Electronic Weapons: Giraffes And Phalanx


September 4, 2012: Australia has upgraded their early warning (against rocket attacks) radars in Afghanistan with Swedish Giraffe AMB radars. Giraffe also tracks aircraft but is mainly used to provide early warning (20 seconds or more) for rocket attacks and link to the C-RAM (Counter-Rockets And Missiles) anti-rocket systems used to defend the Multi National Base in Tarin Kot. The Giraffe system has been in Afghanistan for ten months now and has proved more reliable and accurate than its predecessor. The main Australian base gets one or two rocket attacks a month and most are spotted by Giraffe and intercepted by C-RAM.

For the last two years Australia has been using C-RAM in Afghanistan. This is basically the American Phalanx naval gun system with new software that enables it to take data from its own, or other radar systems, and shoot down just about any kind of artillery shell or rocket within range (about 2,000 meters). It 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. At least that was the experience in Iraq and there are many fewer civilians outside bases in Afghanistan. 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.

The first C-RAM was sent to Iraq in late 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. In the last five years C-RAM systems in Iraq and Afghanistan have intercepted several hundred rockets or mortar shells aimed at bases. Not bad, since it only took about a year to develop. A C-RAM system, which can cover an area about four kilometers wide, costs $15 million. In addition to the United States Britain, Australia, and Israel have also bought C-RAM. There is a mobile version, mounted on a flatbed trailer, and hauled by a tractor called Centurion.


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