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 For example, there was an air-launched version of the Tomahawk missile, superseded by the AGM-86 ALCM.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

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Silkworm (missile) Series of Chinese anti-ship missiles

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Kh-55 Family of air-launched cruise missiles

The Kh-55 is a Soviet/Russian subsonic air-launched cruise missile, designed by MKB Raduga. 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.

Active radar homing

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A surface-to-surface missile (SSM) or ground-to-ground missile (GGM) is a missile designed to be launched from the ground or the sea and strike targets on land or at sea. They may be fired from hand-held or vehicle mounted devices, from fixed installations, or from a ship. They are often powered by a rocket engine or sometimes fired by an explosive charge, since the launching platform is typically stationary or moving slowly. They usually have fins and/or wings for lift and stability, although hyper-velocity or short-ranged missiles may use body lift or fly a ballistic trajectory. The V-1 flying bomb was the first operational surface-to-surface missile.

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Kh-59 Cruise missileAir-launched cruise missileAir-to-surface missileAnti-ship missileLand-attack missile

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AGM-158C LRASM stealthy Anti-ship missile stealthy Cruise missilestealthy Air-launched cruise missile

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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.

ASM-3 Anti-ship missile

The ASM-3 is an supersonic anti-ship missile being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to replace the ASM-1 and ASM-2 missiles. The major launch platform is the Mitsubishi F-2. Planned Initial Operational Capability was 2016. The missile will be used by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

References

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