The U.S. Army has used a Phalanx-derivative to defend against mortar and
rocket strikes on bases and other installations in Iraq. Phalanx, which
employs an M61A1 Gatling gun, was capable of intensive 20 mm M-246 or M-940
fire that could destroy incoming enemy projectiles. The rate of fire by the
system's six gun barrels was reported at up to 4,500 rounds per minute.
Phalanx, manufactured by Raytheon, has been described as a rapid-fire,
computer-controlled, radar-guided gun system designed to defeat anti-ship
missiles and other close-in air and surface threats. Phalanx Block 1B, the
latest variant, contains a forward-looking infrared sensor, Ku-band radar,
optimized gun barrels and control stations that allow operators to visually
track and identify targets before engagement.
Officials said Barak does not seek to bring Phalanx to Israel for trials
in 2008. Instead, the defense minister intends to ask the Bush
administration for the U.S. military's assessments of Phalanx for rocket
defense. Industry sources said Phalanx 1B had a shoot-down capability of up
to 70 percent.
On July 28, Barak arrived in the United States for meetings with senior
U.S. officials and commanders. Barak has met Vice President Richard Cheney,
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
Gates said the United States would seek to enhance Israel's missile
defense capabilities, including the option of deploying a U.S. early-warning
X-band radar to detect Iranian missile launches. Officials said the Bush
administration would also ask Congress to fund the Iron Dome missile and
rocket defense system.
"Like the Israelis, we see the Iranians racing to build a ballistic
missile capability and so we are working to help the Israelis fortify their
defenses as quickly as possible," U.S. Defense Department spokesman Geoff
Later, an Israeli government statement quoted Gates as pledging to
examine the provision of a range of U.S. missile defense assets. The Israeli
statement cited a U.S. forward deployed missile defense radar, missile
early-warning launch data as well as assets to intercept short-range mortars
Israel has sought to complete development of and deploy Iron Dome in
2011. But Barak has urged the Defense Ministry to consider interim solutions
in expectation that Hamas and its militia allies would soon resume daily
missile and rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip.
Raytheon and the U.S. Navy have developed Centurion, based on Phalanx
1B, to counter artillery, rocket and mortar fire. Centurion underwent what
Raytheon said were successful trials in 2004.
Phalanx has also been installed as a key element in the U.S. Army's
Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar, or C-RAM, system. The army has
selected Northrop Grumman for the C-RAM project, which contains a
version of Phalanx as well as the Q-36 target acquisition radar.