range of air threats, from anti-ship missiles with a small radar cross-section to quick assault aircraft and helicopters. The millennium gun can also combat low-speed, small-scale air threats posed by unmanned aerial vehicles, with a range of up to 5000 metres and a rate of 1,000 rounds per minute.


Denel 35 millimeter dual-purpose gun (CIWS System )

The 35 DPG is a South African-built close weapon system that is currently in service on the South African navy’s valor-class frigates. Its primary duty is to defend against attack by helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and missiles.

It also has a secondary role in symmetrical and asymmetrical warfare against surface vessels and shore targets, as well as in law enforcement where accuracy is critical because collateral damage is unacceptable. The effective firing range is around 4,000 meters, and the rate of fire from each barrel is 550.


Meroka (CIWS System )

The MEROKA CIWS is a Spanish naval 12 barrel 20 millimeters early can gun deployed in two rows of six guns each. Its main function is to defend against anti-ship missiles and other precision-guided weapons.

It can, however, be used against fixed or rotary-wing aircraft, ships, and other small craft along the coast, as well as floating mines. Although the system’s range is described as 1.5 to 2 kilometers, the effective range is only 0.5 kilometers.


Phalanx CIWS

The radar-guided, rapid-firing MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS, pron. “see-whiz”) can fire between 3,000-4,500 20mm cannon rounds per minute, either autonomously or under manual command, as a last-ditch defense against incoming missiles and other targets.


The U.S. Army uses the land-based Phalanx as part of its systems to counter rockets, artillery and mortars. The self-contained, rapid-fire Phalanx land-based weapon system automatically locates, tracks, and kill assesses enemy threats, such as projectiles or enemy aircraft. Designed to engage and destroy supersonic anti-ship missiles and high-speed aircraft that have penetrated outer fleet defensive envelopes, close-in weapon systems such as Raytheon’s Phalanx remain the primary point defence solution for close-in air and surface threats.


Phalanx uses closed-loop spotting with advanced radar and computer technology to locate, identify and direct a stream of armor piercing projectiles toward the target. These capabilities have made the Phalanx CIWS a critical bolt-on sub-system for naval vessels around the world, and led to the C-RAM/Centurion, a land-based system designed to defend against incoming artillery and mortars.


SeaRAM Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) Anti-Ship Missile Defense System

SeaRAM is a MK 15 CIWS variant which integrates two Fleet proven weapon systems: The Block 1B Phalanx CIWS and the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Guided Missile Weapon System. SeaRAM combines the Phalanx CIWS Block 1B search-and-track radar and Electro Optic sensor, along with its inherent threat evaluation and weapon designation capability, with a RAM 11-round launcher guide assembly on a single mount.


The SeaRAM CIWS is a complete combat weapon system that automatically detects, evaluates, tracks, engages, and performs kill assessment against ASM and high speed aircraft threats in an extended self-defense battle space envelope around the ship. SeaRAM can also be integrated into ship combat control systems to provide additional sensor and fire-control support to other installed ship weapon systems.


Russian Kashtan CIWS air defense gun-missile system deployed by the Russian Navy.

The Kashtan (Russian: Каштан, English: Chestnut) close-in weapon system (CIWS) is a modern naval air defense gun-missile system deployed by the Russian Navy. It packs a pair of 30mm cannons and features no less than eight short range radio guided 9m311 surface-to-air missiles in a hulking swiveling turret. As many as eight turrets, all of which feature their own scanning and tracking radar systems, as well as electro-optical and infrared sensors, can be tied to a central fire control system which can be further integrated into a ships overall combat system, as is the case with Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. Such a system amounts to an ability to put so many rounds and so many missiles in the air in rapid succession that it would be next to impossible for something hostile trying to make its way toward the ship to survive.


Russian Kashtan system is the most known of the exotic gun/missile dual mount that utilize the effectiveness of missiles, but retain gunnery based CIWs to provide a desperate “last resort” solution to incoming air attack. It is found on the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, Kirov class battlecruisers, Neustrashimy class, People’s Liberation Army Navy Sovremenny class destroyers and Indian Talwar class frigates and other modern designs.


Most typically deployed as a combined gun and missile system, it provides defence against anti-ship missiles, anti-radar missiles and guided bombs. The system can also be employed against fixed or rotary wing aircraft or even surface vessels such as fast attack boats or targets on shore.


Russian media is reporting that the long awaited upgrade of the Kashtan (Chestnut) close-in weapon system (CIWS) will begin testing in 2018. Trials will start on a land range before moving to the sea aboard one of Russia’s Project 1241 Molniya missile corvettes in the Black Sea. The country’s new Project 22800 Karakurt corvettes will be the first vessels to receive the system operationally once testing is complete.  The system is slated for operational use in the 2019-2020 timeframe.


Panstir-ME appears to be something of a mix between the potent Pantsir-S1 land-mobile self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery gun system and existing Kashtan CIWS installations found on many Russian-built naval vessels dating back to the Cold War. It uses a modified version of the Pantsir’s 1RS2-1E phased array radar system as well as an electro-optical/infrared targeting and identification system mounted above the radar in a similar fashion as seen on many of its ground-based cousins.


There is no early warning radar system directly attached to the Panstir-M mount, like the RS1-E1 mounted on many Pantsir-S1 vehicles. Instead, early warning will be provided by the ship’s radar suite and/or by a similar detached early warning radar mounted elsewhere on the ship. The system’s own radar can also provide early warning detection as well as fire control functions over a more limited sector of fire.


