RAM-Rolling Airframe Missile (photo : Strategy Page)
Raytheon Company's (NYSE: RTN) Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2 successfully completed three instrumented test vehicle flights between April and October designed to demonstrate the system's upgraded kinematic capabilities.
The tests focused on RAM's rocket motor, airframe, control section and autopilot software. Raytheon will build 35 Block p missiles during the design and development test period and expects a low rate initial production contract will follow.
The RAM Block 2 upgrade includes a four-axis independent control actuator system and an improved rocket motor with a 30 percent increase in propellant.
These and other upgrades increase the missile's effective range and deliver a significant improvement in maneuverability. The improved missile also incorporates an upgraded passive radio frequency seeker, a digital autopilot and engineering changes in selected infrared seeker components.
"Block 2 will allow RAM to control the battlespace against emerging and more maneuverable anti-ship cruise missile threats," said Frank Wyatt, Raytheon's vice president of Naval Weapon Systems. "This improved system is one of the most advanced kinematic missiles in the world and sets the standard for performance and control system technology."
RAM is a supersonic, lightweight, quick reaction, fire-and-forget missile providing defense against anti-ship cruise missiles, helicopter and airborne threats, and hostile surface craft. The missile's autonomous dual-mode, passive radio frequency and infrared guidance design provides a high-firepower capability for engaging multiple threats simultaneously. Produced in partnership by Raytheon and RAMSYS of Germany, RAM is aboard nearly 100 ships as an integral self-defense weapon for the navies of the United States, Germany, Greece, Korea, Egypt, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
See Also :
Why SeaRAM is Superior to Phalanx
12 April 2006
Raytheon's SeaRAM (photo : Raytheon)
The Phalanx anti-missile system is being replaced by SeaRAM. What's interesting about this is that SeaRAM is basically the Phalanx system, with the 20mm gun replaced with a box of eleven RAM (RIM-116 "Rolling Air Frame") missiles. The Phalanx was developed in the 1970s, and entered service in 1977.
RAM was developed in the 1980s, and didn't enter service until 1993. RAM has a longer range (7.5 kilometers) than the Phalanx (two kilometers) and was originally designed to be aimed using the ships fire control systems. Phalanx, on the other hand, has its own radar and fire control system and, once turned on, will automatically fire at any incoming missiles. This was necessary, as some anti-ship missiles travel at over a 500 meters a second. With SeaRAM, you've got a little more time, and can knock down the incoming missile farther from the ship.
This is important, because it was feared that a large, very fast anti-ship missile (which the Russians prefer, and sell to foreigners), even when shot up by Phalanx, might still end up having parts of it slam into the target ship. Since SeaRAM has eleven missiles ready to fire, it can also engage several targets at once, something the Phalanx could not do.
SeaRAM Control Station (photo : Rayheon)
The RAM missiles are 127mm in diameter, 9.3 feet long and weigh 162 pounds each. The terminal guidance system is heat seeking. Basically, it uses the rocket motor and warhead from the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and the guidance system from the Stinger shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile. SeaRAM missiles cost about $450,000 each.
SeaRAM is meant to provide combat support ships that normally have no defenses, or at least no combat radars and fire control system. The new LCS will use the SeaRAM as well.