Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM)

The US Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA), in support of the Product Manager Air and Missile Defense Command and Control Systems (PM AMDCCS), has conducted analysis estimating collateral damage for candidate Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) systems.

The Air Defense Artillery branch is working diligently with the Field Artillery School to develop a capability to defeat rockets, artillery, and mortars. This initiative is known as Counter-RAM, or C-RAM. Experiments have proven there may be a nearterm capability but how large the initial deployment will be and how many systems we will buy is still unknown. If the C-RAM capability proves to be successful, manning of the interceptor system and its supporting command sections will be an ADA mission.

The chief of staff of the Army directed a near term fielding of a CRAM capability. Rocket, artillery, and mortar attacks are significant cause of hostile deaths in Iraq, and the CRAM directive comes in response to an operational needs statement from the Multinational Corps-Iraq (MNC-I).

Three systems have been proposed to meet this need: the 20mm Phalanx Close in Weapon System, a Navy anti-ship missile defense system; the 35mm Skyshield, a Swiss rotary wing air defense system; and the Active Protection System, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for anti-tank missile defense.

The Army received two of the latest Phalanx 1B systems, affectionately known as "R2-D2" to Navy personnel, for evaluation under a Navy contract signed in March 2005. PHALANX provides U.S. Navy ships with a "last-chance" defense against anti-ship missiles and littoral warfare threats that have penetrated other fleet defenses. It automatically detects, tracks and engages anti-air warfare threats such as anti-ship missiles and aircraft, while the Block 1B's man-in-the-loop system counters the emerging littoral warfare threat.

The overall evaluation of the selection of a system is based on performance in a number of areas. Each system must successfully identify, track, and engage the incoming threat munition. The system must also demonstrate a capability to destroy the threat while minimizing collateral damage.

Using detailed characteristics of both the candidate munitions and firing platforms in conjunction with proven analytical methods, AMSAA developed collateral damage estimates. The estimates were developed across a spectrum of CRAM engagement conditions for three injury types--skin penetration, wounds requiring hospitalization, and wounds causing death. Results from the analysis are being used by PM AMDCCS to help in the overall evaluation and selection of a system to meet the war fighter's needs.

Unlike at sea, collateral damage on land could be a factor, particularly when the C-RAM is transferred to an urban setting. In an urban area, if C-RAM is able to knock these mortars out and have them explode up in the air, the debris and the shrapnel from some of those rounds are going to fall. This can cause some civilian casualties.

Tests showed that C-RAM had a 60 to 70 percent shoot-down capability.

The Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2) is the integrating software that provides target track data and weapon system control for the initial Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) capability being deployed to Iraq in FY05.

On 16 December 2004, TARDEC's Active Defense Systems team conducted test simulation activities. The first activity involved a live interceptor being loaded while waiting for a live mortar to fall within engagement range. This was followed by Mortar Tracking System(MTS) RADAR providing IAAPS a cue. The system then tracked the mortar, computed a fire control solution, fired, updated the fuse timing in flight, and the interceptor appeared to engage the mortar "nose to nose" at the prescribed standoff in front of the mortar.

High-speed video showed that the mortar was knocked askew, went into a flat fall, and appeared to damage at least one fin. It then continued to fall sideways, but eventually seemed to right itself, and struck the earth at a slight angle, exploding upon hitting the ground. Upon recovery and inspection of the mortar, only the tail section was found. Multiple fragment hits were evident on the fins, one fin was clearly severed by an interceptor fragment, and another showed clear fragment impact.

It is noteworthy that these milestones were reached just four weeks after receipt of contractual "go ahead". This simulation is considered as a success for the IAAPS system due to the large number of "firsts":

  • First "end-to-end" engagement versus a mortar round.
  • First launch of "Quick Connect" MK-2 interceptor with energetic warhead and reusable tube from the gimbaled launcher.
  • First elevated angle intercept.
  • First update in flight based on interceptor "first motion".
  • First use of automated wind correction.
  • Just the second attempt ever at extended intercept range.
  • First intercept using new upgraded RADAR Signal Processor.
  • First hand-off from a search RADAR to the IAAPS APS track RADAR

There was a whole collection of experiments that looked at ways to destroy incoming missiles and/or mortars, and identify the source. The Army collected that into a system we call counter-rocket artillery mortar, or CRAM, which was spiraling into the current force as of May 2005. They have been reported as having successfully knocked down incoming mortar rounds.

On 24 October 2005 the U.S. Army selected Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) as the prime contractor for the Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) Integration and Fielding contract. C-RAM will help protect U.S. and coalition troops against mortars and rockets fired by insurgents. Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector is developing a systems architecture and integrating the C-RAM target acquisition, fire control, warning and engagement subsystems. Under a $38 million contract, Northrop Grumman will first deploy a mortar-attack warning capability and install that capability at eight forward operating bases in Iraq. Northrop Grumman Mission Systems will also train soldiers to use the system and integrate an intercept subsystem as it is fielded. The contract is managed by the Director, Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar in the Army's Program Executive Office, Command Control and Communications Tactical.

C-RAM uses target acquisition sensors, including Firefinder and Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, to detect and track fired rounds. The AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar system is produced by Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. Once a threat is detected, audio and visual alarms sound to warn exposed soldiers. A fire-control subsystem predicts the mortar's flight path, prioritizes targets, activates the warning system, and provides cueing data to defeat the mortar round while still in the air.

The complete C-RAM system networks a ground-based version of Phalanx together with the Army's Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar (LCMR) and Q-36 Target Acquisition Radar (AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder Radar). Unlike the naval version, C-RAM does not fire solid tungsten penetrators. Instead, self-destructing explosive bullets are used, in order to reduce the risk of civilian and friendly casualties.

The fire-control subsystem Northrop Grumman Mission Systems provides for C-RAM uses software modified from FAAD C2, which ties together the sensors and weapons of the Army's short-range air-defense battalions. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for FAAD C2, which is operational throughout the world and has been especially critical to homeland security efforts in the Washington, DC area.

On August 09, 2006 Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $6,934,214 firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5460) for land based phalanx weapon system ancillary equipment. This modification is for ancillary equipment for Army land based Phalanx weapon system, which is the Phalanx close-in weapon system in the land-based configuration for the Army's counter-rocket, artillery, mortar program. Work will be performed in Louisville, Ky., and is expected to be completed by April 2007. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

In September 2006, it was reported that the Israeli military expressed an interest in this weapon as well as in Skyshield, the land version of the Millennium system.

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