According to Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov each Pantsir-ME mount can engage four targets simultaneously, and will have a probability of kill three to four times greater than existing Kashtan-M installations. Like Kashtan before it, the Pantsir-ME is unique in that it integrates both a highly-agile missile and a rapid-firing CIWS gun system into a single package, and features weapons redundancy on every mount. With a much needed refresh to its control interface, its sensors, and its missiles, Russia has executed on a fairly brilliant plan that will build on the Kashtan in a logical way while also using existing components to decrease costs and lower development and integration risk.


The system can operate autonomously or it can be tied to a network of similar mounts scattered around a larger vessel. It can also be integrated into the ships larger overall combat system. This flexibility allows the system to be fielded on everything from corvettes, to frigates, to destroyers, to Kirov class

China Type 1130 CIWS, Can Destroy 90% Mach 4 Hypersonic Missiles

China already has two domestic CIWS designs that use Gatling-style weapons, the Type 730, and its associated variants, and the Type 1130. The Type 730 features a seven-barrel 30mm Gatling-style cannon, while the Type 1130, first seen on China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and now present on other Chinese warships, is another 30mm design with 11 barrels.


CIWS, called Type 1130, which has the firing power of 10,000 rounds per minute, portal Want China Times said, citing Russia media sources. The particular CIWS model, recently spotted being installed on a PLA Type 054A frigate, can reportedly destroy 90 percent of hypersonic missiles even travelling four times the speed of sound. CIWS, a point-defense weapon, is used to detect and counter short-range incoming missiles as well as enemy aircraft. It is typically mounted on warships.


The Type 1130’s Gatling-type gun, according to Want China Times, possesses a 30 mm caliber, 11 numbers of barrels and carries two magazines each reportedly containing 640 rounds. Citing Russian media, Want China Times said the Type 1130 CIWS will be deployed on the Type 055, the country’s latest guided missile destroyer, very soon. It added the Type 1130 CIWS will likely be placed on ships with a 12,000-ton displacement because of its gigantic size and weight, as well as the amount of electricity it will gobble up.


Pictures have emerged online that indicate testing of a new and absolutely fearsome-looking naval point air and missile defense system has been going on in China since January 2021. The available images show that this weapon system notably features a Gatling-style rotary cannon with a whopping 20 barrels, nearly twice as many the largest close-in weapon system, or CIWS, now in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN.


Future Weapons: Railguns and lasers

Future Navy fleet that would rely on railguns and lasers for fleet defense.   This not only solve the magazine depth issue, but would also free up missile tubes for the FSC’s offensive sea-control and land-attack missions.”


But there are technical challenges that must be overcome. Firstly, the size and power requirements for railguns and lasers must come down. Further, those weapons need to be able to fire rapidly; reliably and accurately enough to replace all but longest-range over-the-horizon surface-to-air missiles like the Standard SM-6.


But a future Navy warship needs to have the power and cooling capacity to run these energy intensive systems. While Navy can utilize fifty-eight megawatt integrated power systems of Zumwalt-class future energy requirements are more easily met by nuclear propulsion. “While the upfront cost of nuclear power is high, the life-cycle costs might be worth it. That’s especially true with the kind of electrical power-generation requirements these future vessels might need.”

Close-In Weapon Systems are class of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS)

Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), is considered as lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) once activated, can select and engage targets without further human input. The United Nations, NGOs, and even some nations have coalesced to ensure that LAWS are no longer developed or deployed by any nation.


Human Rights Watch, ICRAC, and other opponents of LAWS maintain that autonomous weapons are incapable of complying with the law of armed conflict (LOAC), the laws and principles regulating the lawful waging of war. The main legal objections raised by LAWS opponents focus on the core LOAC principles of distinction and proportionality.


Global Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) Market

The global close-in weapon systems (CIWS) market attained a value of USD 5.4 billion in 2020. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.7% in the forecast period of 2022-2027 to reach a value of USD 10.5 billion by 2026.


The global market for close-in weapon systems (CIWS) is being driven by the increasing military expenditure in various developed and developing economies, in order to protect the sovereignty of the nation by defending the country’s borders from any outside aggression and enhance the military capabilities of the nation. The market will further be aided by the growing risk of international conflicts.


Based on type, the gun-based close-in weapon systems account for a significant share in the market. This can be attributed to the growing demand for various gun-based CIWS, including AK_630, Pantsir-M, DARDO, Goalkeeper CIWS, Kashtan CIWS, and Myriad CIWS, among others. The Kashtan CIWS is likely to gain traction in the forecast period, owing to its high ammunition storage and various advantages, including its ability to protect ships against ASMs, anti-radar missiles, and aerial threats from the aircraft, among others. It can also engage smaller vessels and ground targets. Meanwhile, the missile-based CIWS are likely to provide growth opportunities to the market, owing to the development of cheaper alternatives to the costlier missile-based CIWS. For instance, the 9M337 Sosna-R is an effective and cheaper alternative to the tor missile system and Pantsir-S1


North America accounts for a significant share in the market and is anticipated to remain a major market in the forecast period as well. This can be attributed to the increasing military expenditure of the United States of America, along with the growing R&D activities in the nation, owing to the rising challenges faced by it pertaining to terrorism. Russia and China are also likely to be significant markets for close-in weapon systems as these countries have witnessed a surge in spending on weapon systems. The growing ambition of China towards maintaining its dominance in the oceans is likely to be a major factor driving the growth of the market.


Some of the market players are ASELSAN A.S., BAE Systems, General Dynamics Corporation, Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Others



In Feb 2022, Serco has won a single-award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract awarded by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division. With a ceiling value of $64m, the contract has a five-year ordering period.

Serco will receive task orders to deploy, modernise, and modify the Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). The installation services will support the CIWS systems deployed on the US Navy, US Army, US Coast Guard, and foreign military sales vessels.

CIWS is a point-defence weapon installed shipboard and designed to track and defeat short-range, high-speed manoeuvring anti-ship missiles and other incoming threats.



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