Raytheon's Phalanx gatling gun is gaining popularity in the
Persian Gulf. Image source:
From chasing down and
firing on commercial shipping
vessels, to conducting live missile firings in close proximity
U.S. aircraft carriers
, to actually seizing and
holding U.S. naval boats
, Iran's military has been behaving pretty badly since its
government signed its nuclear arms deal last year.
To date, the U.S. hasn't elected to take any reprisals for
these actions -- but Saudi Arabia, for one, isn't prepared to
Last year, as you may recall, Saudi Arabia announced the
formation of an
Islamic military alliance
in the Persian Gulf region. Ostensibly, the purpose of that
alliance is to combat ISIS. But fighting ISIS doesn't seem to
be Saudi Arabia's only goal.
Case in point: Last month, the U.S. Defense Security
Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress that Saudi Arabia
has requested permission to upgrade its five
-built MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) from their
current "Block 0" configuration to the more advanced "Block 1B
Baseline 2" configuration.
According to Raytheon, the Phalanx CIWS "is designed to
defeat anti-ship missiles and other close-in air and surface
threats." The Block 0 weapons that Saudi Arabia already
possesses are able to detect, track, and evaluate potential
threats -- then engage and destroy them if necessary. Block 1B
upgrades will add the ability to "visually track and identify
targets before engagement," and also provide a night-fighting
capability through the addition of forward looking infrared
(FLIR) sensors. Raytheon says the improved version
enhances the weapon's utility "against helicopters and
high-speed surface craft at sea."
Caution: Phalanx at work. Image source:
For a country concerned primarily with land-bound ISIS
terrorists -- who lack either a navy or an air force -- that's
a curious mission profile. But for a country concerned with
Iran's increasing bellicosity in the Persian Gulf, these
upgrades are a logical purchase.
According to the DSCA, Saudi Arabia "has been, and continues
to be, an important force for political stability and economic
progress in the Middle East," but needs to improve its weapons
"as a deterrent to regional threats." Saudi Arabia will install
one of the guns at its Naval Forces School. The remaining four
weapons will each service a U.S.-built Royal Saudi Naval Forces
Patrol Chaser Missile (PCG) Ship. This will give the RSNF ships
defensive capabilities similar to those of U.S. Navy vessels.
According to Raytheon, "all U.S. Navy surface combat ship
classes" carry the Phalanx.
What it means to investors
According to DSCA, Raytheon will serve as prime contractor on
the sale, which is estimated at $154.9 million in value.
Is it a huge sales win for Raytheon? No. Given that the
company's annual sales exceeded $23 billion in 2015, the Saudi
Arabian purchase will amount to less than 1% of revenues.
That said, the Middle East is an important market for
Raytheon, accounting for nearly 15% of its worldwide sales.
Last month's deal with Saudi Arabia is a small but significant
piece of that sales puzzle -- and one more deal ensuring that
Raytheon will remain the U.S. defense contractor with
the widest global reach
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Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) Patrol Chaser
Missile boat. Image source:
U.S. National Archives
Saudi Arabia's Navy Arms Up -- With American
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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