As per the U.S. Navy, the Phalanx can be added with additional trackers and sensors to hunt down asymmetric warfare threats such as helicopters and drones. It was first installed on the USS Coral Sea in 1980, and has undergone several iterations.
Despite its seeming genius, the Phalanx has not had a spotless record. In 1991, during the first Gulf War, a Phalanx onboard the USS Jarrett was in automatic mode when it opened friendly fire on the USS Missouri. The Phalanx fired in response to a chaff can countermeasure fired by Missouri, which was deployed to mislead an Iraqi “Silkworm” guided missile.
Thankfully, the crew onboard the USS Missouri were not met with any serious injuries. A few years later, Phalanx — on a Japanese destroyer ship Yugiri — brought down a US Navy A6E Intruder aircraft during a maritime exercise.
Interestingly, this is not uncommon, and the Phalanx has, on many occasions, been seen tracking. In fact, it is a common sight on TikTok, where similar videos of the Phalanx tracking seemingly harmless aircrafts have drawn hundreds of thousands of views. But without proper context, such videos can cause panic, especially when actual incidents of anti-aircraft guns bringing down passenger aircraft and taking hundreds of lives are still fresh in our memories.
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