Army C-RAM Intercepts 100th Mortar Bomb in Iraq


The U.S. Army announced its counter mortar weapon systems successfully intercepted 100 enemy fired mortar bombs protecting multi-national Corps Iraq assets. The Centurion systems, a ground based version of the 20mm Naval Phalanx point defense weapon was declared initial operational capable in July 2005. It scored its first intercept in March 2006. Since then, C-RAM system deployed in theater provided over 1,500 localized warnings, allowing troops time to take protective cover.

Systems are currently developed as an Integrated Base Defense System of Systems, protecting a training base, combat training centers and selected U.S. and Coalition forward operating bases in Iraq. In each deployment the capabilities of C-RAM are tailored specifically to the location.

“Defeating the RAM threat is not accomplished by any one piece of equipment, tactic, organizational or individual effort, but by a comprehensive effort with many contributing sources,” said C-RAM Program director, Michael J. Van Rassen. He explains that C-RAM effects are not necessarily only kinetic. In addition to the kinetic effect (target kill) the system proved valuable when its data could enhance situational awareness, and, with timely distribution of data, has made it possible for soldiers to kill or capture enemy units firing on coalition forces. The system also proved its capability to integrate with airspace management as it automatically aborted intercepts to preclude endangering friendly aircraft from rounds fired by C-RAM’s intercept system. The current C-RAM system comprises existing field artillery and air defense sensors, a commercial industry produced warning system, and the Phalanx guns. The system is tied to various response systems via U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Army battle command systems.

The C-RAM program was initiated at the request of the U.S. Army Chief of Staff in May 2004. C-RAM has been on a rapid development path, conducting its proof of principle test in November 2004 which was followed by a series of spiral developments, operational demonstrations, and staged deployments beginning in 2005.

After initially rejecting the Centurion as a possible countermeasure that could defeat rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel Ministry of Defense reassessed its position and has ordered one system for evaluation in country. According to initial plans, several systems would be required to protect an area the size of the city of Sderot, which suffers daily Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza strip for the past seven years.