Close-range defense system

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Phalanx-CIWS - rapid fire cannon
RAM starter on the German speedboat Ozelot
The Kortik-CIWS-System on board the Stereguschtschi ( Stereguschtschi -class )
Goalkeeper on the Dutch frigate De Zeven Provinciën
Meroka on the Spanish aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias

Close-range defense systems , often abbreviated CIWS after the English term Close-In Weapon System , are mainly used on warships against approaching missiles or small boats.

A close-in weapon system consists generally of a radar-guided machine gun and / or an anti-aircraft missile system . It forms the last line of defense of a warship.

Modern cruisers , destroyers and frigates have either one or two different systems each on the starboard and port side or one each in the direction of travel and one aft. Large ships such as dock landing ships or aircraft carriers have four or more weapons or starters. In the German and other navies, speedboats are also equipped with a close-range defense system.

Similar developments for armored vehicles, with which approaching anti-tank projectiles are to be destroyed, are referred to as hardkill systems .


Short-range defense systems came in 1970 on years when the threat of anti-ship missiles grew stronger, the more easily with conventional artillery or conventional air defense systems are not to fight. Initially, systems were developed using only barrel weapons. In order to achieve a high bullet density in the target area, these systems use revolver or Gatling cannons . Systems with interceptor missiles were also later developed.

The Russian AK-230 system was introduced in 1969 and comprises two 30 mm guns with a rate of fire of 1,500 rounds / min each. on every pipe. It fights targets that are recognized by the ship's radar, controlled by a special computer. From 1976 the AK-630 system was introduced, which with the Gatling gun Grjasew-Schipunow GSch-6-30 relies on an even higher rate of fire (up to 6,000 rounds / min.) And a larger number of barrels. In 1978 the USA introduced a system based on the M61 Vulcan gattling cannon called Phalanx CIWS , which is controlled by its own computer and radar system. The Goalkeeper , which was built in the Netherlands from 1979 , works similarly to the Phalanx, but, like the Russian system, relies on a larger caliber.

Combat missions using close-range defense systems have so far occurred during Operation Earnest Will and Operation Desert Storm . On May 17, 1987, the USS Stark (FFG-31) was hit by an Iraqi Exocet missile after the phalanx system malfunctioned. On February 25, 1991 the USS Missouri (BB-63) was fired at from the Iraqi side with SS-N-2 Styx , which should be counteracted by the use of decoys . The phalanx of the USS Jarrett (FFG-33) seized the ejected chaff of the Missouri and opened fire on them. The Missouri was hit several times by the phalanx salvos, but the crew was not harmed. The missile was finally shot down by a Sea Dart missile from HMS Gloucester (D96) .

In 1996, an American A-6 Intruder was accidentally shot down during a target exercise through the phalanx of the Japanese destroyer Yūgiri ; both crew members were able to save themselves.


The systems are mostly fully automated and autonomous. They are only monitored by the operations center (OPZ). This enables a shorter response time to rapidly approaching threats.

The system identifies approaching missiles based on size and speed. These are classified by the computer in danger categories: a missile that is likely to pass will not be considered by the automated system. Then the weapon aligns itself, depending on whether it is a cannon or missile system. The missile systems fire a different number of interceptor missiles at the anti-ship missiles. The cannon-based systems focus on the missile with the highest threat level until it is destroyed, then the next missile is fired at.


Since approaching missiles are detonated relatively close to the ship, slight damage from projectile fragments must be expected. These still represent a considerable risk for an unprotected crew as well as for sensitive structures (e.g. radio or radar antennas).

The AK-230 system has a range of 2,500 m and a cadence of 2,000 rounds / min. The “Phalanx CIWS” has a range of approx. 3,500 m and a cadence of 4,500 rounds / min. The Block 1B variant is intended according to the manufacturer Raytheon missile at Mach 2.4 and can catch more. The goalkeeper system has a range of 350 to 1,500 m at a rate of 4,200 rounds / min. To ensure destruction, the approaching missile should not be significantly faster than Mach  2 here .

The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile missile -based defense system (RAM system) is the fastest of the short-range defense systems. It can intercept missiles at Mach 3 speeds and has a range of 5 to 8 km.

The Russian cortic system (NATO code name: SA-N-11 Grison ) occupies a special position . It combines interceptor missiles that can intercept incoming guided missiles with up to Mach 4.5 at a distance of between 10 and 1.5 km and two 6-barrel Gatling cannons with a total rate of 12,000 rounds / min for distances of less than 1, 5 km.

Types of short range defense systems

Type Manufacturer / Country Armament
Barrels / caliber
(rounds / min.)
(maximum, m)
GDM-008 Millennium GermanyGermany Rheinmetall Oerlikon
35/1000 1 × 35 01,000 3,500
Phalanx CIWS United StatesUnited States Raytheon M61 Vulcan 6 × 20 04,500 5,500
Goalkeeper NetherlandsNetherlands Thales Nederland GAU-8 / A Avenger 7 × 30 04,200 1,500
GM25-SZ Sea Zenith
GM25-SS Sea Shield
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Oerlikon Oerlikon GBM-B1Z 4 × 25 03,400 2,000
Meroka SpainSpain Fabrica de Artilleria Bazan Oerlikon 20/120 12 × 20 01,440 2,000
AK-630 Soviet UnionSoviet Union Gryazev-Schipunow GSch-6-30 6 × 30 05,000 5,000
AK-230 Soviet UnionSoviet Union
2 × 30 03,000 6,700
3K87 Kortik
Kaschtan-M (Kortik export version)
Soviet UnionSoviet Union Tulski Oruscheiny Zavod Design office for device construction
AO-18K gun
9M11 missiles
2 × 6 × 30 10,000 4,000
DARDO ItalyItaly Oto Melara Breda
Breda 40 mm L / 70 2 × 40 0.0450 8,700
Myriad CIWS ItalyItaly Oto Melara 2 × KBD 25 mm / 80 14 × 25 10,000 1,000 (effective)
Type 730 CIWS China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China alleged GAU-8 / A replica 7 × 30 04,200 3,000
Typhoon Weapon System IsraelIsrael Oerlikon 20/120
Mauser MLG 27
1 × 20
1 × 27
1 × 30
Denel 35DPG South AfricaSouth Africa Denel GA-35 2 × 35 01,100 6,000
BC-350 Chanakya IndiaIndia DRDO

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