Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems says its latest version of a ship-defense system, co-developed with Germany, has successfully intercepted a missile target.
Raytheon’s SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system used a Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2 for the first time to intercept an incoming target during a U.S. Navy live-fire exercise at China Lake in California.
During a test conducted in November and announced on Monday, the system detected, tracked and engaged an inbound threat, and fired a RAM Block 2 that successfully intercepted the target, Raytheon said.
The SeaRAM system was configured with a nearby Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, made by Raytheon, similar to how the two systems would be deployed together on Navy destroyers, the company said.
The SeaRAM is a hybrid system, consisting of an 11-round Rolling Airframe Missile launcher mounted on a Phalanx chassis and radar unit. The Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled radar and 20mm gun system designed to detect, track and destroys enemy threats that have penetrated all other ship-defense systems.
Both systems are designed to defend against air threats, including low-flying anti-ship cruise missiles, which pose a danger to aircraft carriers and other large warships.
The RAM Block 2 missile version, which was declared initially ready for service last May, features enhanced maneuverability and range as well as improved radio receivers and control systems, Raytheon says.
The RAM Block 1 missile has a reported effective intercept range of about 5.6 miles; Raytheon says the Block 2 missile is 2½ times more maneuverable with 1½ times the effective range.
The name of the roughly 9-foot-long, 5-inch diameter missile refers to the way it is designed to spin like a bullet to stabilize itself during flight.
The RAM system, which has a 21-round missile magazine, was co-developed by Raytheon and Germany’s RAMSYS and was first deployed aboard U.S. and allied ships in the mid-1990s. Besides the U.S. and Germany, Japan, Greece, Turkey, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have deployed the RAM system.
The two companies will share work potentially worth up to $143 million under a RAM procurement contract awarded by the Navy on Dec. 31.
The initial contract for $66.6 million includes options that could bring the cumulative value to $142.8 million, and it includes an option for foreign military sales to an undisclosed international customer. The initial contract work is expected to be completed by February 2018.
Much of Raytheon’s work on the RAM and Phalanx systems is performed at its Louisville, Kentucky, plant.