In modern naval warfare, protecting these high-value surface weapons from air threats, including anti-ship cruise missiles, is one of the top priorities.

Russia is currently a leader in this field with a series of close-in weapon systems (CIWS) with a combination of rapid-fire artillery, naval artillery and high-precision anti-aircraft missiles. CIWS is especially effective when dealing with extremely low-flying missiles, close to the sea surface in the approach phase.

With the ability to create a rain of bullets and near-instant response, CIWS is greatly improving the survivability of ships in modern naval warfare.

Here are some outstanding Russian CIWS complexes known in the world:

Weapon capable of firing up to 10,000 rounds/minute

Starting in 2021, Russia officially integrated the Palma short-range air defense artillery-missile complex on export warships. A special feature of this weapon complex is the combination of two AO-18KDE 30mm quick-firing cannons and Sosna-R semi-active laser-guided anti-aircraft missiles.

Two rapid-fire cannons can create a rain of bullets with a rate of fire of up to 10,000 rounds per minute. This density of fire ensures the highest probability of destroying short-range flying targets. Leader of the High Precision Mechanical Design Complex of Almaz-Antey Group, A.E. Nudelman said that the fire from the 30mm cannons is like an “iron shield” protecting the battleship with an effective range of up to 4km.

Palma artillery-missile complex.
Palma artillery-missile complex.

According to the manufacturer’s introduction, CIWS Palma is a multi-purpose defensive weapon complex. It can perform an anti-aircraft function, but when necessary it can also be used to destroy speedboats or maneuver targets at sea.

The combat capability of CIWS Palma also lies in the Sosna-R missile rounds. In the latest version, this anti-aircraft missile has an effective range of up to 10km. Guided firing according to the principle of laser beam tracking helps the Sosna-R missile to have very high accuracy and effectively deal with targets with stealth technology applied.

The combat effectiveness of CIWS Palma lies not only in its firepower, but also in its multi-channel, multi-mode fire control system; combination of tracking channel, radar guidance and optical-infrared, so jamming or electronic suppression measures are almost ineffective.

Previously, CIWS Palash complexes, the export version of Palma, are being equipped on many Russian export warships, including the Gepard-class missile corvette of the Vietnam People’s Navy.

Navy Pantsir

The combat capability of the Pantsir army air defense artillery-missile complex has been confirmed through combat. Therefore, on the basis of the Pantsir-M complex, Russia has developed a variant of Pantsir-ME equipped on ships. Basically, Pantsir-ME still carries the full capabilities of the army version and is optimized to suit the harsh operating environment at sea.

In 2021, the Russian Navy signed a contract to order Pantsir-S1M complexes to equip the Project 22800 Karakurt high-speed ships.

Due to the modular design, Pantsir-ME is suitable for equipping on many different battleships. They are capable of creating a 20km wide air defense cell with an interception ceiling of up to 15km.

Pantsir-ME artillery-missile complex.
Pantsir-ME artillery-missile complex.

Uses mixed radar and optoelectronics firing channels. The entire process of reconnaissance, detection, tracking and targeting is automated.

Combination of naval cannon and rapid fire artillery

The combination of naval cannons and rapid-fire artillery to create an anti-aircraft shield on a ship is not new. On Russian warships, this combination comes from the AK-176 MA-01 76mm naval gun and the AK-630M-2 DUET 30mm fast-firing cannon.

In fact, the AK-630M-2 is a duplicate of the AK-630M artillery complex with the combination of two 6-barreled AK-630M cannon clusters to increase fire density. They are completely interchangeable. The combination of two 30mm fast-firing cannons is enough to create a “cloud” of bullets to destroy low-flying targets, especially anti-ship cruise missiles in the approach phase.

AK-176 MA-01

Meanwhile, the AK-176 MA-01 naval gun is a naval multi-purpose weapon. It has an anti-marine function, but with ammunition equipped with a ranged fuse, this naval gun also has an anti-aircraft function thanks to its high rate of fire and the rain of shrapnel generated.

Another special feature of the AK-630M-2 complex and the AK-176 MA-01 naval gun is that it is designed to limit radar reflections, thereby increasing the stealth of the equipped battleship.


Mini S-300 on board

At the International Maritime Exhibition IMDS-2021 held in St. Petersburg, Almaz-Antey Corporation has introduced a new surface-to-air missile system called Resurs. They use missiles of the land-based air defense complex S-300 and S-350 to deal with manned and unmanned aerial targets at extremely low altitudes. In tests, Resurs shot down targets at a height of up to 5m.

The structure of the vertical launch cell of the Resurs complex on the ship
Anti-aircraft missile ammunition 9M96E and 9M100E.

The structure of the Resurs complex, consisting of 9M96E and 9M100E missile rounds placed in vertical launch cells. The complex can simultaneously track and fire at 5 targets. With a range of up to nearly 100km, Resurs can both meet the requirements of point air defense and fleet air defense. The automatic control system helps the complex operate on the principle of “fire and forget” to maximize protection and limit electronic suppression.

Resurs has many similar features, even more advantages than the Shtil-1 complex being equipped on ships of the Russian Navy, a weapon line that has proven effective in naval warfare in Syria.


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