While the Phalanx has proven an immensely effective self-defense system for the US Navy, it's far from a watertight solution. To intercept incoming threats that the Phalanx can't handle, the US Navy is investing in a rotating missile-launcher that lobs a baker's dozen of self-propelled missiles at anyone dumb enough to engage.
Developed through a partnership between Chemring and Raytheon, it's called the Chemring Countermeasures and Raytheon Missile Systems and consists of a prototype 12-barrel, multi-role Centurion launcher that fires not only anti-surface missiles like the Raytheon-Lockheed Martin Javelin, but rocket-propelled munitions and mortar-launched (sub-)munitions as well. The Centurion launcher is designed to rotate so as to minimize its footprint on the ship's deck, allowing it to potentially be installed on virtually any ship from small patrol boats to Nimitz-class supercarriers. What's more, each barrel can be individually loaded and independently fired, granting American sailors an unprecedented degree of flexibility in how they respond to threats.
"We're bringing an entirely new dimension to ship self-defense by providing a sea-based, inside-the-horizon platform protection," Rick Nelson, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems' Naval and Area Mission Defense line, said in a statement. "Chemring's Centurion launcher, when coupled with Raytheon's combat-proven missiles, offers an evolutionary capability to defeat surface threats with this One System-Multiple Missions technology."
Though a recent, land-based demonstration of the launcher held at the Defence Training Estate in Salisbury Plain, England successfully targeted and destroyed a static target there is no word yet on when (or even if) the system will enter service. [Raytheon via Danger Room]