Goalkeeper close-in weapon system (CIWS)
Goalkeeper close-in weapon system (CIWS)

Royal Netherlands Navy to Replace Goalkeeper CIWS with Leonardo DART and RIM-116

The Netherlands Ministry of Defence ( Ministerie van Defensie) is to buy a replace the Goalkeeper close-in weapon system (CIWS) currently fitted to Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) ships. That plans were being taken forward to acquire the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) guided weapon system and the Leonardo DART (Driven Ammunition Reduced Time of flight) 76 mm guided ammunition. In 2012 the Dutch ministry of defense announced that the Goalkeeper systems in use by the Netherlands Navy will receive radar upgrades and a new electro-optical tracking system. The upgrade has been named the Upkeep Modification. The costs associated with the upgrade rose 700,000 euro above the planned budget in 2015, and led to a loss for Thales Nederland in that year. The 16 Goalkeepers were recently subject to an upgrade to keep them relevant until at least 2025.

Goalkeeper close-in weapon system (CIWS)
Goalkeeper close-in weapon system (CIWS)

Goalkeeper is a Dutch close-in weapon system (CIWS) introduced in 1979. It is an autonomous and completely automatic weapon system for short-range defence of ships against highly manoeuvrable missiles, aircraft and fast-manoeuvering surface vessels. Once activated the system automatically undertakes the entire air defence process from surveillance and detection to destruction, including the selection of the next priority target. The GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm, also used by the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, was selected for the system. The 30x173mm cartridge has a greater projectile mass than the 20x102mm cartridge fired by the Phalanx CIWS M61 Vulcan, so it provides much greater destructive power with similar muzzle velocity but significantly increased range.

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DART 76mm guided ammunition
DART 76mm guided ammunition

Goalkeeper’s capabilities have been proven many times during sea-going trials. During live-fire exercises, many different targets including Harpoons, Exocets and target drones were shot down by Goalkeeper. During anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia the system destroyed several pirate boats and skiffs that had been seized by the Royal Netherlands Navy. Supersonic missiles that are damaged may still have enough momentum to hit the ship—the only way to ensure the protection of the ship is either to detonate the warhead of the missile or obliterate the missile. The system’s reaction time to a Mach 2 sea-skimming missile such as the Russian SS-N-22 Sunburn from automatic detection to kill is reported to be 5.5 seconds with the firing synchronized to start the engagement at a range of 1,500 m and ending with a kill at 300 m.

RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)
RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)

The DART is a 76mm guided ammunition designed by the Italian defence company Oto Melara (Leonardo Company). The DART projectile is similar in many aspects to other hyper-velocity systems, for example the Starstreak SAM missile’s multi-dart warhead, but is a guided gun projectile with radio controls and a proximity fuze for low level engagement. The system is very effective in the engagement of supersonic missiles and fast boats. The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) is a small, lightweight, infrared homing surface-to-air missile. The missile is so named because it rolls around its longitudinal axis to stabilize its flight path, much like a bullet fired from a rifled barrel. RAM-System GmbH (RAMSYS) and its US partner Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) are jointly responsible for development and production of the RAM ship self-defence weapon system.

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