Goalkeeper Close-In Weapons System (CIWS)

- , August 17, 2018

Quick Facts

Variants N/A
Role and Mobility Short-Range Air Defense, Air Surveillance and Detection; Ship-Mobile
Interceptors and Range

30mm, 7-barrel Gatling Gun:

4200 rounds/min

Maximum Effective Range: 2000 km


I-Band Search Radar

Dual Frequency Tracking System

Targets Highly Maneuverable Missiles, Aircraft, and Fast Maneuvering Surface Vessels
Status/Exports Operational; Netherlands, Belgium, Chile, Portugal, Qatar, and the UAE
Designer/Producer Thales Group


The Goalkeeper Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) is a ship-mounted short-range air defense system (SHORAD) that combines a 30 mm, 7-barrel Gatling gun (GAU-8 Avenger) with special missile-piercing ammunition in order to protect vessels from incoming missiles.[i] Being a CIWS (“sea-whiz”), the Goalkeeper is intended to be the last line of defense against projectiles that have successfully evaded other defenses. It is currently used by the naval forces of Belgium, Chile, the Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, the UAE and the UK.[ii] The system is completely autonomous, being able to engage in surveillance, detection, destruction, and then select the next priority target on its own. The Goalkeeper can fire up to 4,200 solid tungsten sabot rounds per minute from its GAU-8 Avenger cannon. Specifically, the Goalkeeper uses missile-piercing discarding sabots (MPDS) and frangible missile-piercing discarding sabots (FMPDS) made from Tungsten alloy.

The Goalkeeper has also proven its effectiveness in practice; the United States tested the weapon by firing three separate missiles in the system’s range- all were intercepted.[iii] An I-band radar is utilized to ensure all-weather detection capability and pin-point target tracking is accomplished with a dual frequency I/K-band tracking radar.

Strategic Implications

The Goalkeeper and CWIS systems are actively changing the nature of naval warfare by adding another layer of defense to vessels. Additionally, the GAU-8 Avenger cannon has a range of 0.76-1 mile, making it useful for aircraft or projectiles that are farther away.[iv] The Goalkeeper is also fully autonomous, making it useful against high-speed targets that would be difficult to detect and follow by a human-operated system. The Goalkeeper also has specific implications for certain countries. In South Korea, the Goalkeeper can be used to safeguard its vessels against an increasingly hostile North Korea. The Goalkeeper can also be used against surface targets, by deploying ships near land or coastlines.


March 2018: Thales Goalkeeper Passes Sea Acceptance Trials Following Upgrade[v]

December 2012: Thales to Upgrade Goalkeeper Weapon System for Dutch Navy[vi]

1979: The First Prototype of the System was Demonstrated to the Royal Netherlands Navy

1975: Development of the System Begins

Recent News

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[i] https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/goalkeeper-close-weapon-system

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] http://www.military.cz/usa/air/in_service/weapons/cannons/gau8/gau8_en.htm

[v] https://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2018/march-2018-navy-naval-defense-news/6067-thales-goalkeeper-passes-sea-acceptance-trials-following-upgrade.html

[vi] https://www.naval-technology.com/news/newsthales-upgrade-goalkeeper-weapon-system-dutch-navy/