Procurement: German Missiles Guard The Gulf


June 12, 2007: The United Arab Emirates has purchased seven U.S. RIM-116 "Rolling Air Frame" (RAM) anti-missile missile systems for six of their corvettes, and a land based training installation. Each system will cost about $11 million, and deliveries will begin by the end of the year.

The RAM itself is German, but the radar and fire control is often the same found in the Phalanx anti-missile system, with RAMs replacing the 20mm cannon. 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 cannon (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.

RAM based system have eleven or 21 missiles ready to fire, and can engage several targets at once, something the original (20mm cannon) Phalanx could not do. 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.

RAM can use either a Phalanx fire control system, or any other system that can detect incoming missiles quickly enough. Over a hundred warships (mostly German and American) already use RAM based anti-missile systems.




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