Air-to-surface missile

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A pilot inspects an AGM-65 Maverick missile on his A-10 Thunderbolt II. AGM-65 Maverick2.jpg
A pilot inspects an AGM-65 Maverick missile on his A-10 Thunderbolt II.
The RAF's Brimstone missile is a fire and forget anti-tank missile. Missile MBDA Brimstone.jpg
The RAF's Brimstone missile is a fire and forget anti-tank missile.
A Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile of the German Luftwaffe. Taurus ILA2006.JPG
A Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile of the German Luftwaffe.

An air-to-surface missile (ASM) or air-to-ground missile (AGM) is a missile designed to be launched from military aircraft at targets on land or sea. There are also unpowered guided glide bombs not considered missiles. The two most common propulsion systems for air-to-surface missiles are rocket motors, usually with shorter range, and slower, longer-range jet engines. Some Soviet-designed air-to-surface missiles are powered by ramjets, giving them both long range and high speed.

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Guidance for air-to-surface missiles is typically via laser guidance, infrared guidance, optical guidance or via satellite guidance signals. The type of guidance depends on the type of target. Ships, for example, may be detected via passive radar or active radar homing, less effective against multiple, small, fast-moving land targets.

There is some cross-over between air-to-surface missiles and surface-to-surface missiles. For example, there was an air-launched version of the Tomahawk missile, superseded by the AGM-86 ALCM. Other missiles used in both roles include the Penguin and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Many air-to-surface missiles can be used against both ships and land targets, although some must be modified to perform a different role; for example, the AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile is a land-attack version of the Harpoon.

A major advantage of air-to-surface missiles for ground attack by aircraft is the standoff distance they provide: missiles can be launched from a distance without coming within range of the target's air defences. Most air-to-surface missiles are fire-and-forget from a standoff distance, allowing the attacker to withdraw without approaching further after launch. Some missiles (typically cruise missiles or anti-ship missiles) have long enough range to be launched over the horizon, finding the target autonomously.

Sub-categories of air-to-surface missiles include:

Typically, the higher and faster the launching aircraft is flying, the longer the reach of a particular missile is. For long-range missiles this difference can be relatively small, but short-range missiles (like the AGM-65 Maverick) have a much longer range when launched at altitude.

There have been examples of air-launched ballistic missiles (Air Launched ICBM, GAM-87 Skybolt), but they are rare. Sometimes air-to-surface missiles are divided into the categories of tactical and strategic. Typically missiles with chemical explosive or small nuclear warheads are classed as tactical, and large nuclear warheads as strategic.

List of air-to-surface missiles

Argentina

Brazil

China

France

Germany

Greece

India

Israel

Iran

Norway

Pakistan

South Africa

Sweden

Turkey

UK

United States

USSR/Russian Federation

See also

Related Research Articles

Cruise missile Guided missile with precision targeting capabilities and multiple launch platforms

A cruise missile is a guided missile used against terrestrial or naval targets that remains in the atmosphere and flies the major portion of its flight path at approximately constant speed. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high precision. Modern cruise missiles are capable of travelling at high subsonic, supersonic, or hypersonic speeds, are self-navigating, and are able to fly on a non-ballistic, extremely low-altitude trajectory.

Missile Self-propelled guided weapon system

In military terminology, a missile is a guided airborne ranged weapon capable of self-propelled flight usually by a jet engine or rocket motor. Missiles are thus also called guided missiles or guided rockets. Missiles have five system components: targeting, guidance system, flight system, engine and warhead. Missiles come in types adapted for different purposes: surface-to-surface and air-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air missiles, and anti-satellite weapons.

AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon Type of glide bomb

The AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) is a glide bomb that resulted from a joint venture between the United States Navy and Air Force to deploy a standardized medium range precision guided weapon, especially for engagement of defended targets from outside the range of standard anti-aircraft defenses, thereby increasing aircraft survivability and minimizing friendly losses. The designation of the Joint Standoff Weapon as an "air-to-ground missile" is a misnomer, as it is an unpowered bomb with guidance avionics, similar to the older GBU-15.

Kh-55 Family of air-launched cruise missiles

The Kh-55 is a Soviet/Russian subsonic air-launched cruise missile, designed by MKB Raduga in the 1970s. It has a range of up to 2,500 km (1,350 nmi) and can carry nuclear warheads. Kh-55 is launched exclusively from bomber aircraft and has spawned a number of conventionally armed variants mainly for tactical use, such as the Kh-65SE and Kh-SD, but only the Kh-101 and Kh-555 appear to have made it into service. Contrary to popular belief, the Kh-55 was not the basis of the submarine- and ground-launched S-10 Granat or RK-55 Relief designed by NPO Novator. The RK-55 is very similar to the air-launched Kh-55 but the Kh-55 has a drop-down turbofan engine and was designed by MKB Raduga. Both have formed the basis of post-Cold-War missiles, in particular the Sizzler which has a supersonic approach phase.

