2008: There is now a land mobile version
of the Phalanx anti-ship-missile system.
The "Mobile Centurion" was originally developed four years ago, as
"C-RAM". It is basically the Phalanx naval gun system with new software that enables it to take data from other radar
systems, and shoot down just about any kind of artillery shell or rocket within
range. Renamed Centurion, it uses high explosive 20mm shells, that detonate
near the target, spraying it with fragments. By the time these fragments reach
the ground, they are generally too small to injure anyone. At least that's been
the experience in Iraq. The original Phalanx used 20mm depleted uranium shells,
to slice through incoming missiles. Phalanx fires shells at the rate of 75 per
second. Another advantage of Centurion, is that it makes a distinctive noise
when firing, warning people nearby that a mortar or rocket attack is underway,
giving people an opportunity to duck inside if they are out and about.
C-RAM was sent to Iraq in late 2006, to protect the Green Zone (the large area
in Baghdad turned into an American base). It was found that C-RAM could knock
down 70-80 percent of the rockets and mortar shells fired within range of its
cannon. In the last two years, Centurion systems in Iraq have intercepted over
a hundred rockets or mortar shells aimed at the Green Zone. Not bad, since it
only took about a year to develop C-RAM. A Mobile Centurion system, which can
cover an area about four kilometers wide, costs $15 million. The manufacturer
will be turning out four a month.