28, 2008: Germany is ready to begin
producing its Skyshield 35 C-RAM system (Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar),
and get it to Afghanistan next year. Skyshield 35 C-RAM consists of two 35mm guns (each with 228 rounds of ammo) and a radar. It operates
automatically, much like the U.S. 20mm Phalanx system.) Each target (an
incoming mortar round) is spotted by the radar, which then points one of the
guns in the right direction and fires off 10-12 rounds, which intercept the
incoming shells with airbursts of fragments which cause the mortar shells to
miss their target.
C-RAM is a version of the Phalanx, designed to protect large bases from mortar
and rocket attack. The original Phalanx was a 20mm cannon designed to defend
American warships against anti-ship missiles. Phalanx does this by using a
radar that immediately starts firing at any incoming missile it detects. The
C-RAM system has its software modified to detect smaller objects (like 82mm
mortar shells). This came about when it was discovered that the original
Phalanx could take out incoming 155mm artillery shells. This capability is what
led to C-RAM.
modifications include linking Phalanx to the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar
and Q-36 Target Acquisition Radar. When these radars detect incoming fire,
C-RAM points toward the incoming objects and prepares to fire at anything that
comes within range (about 2,000 meters) of its cannon. C-RAM 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. 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 C-RAM, 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.
U.S. C-RAM was sent to Iraq in 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. It took about a year to develop C-RAM, and another version, using a
high-powered laser, instead of the 20mm gun, is in development.