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RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)

The RIM-116 is a short-range (9km) naval SAM used by the German and US navies as terminal-range anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense for warships. The name comes from the fact that the airframe of the missile rolls (spins) in flight, which allows the control fin arrangement and radar antennas to be simplified. Technically the rolling-airframe design could be used with most any missile, though this is the only currently deployed missile with that feature. Should another be introduced, it may well gain a new designation; Defender and Pilum have been suggested. It was approved for fleet deployment in the US in 1992.

RAM Block 0, also called RIM-116A, is the initial version of RAM. It employs the rocket motor from the Army's MIM-72 Chaparral, the warhead from the AIM-9 Sidewinder and the infrared seeker from the FIM-92 Stinger, plus a purely passive radar guidance system which homes in on enemy radar transmissions. On launch, the weapon steers toward the strongest source of radar within its seeker cone, then maneuvers for an intercept, switching to infrared guidance once at extreme close range. It then makes contact with the target or detonates nearby using a laser proximity fuse, and destroys the target with a 20lb blast-fragmentation warhead.

RAM Block 1, RIM-116B, adds a superior infrared seeker, allowing the use of IR guidance all the way from launch to impact. This makes it possible to intercept radar-free anti-ship missiles like the RGM-119 Penguin, and also gives it capability against helicopters and close-in surface contacts.

RAM is slowly replacing the Phalanx CIWS throughout the USN, and has been the preferred point-defense weapon on German warships for several years now. Several aircraft carriers including the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower have had one each of their Sea Sparrow and Phalanx mounts replaced with RAM. It is usually fired from a 22-cell Mk. 43 launcher, though an alternate configuration, called SeaRAM combines a smaller 11-cell launcher with the turret and radar from Phalanx to act as a completely drop-in replacement for Phalanx. A proposed future configuration combines this with two GAU-12 Equalizer 25mm Gatling guns to make a weapon similar to the Russian CADS-N-1 Kashtan.

General Characteristics, RIM-116 RAM

  • Length: 2.82 m (9 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 43.8 cm (17.25 in)
  • Diameter: 12.7 cm (5 in)
  • Weight: 73 kg (162 lb)
  • Speed: Mach 2+ (exact maximum classified)
  • Range: 9 km (5 nm)
  • Propulsion: MK 112 MOD 1 solid-fueled rocket
  • Warhead: 9.1 kg (20 lb) blast-fragmentation

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