German troops get protection from falling skies

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Germany is deploying the modified and improved C-RAM version of Skyshield to Afghanistan to provide its bases there protection against rocket, artillery, and mortar bombardments.

The C-RAM (Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar) version of Skyshield was ordered under a contract worth €110.8 million to manufacturer Rheinmetall.  

The current contract encompasses two systems as well as an option for additional services such as documentation and training at a later date, worth another approximately €20 million. Under a follow-on contract, worth around €13.4 million, Rheinmetall will also supply the corresponding ammunition.

Dubbed the Nachstbereichs-Schutzsystem (NBS), or “very short-range protection system”, the state-of-the-art system is regarded as “a major milestone in the Bundeswehr‘s SysFla programme,” which is progressively upgrading Germany‘s air defence capabilities.

“Until now, the Bundeswehr – like the armed forces of other nations – lacked a weapon system capable of intercepting small incoming projectiles; in recent months, Bundeswehr bases in Kunduz and Masar-I-Sharif have come under repeated attack by insurgents employing typical hit-and-run tactics,” Rheinmetall says in a statement.
“The NBS C-RAM is specifically designed to defeat the threat which rocket, artillery and mortar attacks pose to Bundeswehr units deployed in hazardous areas of operation.”

“Building on decades of expertise and experience in the field of air defence, Rheinmetall’s ‘Skyshield` technology will make it possible to detect, track and shoot down incoming projectiles before they can reach their target, with virtually no advance warning,” the statement adds.
“Moreover, since the sensor data enable determination of the impact zone as well as attacker’s location, base personnel are able to take cover and/or appropriate countermeasures. The system remains in a high state of readiness around the clock.
“An NBS C-RAM system consists of an operations/fire control centre, two sensor units and six 35mm automatic guns. These are capable of firing 1000 rounds per minute and, like the fire control unit, are largely automated. The automatic guns fire programmable “Ahead” ammunition, developed by Rheinmetall specifically for C-RAM applications.

The statement boldly adds the Bundeswehr will be the world’s first army to possess an effective defence against this kind of asymmetric threat, which is particularly prevalent in Afghanistan.”

This does not appear to be true. The US Army deployed a land-based version of the US Navy`s General Dynamics Phalanx close-in weapon system in and around Baghdad in the summer of 2005. Britain has also deployed a number in the south of Iraq and Israel is considering buying the system to counter rocket attacks out of Gaza and Lebanon.