A Phalanx 20 mm close-in weapons system (CIWS) is fired aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship is underway conducting routine training exercises to maintain carrier readiness.
The Phalanx CIWS (pronounced “sea-whiz”) is a close-in weapon system for defense against anti-ship missiles. It was designed and manufactured by the General Dynamics Corporation, Pomona Division (now a part of Raytheon). Consisting of a radar-guided 20 mm Vulcan cannon mounted on a swiveling base, the Phalanx has been used by multiple navies around the world, notably the United States Navy on every class of surface combat ship with the exception of the San Antonio class LPD, by the British Royal Navy on its older escorts (where weight prevents the use of the heavier Dutch Goalkeeper 30 mm CIWS), and by the United States Coast Guard aboard its Hamilton and Legend-class cutters. The Phalanx is used by 16 other allied nations.
A land based variant, known as the LPWS (Land-based Phalanx Weapon System), part of the C-RAM system, has recently been deployed in a short range missile defense role, to counter incoming rockets and artillery fire.
Because of their distinctive barrel-shaped radome and their automated nature of operation, Phalanx CIWS units are sometimes nicknamed “R2-D2” after the famous droid character from the Star Wars films.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jerrett Ferrell/Released)