Join the Alliance

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
C-RAM in Action- Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar system. Photo Credits: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Patrick Kirby, 40th Public Affairs Detachment

We congratulate the U.S. Department of Defense on the rapid deployment of NASAMS missile defense batteries to Ukraine to defend critical assets, infrastructure, and population centers against Russian cruise missile strikes that have claimed thousands of Ukrainian lives over the past eight months. The first two NASAMS firing units will be operationally deployed in Ukraine and will have their first combat interceptions within the next month. Six more NASAMS firing units will follow the first set of two. This establishes much needed air and missile defensive capabilities to save lives and protect vital strategic priorities with capacity for Ukraine, just as Russia increases its missile attacks and possibly opens a second front from Belarus.

Russia’s introduction and gradual increasing use of Iranian drones over the last month in Ukraine adds an additional layer of attack capabilities on top of Russia’s existing rocket, artillery, cruise missile, ballistic missile, and hypersonic missile combat arsenal. Ukrainian forces do not have a Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) capability, instead they are having to expend the existing less-efficient intercept capabilities on the slow moving Iranian Shahed-136 Drones, which cost $30,000 a drone. Ukraine currently uses a variety of defense systems to defeat these drones, from the S-300s to MANPADS Stinger missiles, to guns, the latter two providing greater maneuverability to engage and destroy a drone of this size. There is an extremely high cost associated with an S-300 or similar air and missile defense system with engaging a drone.

Over the last two weeks, Ukraine’s Emergency Services reported that Russian launched attacks from the air, sea, and land against Ukrainian civilians spanned across at least 14 regions in Ukraine, deep into Ukraine far from the front lines of the battle. In Kiev, on October 17th, the capital city was blasted by a deadly wave of the Iranian Shahed -136 “kamikaze” drones. Over the last several weeks, Russia has relentlessly targeted civilian infrastructure and population centers, while the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry reported that, as of October 18th, Ukraine’s armed forces have shot down 223 out of 450 Iranian dronesOn October 19, 6 X-101 cruise missiles were launched by Russia. On October 22, 17 Kh-101 and 16 Kalibr cruise missiles were also launched by the Kremlin.

The impending Ukrainian deployment of 2 NASAMS firing units, and the existing Harpoon system by the Black Sea warrant the co-deployment of integrated C-RAM capabilities alongside these critical Ukrainian missile systems. The Russians will be determined to target these capabilities using Iranian Drones because these Ukrainian systems can otherwise deny Russian strategic objectives. The emplacement of a C-RAM ability will not only provide a defensive fires capability in support of NASAMS firing units, but also an additional layer of air and missile defense capitalizing on air defense principles of massing ADA capabilities, employing a mix of ADA weapons and integration of systems to maximize effectiveness.

The United States has successfully operationally deployed C-RAM in combat in the CENTCOM area of responsibility to defend forward operating and air bases that have saved thousands and thousands of American and allied lives. The C-RAM is combat proven and was first introduced into CENTCOM in 2005 with a sensing and warning capability. There were close to 40 C-RAM units developed, deployed, and operated by the U.S. Army and National Guard. Most notably the C-RAMs were in place to support the withdrawal in Afghanistan; a number of units were deliberately left behind (after being destroyed) to provide C-RAM defense until the very last few aircraft departed. This reduced the remaining number of C-RAMs considerably. With the limited capacity remaining, all of the C-RAMS remain forward, defending joint, partner, and U.S. bases in the Middle East. These combat C-RAM deployments have included placement in urban cities such as Baghdad. C-RAM training is hosted by the ADA Fires School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma where the National Guard of several states, including Oklahoma, Texas, and Hawaii receive hands-on training on the fundamentals of C-RAM operations, employment, and maintenance of the weapons and sensors.

The C-RAM is derived from the U.S. Navy’s “Phalanx” Close in Weapon System (CIWS), which is on nearly every surface combat vessel intended to provide for point defense. C-RAM was rapidly developed to take the CIWS on to a land-based platform with the US Army. The C-RAM can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute, with typically 300 rounds used per engagement at 27 dollars a round, making $8,100 dollars the total cost per engagement. The C-RAM has combat proven success in intercepting thousands and thousands of rockets, artillery, mortars, and drones (Class 3 and below) since 2004 and remains active today in combat. 

Missile Interceptors deployable to UkraineCost
NASAM AMRAAM$1,095,000
S-300 Interceptor$777,000 
NASAM AIM-9x (not approved for Ukraine)$337,000
Stinger Missile/MANPADS$38,000- $100,000 

Ukraine requires the rapid deployment of at least two combat proven C-RAM units to defend its two NASAMS, and a third combat proven C-RAM to defend its Harpoon weapon systems near the Black Sea against Russian drone attacks. In the near future, there is the possibility of the VAMPIRE, which is a Counter UAS kinetic system, will be able to be mounted in the bed of a small pickup truck to be deployed. The far future awaits an IFPIC that is dependent on IBCS and the Marine system using $80,000 Tamir interceptors. A number of counter-drone capabilities exist, both kinetic and non-kinetic, which should be given serious consideration for deployment to support the Ukrainian efforts, in doing so, force packaging all these capabilities is a must to support current operations and future war plans.  We can’t wait for the near or far future to save lives that are being lost today and tomorrow. 

Now is the time to scale up defense capabilities urgently and increase our capacity to produce and rapidly deploy our already combat proven capabilities, like the C-RAM and NASAMS. There is no time to wait – Russia and China are coming with missiles, drones, and rockets because the West is not using its full capabilities to defend against their missile and drone inventories. The U.S must deploy this capability to protect its interests abroad, contributing to the whole defense of the homeland. This is the best way to create a well-rounded and integrated deterrence and defense architecture because C-RAM is the proper defense system for the Ukrainian situation, financially, and for its combat proven success.

The human and physical destruction we are witnessing in Ukraine by Russia is a microcosm of the type of destruction we could witness with war on and over Taiwan by China. Lives can be saved now, and future wars can be prevented if we act with urgency to: 

1) Produce and deploy the cost-effective, Combat-proven Missile Defense systems that we have in the inventory right now and at accelerated rates.  

2) To have Congress fully fund and have DOD accelerate the RDT&E and deployment of Directed Energy, cutting-edge Electromagnetic and Cyber capabilities within a comprehensive Missile Defense architecture.  

3) Systematically network and mesh all of these capabilities in a Joint All Domain C2 with Allies and Partners to produce an incontrovertible global integrated Deterrence and Defense system of systems.

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.