Phalanx is a unique product for us because it is no longer a program
that involves building a whole new system. What we do now is
remanufacture systems that had been built in the past, either a routine
overhaul for the U.S. Navy or to take old, obsolete systems and upgrade
them with new components for new classes of ships.
We keep the Phalanx modern and current against the threat. The systems
are taken back to Louisville, Ky., where we completely disassemble them —
literally, every nut, bolt and screw comes out, sandblasted, reassembled, all
the worn parts are replaced, repainted — and the refurbished unit is shipped
out to another ship. Four thousand new parts go into one. It takes about two
years from contract award to return of the system to the fleet.
We also provide software and hardware upgrade kits to the fleet to keep
the systems fresh. We went through a major radar upgrade to the current
configuration a number of years ago and, in order to get everything in the
fleet upgraded, rather than bring them all back and do it in our factory, we
sell kits to the Navy and they can install those kits or that upgrade pier-side. We provided 44 kits in fiscal 2015.
In the short term, the upgrades in work are mostly software-based. In
the long term, there is funding in the Future Years Defense Plan for a technology refresh in fiscal 2018. It will largely be focused on continuing to
improve its total ownership cost, life-cycle costs and lower mean time
between failures. Every time we do that, we add capability.
The Phalanx is the last line of defense for a ship. It is the only thing that
does what it does on those ships. It is very effective at what it does. There
is a persistent threat and the U.S. Navy invests in upgrades in both software and hardware to address those threats. Even our old Cold War adversaries are continuing to develop anti-ship weapons that we have to
think about how we’re going to work against.
The Last Line of Defense
The Mk15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is a rapid-reaction
ship-defense system designed as the
last line of defense for a surface ship.
It consists of a swiveling mount
including an M61 Vulcan rotary
20mm cannon, a targeting radar,
infrared sensor and ammunition feed
system. It can fire at a rate of 3,000
rounds per minute to defeat aircraft,
cruise missiles, unmanned vehicles,
boats and other craft.
Raytheon built about 950 CIWSs
before production ended for the
U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and 23
international customers in the late
1990s. Approximately 650 remain
in service worldwide. Raytheon
continues to overhaul the systems
and return them to service as CIWS
or SeaRAM for the Navy, or Charlie-RAM (rocket, artillery, mortar) for
the U.S. Army. The most recent
contract, awarded Sept. 30, was for
$159 million to overhaul 37 systems. The Navy spends about $50
million annually on CIWS hardware and software upgrades, and
intends to keep Phalanx around for
another 30 years.
The CIWS reached initial operating
capability in 1980. The current standard is the Block 1B2, to which the
Navy is upgrading older blocks.
Rick McDonnell is Raytheon’s program director for the Close-In Defense Systems. Chris Gridley is production program manager for