Fire-and-forget Type of missile guidance

Fire-and-forget is a type of missile guidance which does not require further external intervention after launch such as illumination of the target or wire guidance, and can hit its target without the launcher being in line-of-sight of the target. This is an important property for a guided weapon to have, since a person or vehicle that lingers near the target to guide the missile is vulnerable to attack and unable to carry out other tasks.

Active radar homing Missile guidance technique

Active radar homing (ARH) is a missile guidance method in which a missile contains a radar transceiver and the electronics necessary for it to find and track its target autonomously. The NATO brevity code for an air-to-air active radar homing missile launch is fox three.

AGM-86 ALCM Air-to-ground strategic cruise missile

The AGM-86 ALCM is an American subsonic air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) built by Boeing and operated by the United States Air Force. This missile was developed to increase the effectiveness and survivability of the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber. The missile dilutes an enemy's forces and complicates air defense of its territory.

AGM-158 JASSM Low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile

The AGM-158 JASSM is a low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile developed by Lockheed Martin for the United States Armed Forces. It is a large, stealthy long-range weapon with a 450-kilogram (1,000 lb) armor piercing warhead. It completed testing and entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 2009, and has entered foreign service in Australia, Finland, and Poland as of 2014. An extended range version of the missile, the AGM-158B JASSM-ER, entered service in 2014. By September 2016, Lockheed Martin had delivered 2,000 total JASSMs comprising both variants to the USAF.

Kh-31 Medium-range air-to-surface missile

The Kh-31 is a Russian air-to-surface missile carried by aircraft such as the MiG-29 or Su-27. It is capable of Mach 3.5 and was the first supersonic anti-ship missile that could be launched by tactical aircraft.

Kh-59 Russian cruise missile

The Kh-59 Ovod is a Russian TV-guided cruise missile with a two-stage solid-fuel propulsion system and 200 km range. The Kh-59M Ovod-M is a variant with a bigger warhead and turbojet engine. It is primarily a land-attack missile but the Kh-59MK variant targets ships.

Standoff weapons are missiles or bombs which may be launched from a distance sufficient to allow attacking personnel to evade the effect of the weapon or defensive fire from the target area. Typically, they are used against land- and sea-based targets in an offensive operation. The name is derived from their ability to engage the target while standing off outside the range at which the defenders are likely to engage the attacker. Typical stand-off weapons include cruise missiles, glide bombs and short-range ballistic missiles.

Precision-guided munition "Smart bombs", used to strike targets precisely

A precision-guided munition is a guided munition intended to precisely hit a specific target, to minimize collateral damage and increase lethality against intended targets. During the First Gulf War guided munitions accounted for only 9% of weapons fired, but accounted for 75% of all successful hits. Despite guided weapons generally being used on more difficult targets, they were still 35 times more likely to destroy their targets per weapon dropped.

YJ-83 Chinese anti-ship cruise missile

The YJ-83 is a Chinese subsonic anti-ship cruise missile. It is manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Third Academy.

CJ-10 (missile) Land-attack missile

The CJ-10 is a second-generation Chinese ground-based land-attack missile. It is derived from the Kh-55 missile. It is reportedly manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Third Academy and the China Haiying Electro-Mechanical Technology Academy.

AGM-158C LRASM Stealthy anti-ship cruise missile

The AGM-158C LRASM is a stealthy anti-ship cruise missile developed for the United States Air Force and United States Navy by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The LRASM was intended to pioneer more sophisticated autonomous targeting capabilities than the U.S. Navy's current Harpoon anti-ship missile, which has been in service since 1977.

Air-launched cruise missile

An air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) is a cruise missile that is launched from a military aircraft. Current versions are typically standoff weapons which are used to attack predetermined land targets with conventional, nuclear or thermonuclear payloads.

Kh-38 Tactical air-to-surface missile

The Kh-38/Kh-38M is a family of air-to-surface missiles meant to succeed the Kh-25 family of missiles.

Baykar Bayraktar Kızılelma Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicle

The Baykar Bayraktar Kızılelma, is an under-development aircraft, claimed to be jet-powered, single-engine, low-observable, supersonic, carrier-capable unmanned fighter aircraft, currently in development by Turkish defence company Baykar. The aircraft is being developed as part of Project MIUS.

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