Phalanx Close-In Weapons System Trainer

Royal New Zealand Navy and Beca Ltd

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) recently upgraded the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System on their two ANZAC Class Frigates to the Block 1B configuration. This upgrade has added significant capability for the ships to undertake close-range surface and air engagements using the high rate-of-fire 20mm Gatling gun system. This capability is designed to counter contemporary littoral warfare threats including small high-speed surface craft, small terrorist aircraft, helicopters and surface mines.

We chose VBS on the basis of its capabilities, and to help the RNZN leverage the investment made by the NZ Defence Force.
Bruce Neville, Systems Engineering Technical Director at Beca

Because the newer configuration has introduced an operators’ console, the system requires significantly more operator interaction compared to earlier variants.

“The ability to teach an operator to effectively use the Block 1B configuration is particularly challenging using traditional methods, and training on the actual system has significant limitations, such as the availability of realistic targets,” said Bruce Neville, Systems Engineering Technical Director at Beca. For example, inflatable sea-borne targets used for live training are stationary and deflate upon taking fire. Remotely controlled targets are expensive and the replication of a realistic swarm attack is very difficult to coordinate.   

Beca Ltd provided software services, systems engineering and project management to develop a comprehensive computer-based simulation of the CIWS Block 1B.

Beca’s training simulator focuses on emulating the behavior of the CIWS from an operator perspective, including simulation of the main controls as well as the behavior of the gun mount when tracking and engaging targets. The trainer features an integrated control stick, operator’s keypad and video screen so that operators can be familiar with how to control the system as well as detect, track and engage targets. 

At the core of the simulator is VBS2, which provides the electro-optical (EO) camera simulation, visual content, and scenario planning and execution.

“We chose VBS2 on the basis of its capabilities, and to help the RNZN leverage the investment made by the NZ Defence Force,” said Neville. “This has proven to be the correct decision, as the RNZN gets ready access to any content developed by the VBS2 community.”

Beca plans to upgrade the CIWS trainer to VBS3 and is examining other opportunities to integrate VBS into other weapon training systems for its clients.

“Beca’s CIWS Trainer provides the Navy with a high-fidelity immersive and comprehensive training tool, which they can use to train operators on how to use this new system so when they go to sea they are operational,” added Sam Fielden, Business Analyst at Beca.

Beca’s CIWS Trainer allows the Royal New Zealand Navy to train weapons operators for both surface and air threat scenarios in classrooms ashore, saving both time and money involved in sea-based training. Another key benefit is that complex training scenarios can be developed and exercised which would not be able to be undertaken using the actual equipment (largely due to the risks associated with live firing systems).

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Customer Profile

Beca Group Limited is an employee-owned engineering and related consultancy service company in the Asia-Pacific.


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Founded in 2001, Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim), a wholly-owned subsidiary of BAE Systems, Inc., is a global software company at the forefront of simulation and training solutions for defense and civilian organizations. Globally, many hundreds of thousands of military personnel are trained every year using BISim’s high-fidelity VBS software products. More than 60 NATO and NATO-friendly countries, and over 300 integrators/prime contractors use VBS technology, many making significant funding commitments to extend VBS product capabilities. BISim’s customers include the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, Canadian Armed Forces, French Army, Bundeswehr, Swedish Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force, New Zealand Defence Force and many major system integrators.