Higgins Upgrades CWIS System
By Ensign Daniel Choi, Strike Officer, USS HIGGINS (DDG 76)
SAN DIEGO – USS Higgins’ (DDG 76) completed the installation of the updated Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) 1B Oct. 22nd to help support their mission on the Global War on Terrorism.

The CIWS Block 1B is an improvement over its predecessor, the CIWS 1A. The CIWS Block 1A had just one purpose: track and shoot any aerial target with its gatling gun and it was accomplished by a computer. The earlier CWIS Block 1A mounts require little human interaction since they are designed to automatically aim at tracked targets and destroy them.

With the updated CWIS Block 1B, a Sailor can now gain manual control of the mount by wielding a “fixed hand controller” and manually aiming and designating targets. This updated feature makes the CWIS Block 1B mount a completely different weapon in the eyes of the CIWS operators.

“The Block 1B allows for more human interaction in the fire control solution. We have full control of the mount movement and have to adjust for lead or lag,” said Fire Controlmen 2 nd Class (SW) David Gould. “In the 1A system, only the computer can do that.”

The newer Block 1B mount not only improves its capability to track-and-fire, but the addition of a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) camera expands its usage considerably. The camera, mounted to the side of the structure, analyzes the water surface and an operator can label targets for the camera and radar to simultaneously track

Another advancement on the Block 1B is the Optimized Gun Barrel, a longer and sturdier model that can fire more lethal rounds. The increased length improves accuracy and the stronger composition helps it fire heavier rounds. The muzzle clamp used to hold the barrels together gives the mount a particularly intimidating look, resembling the Star Wars droid R2-D2 brandishing an air cooled machine gun.

Higgins is stationed at Naval Base San Diego. The 505ft long Arleigh Burke class destroyer was commissioned April 24, 1999 and deploys with Carrier Strike Group 11.
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