Indirect fire -- milspeak for mortars and rockets -- is one of the biggest killers in Iraq after roadside bombs. Big sprawling bases are particularly vulnerable. I should know. Last fall a mortar blew up my trailer at a British base in Basra, just five minutes after I had left it. To defend against these threats, last year the U.S. military rushed modified Phalanx naval guns to Iraq: Phalanx, a 20-millimeter radar-guided rotary cannon system designed to kill anti-ship missiles, proved effective at swatting down some incoming rounds. Now a NATO group is trying to improve on that concept.
“The Defence Against Mortar Attack Proof of Concept Demonstration, hosted by Germany, will be a significant milestone for both the Dutch-led DAMA Working Group, and NATO’s Programme of Work for the Defence Against Terrorism,” says Mario Bartoli, NATO’s Counter-Terrorism Technology Coordinator. He adds that a live-fire test is planned for next week.
The system appears to be based on Oerlikon's 35-millimeter Skyshield cannon with improved radar and ammunition. Rheinmetall, which is developing the new DAMA system, has more info on its website:
Skyshield was initially conceived as an air defence system, a task which it performs extremely well. Various tests have confirmed the system's potential for counter-RAM operations: in the USA and Germany, field trials have shown that the fire unit is able to detect and identify RAM targets, and that ammunition originally designed for air defence purposes can hit these targets. However, owing to the relatively low weight of the sub-projectiles, they generally proved incapable of shooting down RAM targets; at best, the grenades or missiles were deflected from their flight path. It has since been shown that heavier sub-projectiles can destroy incoming rocket-propelled grenades.
--David Axe, cross-posted at War Is Boring