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Japan will acquire 51 Raytheon-made Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$55.311m. The U.S State Department has already made a determination approving the possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Japan. These RAM Block 2 Tactical missiles will provide significantly enhanced area defence capabilities over critical East Asian and Western Pacific Air and Sea-Lines of Communication.

According to Raytheon Missiles and Defense, the RAM guided missile weapon system is one of the most modern ship self-defence weapons and is designed to provide exceptional protection for ships of all sizes. It’s currently deployed on more than 165 ships in 11 countries, ranging from 500-ton Fast Attack Craft to 95,000-ton Aircraft Carriers.

A supersonic, lightweight, quick-reaction, fire-and-forget weapon, the RAM system is designed to destroy anti-ship missiles. Requiring no additional direction upon launch, its passive radio frequency and infrared guidance design provide high firepower to engage multiple threats simultaneously. The missile is continually improved to stay ahead of the ever-evolving threat of anti-ship missiles, helicopters, aircraft and surface craft.

RAM Block 2 Missile

The Block 2 variant is the latest evolution in the development of the RAM missile and has a larger rocket motor, advanced control section and an enhanced RF receiver capable of detecting the quietest of threat emitters. The improvements make the missile two and a half times more maneuverable, with one and a half times the effective intercept range. This provides the Block 2 variant with the capability to defeat highly stressing threats, increasing the survivability of the defended ship.

Launching system

The MK 44 guided missile round pack and the MK 49 guided missile launching system, which holds 21 missiles, comprise the MK 31 guided missile weapon system. The system is designed to be easily integrated into many different ships, while a variety of existing ship sensors can readily provide the target and pointing information required to engage the anti-ship threat.

The MK 44 missile is also used in the SeaRAM anti-ship missile defence system, replacing the M601A1 Gatling gun in the PHALANX Close-in Weapon System with an 11-round launcher. The PHALANX system’s sensor suite and internal Combat Management System reduces dependency on the ship’s combat system and enables a fast reaction to anti-ship missiles. The RAM Block 2 missile has been successfully fired from a SeaRAM system.

International cooperation

The RAM weapon system is an international cooperative program between the United States and Germany. Development, production and maintenance costs are shared among Raytheon Missiles & Defense and the German companies LFK, DBD and RAMSYS. Licensed production of the RAM system’s GMRP is also underway in Korea.

J C Menon