After the initial 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Multinational Force Iraq (MNF-I) observed that the majority of their casualties weren’t due to direct fire, but an increasing number was caused by attacks from rockets, artillery, and mortars.
After an operational request was made, an initiative was taken to address this situation. The Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar, abbreviated to “C-RAM” or “Counter-RAM,” is a set of systems used to detect or destroy incoming artillery, rockets, and mortar rounds in the air before they ever hit their ground targets.
It could be said that the C-Ram is a land version of such weapons systems as the Phalanx CIWS radar-controlled rapid-fire gun for close-in protection of vessels from missiles. The system was subsequently deployed in Iraq to protect the Green Zone and Camp Victory in Baghdad, Joint Base Balad near Balad, Iraq, and by the British Army in southern Iraq. Laser-based solutions are being studied for further integration into the system.
The C-RAM weapon system is designed and manufactured by Raytheon. Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled radar, and 20 mm gun system that automatically acquires, tracks, and destroys enemy threats that have penetrated the airspace or are approaching ground forces.
In the beginning, Phalanx was designed as a ship-based anti-missile system. The C-RAM represents a path-breaking approach to countering insurgent activities by intercepting rockets, artillery, and mortar rounds in the air before impact, thereby reducing or eliminating any damage before they are caused.
The C-RAM system works by using sensor, command and control, and visualization tools to detect incoming threats and locate their sources. Once the system confirms the threat, its command and control tool warns soldiers, and provides tracking data to the system to destroy the incoming threat.
Raytheon is developing a laser-based variation where low-cost focused lasers will provide increased range and decreased time-to-intercept over the gun. Raytheon is the world’s biggest guided missile supplier, and was involved in manufacturing corporate and special mission aircraft until 2007, and is one of the largest defense contractors in the US.
On the other hand, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is also building a laser-based variant known as the Iron Beam. This Israeli defense contractor has been developing this air defense system for the last few years, and first unveiled it at the Singapore Air Show in 2014. As of 2016, the machine was in post-production.
The C-RAM system is claimed to have saved thousands of soldiers’ lives on battlefields. The system is used by the US, British, German, Israeli, Australian, and Italian armies.
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