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2010 test-fire of a C-RAM. Balad, Iraq
Nächstbereichschutzsystem MANTIS of the Luftwaffe

Counter rocket, artillery, and mortar, abbreviated C-RAM or counter-RAM, is a set of systems used to detect and/or destroy incoming rockets, artillery, and mortar rounds in the air before they hit their ground targets, or simply provide early warning.


United States: Land-Based Phalanx Weapon System[edit]

A video of a US test fire

The 20mm Land-Based Phalanx Weapon System (also called C-RAM) is a land-based variant of the U.S. Navy's Phalanx close-in weapon system, a radar-controlled rapid-fire gun for close-in protection of vessels from missiles.[1] Both use a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera to allow their operators to visually identify incoming fire before opening fire. But while naval Phalanx systems fire tungsten armor-piercing rounds, the C-RAM uses the 20mm HEIT-SD (high-explosive incendiary tracer, self-destruct) ammunition, originally developed for the M163 Vulcan air defense system. These rounds explode on impact with the target, or on tracer burnout, thereby greatly reducing the risk of collateral damage from rounds that fail to hit their target.

Israel: Iron Dome[edit]

Iron Dome is an Israeli missile system featuring multiple-target tracking and self-guided missile interceptors. Due to the ongoing increase of its engagement range and new missile and interception improvements, plus surface-to-air missile capability, it has developed into a fully-fledged air defense system. By November 2012, the system had intercepted over 400 rockets fired into Israel by Gaza Strip militants. Based on operational success, defense reporter Mark Thompson estimates that Iron Dome is currently the most effective counter-missile system in existence.[citation needed]

Germany: Nächstbereichschutzsystem MANTIS[edit]

Nächstbereichschutzsystem MANTIS is a 35mm fully automated C-RAM system, produced by Rheinmetall based on Oerlikon's Skyshield. It has been in use by the Luftwaffe from 2011.

Germany: Skynex[edit]

Skynex is a short-range air defense and C-RAM system produced by Rheinmetall. It integrates Oerlikon Skyshield guns, radar, and control unit on Rheinmetall HX trucks. It has been used by Ukraine since 2023.[2]

Italy: Porcupine[edit]

A typical Porcupine configuration for the Italian Army consists of four firing units, one central control post for target designation and weapon control and a 3D radar system "track while scan type" for surveillance and target tracking. Each remote firing unit consists of a 20 mm M61A1 Gatling cannon, its ammunition handling system and a stabilised optronic infra-red (IR) tracking system.[3]

Italy: DRACO[edit]

The DRACO is a multipurpose weapon station prototype designed for use against air, R.A.M. and surface targets. It was designed for the Italian Army by OTO-Melara using the Centauro 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle chassis. The main armament consists of a 76mm, 62 caliber gun with an automatic ammunition loading system and a firing rate of 80-100 rounds per minute.[4] The 76mm gun is electrically controlled for elevation and traversing, and is stabilized in elevation. DRACO can be installed on 8x8 wheeled platforms, for combat support operations or convoy defence, as well as on tracked vehicles or on shelters for point defence. The main gun and the automatic loading system are fully compatible with all in service 76mm rounds and also with 76mm DART guided ammunition. DRACO can be completely controlled by two Operators (the Commander and the Gunner) from a remote position, located inside the hull for mobile installation or inside a protected command shelter for fixed installation.[5]

China: LD-2000[edit]

The LD-2000 SPAAGM is a Chinese developed land-based close-in weapon system. LD-2000 is based on the Chinese Navy's Type 730 CIWS. In operation, it pairs with a Counter Battery Radar.[6]

Netherlands: Goalkeeper[edit]

Goalkeeper CIWS is a Dutch close-in weapon system (CIWS) introduced in 1979. It is an autonomous and completely automatic weapon system for short-range defence of ships against highly manoeuvrable missiles, aircraft and fast-manoeuvering surface vessels. Once activated the system automatically undertakes the entire air defence process from surveillance and detection to destruction, including the selection of the next priority target.

Russia: AK-630[edit]

The AK-630 is a Soviet and Russian fully automatic naval close-in weapon system based on a six-barreled 30 mm rotary cannon. It is mounted in an enclosed automatic turret and directed by MR-123 radar and television detection and tracking. The system's primary purpose is defense against anti-ship missiles and other precision guided weapons. However it can also be employed against fixed or rotary wing aircraft, ships and other small craft, coastal targets, and floating mines.

Directed energy research[edit]

The United States has been enhancing its directed-energy weapon capabilities aimed at countering threats posed by missiles. A directed-energy weapon is a ranged weapon system that inflicts damage at a target by the emission of highly focused energy, including laser, microwaves and particle beams. The US Army awarded a $29m contract in 2016 to Kratos Defense & Security Solutions for prototyping of such systems.

The U.S. defense contractor Raytheon is developing a laser-based variation where low cost focused lasers will provide increased range and decreased time-to-intercept over the gun. A proof of concept was demonstrated on a 60 mm mortar round in 2006.[7]

Iron Beam is an air defense system in development by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.[8] Unveiled at the 2014 Singapore Air Show on 11 February,[9] the system is designed to destroy short-range rockets, artillery, and mortars with a range of up to 7 km (4.3 mi), too small for the Iron Dome system to intercept effectively.[8] In addition, the system could also intercept unmanned aerial vehicles.[10] Iron Beam will use a "directed high energy laser beam" to destroy hostile targets with ranges of up to 7 kilometres (4.3 mi).[8][11] Iron Beam will constitute the fifth element of Israel's integrated air defense system,[8] in addition to Arrow 2, Arrow 3, David's Sling, and Iron Dome.[12] However, Iron Beam is also a stand-alone system.[10]

Operating units (by country)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) Intercept Land-Based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS)". USAASC. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  2. ^ Danylov, Oleg (27 April 2023). "Ukraine has already received Rheinmetall Skynex short-range air defense systems". Mezha.media. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  3. ^ a b "PORCUPINE C-RAM – DETAIL – Leonardo – Aerospace, Defence and Security". Otomelara.it. Archived from the original on 22 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Draco 76 mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun | MilitaryToday.com". www.militarytoday.com. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  5. ^ a b "DRACO – DETAIL – Leonardo – Aerospace, Defence and Security". Otomelara.it. Archived from the original on 21 December 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  6. ^ Kopp, Carlo (October 2010). "Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar futures" (PDF). Australia Air Power.
  7. ^ "A Laser Phalanx?". Defense Industry Daily. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d Williams, Dan (19 January 2014). "Israel plans laser interceptor 'Iron Beam' for short-range rockets". JERUSALEM. Reuters. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  9. ^ http://www.rafael.co.il/Marketing/195-1951-en/Marketing.aspx [bare URL]
  10. ^ a b Eshel, Tamir (19 January 2014). "RAFAEL Develops a New High Energy Laser Weapon".
  11. ^ Israeli company to unveil laser defense | UTSanDiego.com
  12. ^ "Israel's Rafael to Unveil Laser-based Defense System". Haaretz.
  13. ^ "16th Air Land Regiment, RAA". Australian Army. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  14. ^ "Flugabwehrgruppe 61" [Air Defence Group 61] (in German). Luftwaffe (German Air Force). Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Air Defense: Chinese C-RAM Gets No Takers". Strategy Page. 6 July 2011.
  16. ^ "Royal Artillery Careers". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Other operational commitments are conducted (in the tertiary role) using C-RAM – a new and highly sensitive self defense system which destroys rockets and projectiles in flight. Applicable to Gunner Rapier applicants only.