Navantia has officially announced its proposal to provide the Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun 35mm Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) for the Philippine Navy’s upcoming CIWS requirement. The project is estimated to carry a cost of Php5.2 billion, signaling Navantia’s commitment to delivering state-of-the-art defense solutions to its clients. Navantia’s decision to offer the Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun comes as a surprise to many, considering the company’s reputation for innovation and cutting-edge naval technologies. This move demonstrates their strategic vision in meeting the evolving needs of modern naval forces. The proposed system is intended to be integrated into the 2 Jose Rizal-class frigates of the Philippine Navy. This aligns with the information shared by MaxDefense Philippines which has reported the requirement for 2 gun-based CIWS as part of the Philippine Navy’s Frigate Lot 4 – CIWS Acquisition Project under the Horizon 3 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP). The allocated budget for this project amounts to Php5.274 billion. Notably, this project was among those submitted to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as part of the Horizon 3 Phase 1 earlier this year.
The Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun 35mm CIWS faces competition from Turkey’s Aselsan, which is putting forward the Gokdeniz 35mm CIWS with a distinctive dual-barrel design. In contrast, the Millenium Gun employs a single-barrel revolver design, showcasing its unique engineering approach. The Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun boasts a strong pedigree in naval defense. Developed by Rheinmetall Air Defence AG (formerly Oerlikon Contraves), this CIWS is derived from the proven 35/1000 revolver gun land-based air defense system. Notably, it employs the Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction (AHEAD) ammunition, setting it apart with its precision and lethal capabilities. One of its groundbreaking features is a muzzle-end device that gauges the speed of each fired round, allowing the system to optimize the detonation of the round based on the target’s distance. The result is a cloud of 152 small tungsten projectiles, each weighing 3.3 grams, forming a cone-shaped dispersion pattern. While these individual projectiles might seem insignificant, their cumulative effect can critically damage various parts of incoming threats, such as wings, control surfaces, sensors, and aerodynamics, ultimately leading to the target’s incapacitation. With its robust ammunition capacity, the Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun can effectively engage up to 10 anti-ship missiles or 20 surface targets.
The CIWS is designed to be seamlessly integrated into an external fire-control system, utilizing radar or electro-optical trackers for precision targeting. The system’s open architecture ensures compatibility with a wide range of existing fire control systems. Its reputation is further bolstered by its adoption in naval fleets around the world. Notable users of the CIWS include Denmark’s Absalon-class and Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates, Indonesia’s Martadinata-class frigate, and Venezuela’s Guaiquerí-class and Guaicamacuto-class patrol boats. Looking ahead, the Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun has been selected for integration into the Bulgarian Navy’s upcoming corvettes (MMPV 90), as well as Indonesia’s planned Type 31 frigate and OPV 90M. Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s Al Jubail-class corvettes are set to feature this advanced CIWS, solidifying its global footprint in naval defense. Navantia’s proposal to equip the Philippine Navy’s Jose Rizal-class frigates with the Rheinmetall Oerlikon Millennium Gun 35mm CIWS stands as a testament to the company’s dedication to enhancing maritime security and safeguarding naval assets. This development paves the way for cutting-edge defense solutions that will bolster the capabilities of the Philippine Navy in the face of evolving security challenges.