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In military language, a missile, also known as a guided missile, is a guided self-propelled flying weapon usually propelled by a jet engine or rocket motor. This is in contrast to an unguided self-propelled flying munition, referred to as a rocket (although these too can also be guided). Missiles have four system components: targeting or missile guidance, flight system, engine, and warhead. Missiles come in types adapted for different purposes: surface-to-surface and air-to-surface missiles (ballistic, cruise, anti-ship, anti-tank, etc.), surface-to-air missiles (and anti-ballistic), air-to-air missiles, and anti-satellite weapons. Non-self-propelled airborne explosive devices are generally referred to as shells and usually have a shorter range than missiles. In ordinary language the word means an object which can be thrown, shot, or propelled toward a target.
A jet engine is a type of reaction engine discharging a fast-moving jet that generates thrust by jet propulsion. This broad definition includes airbreathing jet engines. In general, jet engines are combustion engines.
A rocket is a self-propelled, unguided weapon system powered by a rocket motor. Rockets are used primarily as medium and long-range artillery systems, although historically they have also seen considerable use as air-to-surface, some use as air-to-air weapons, and even a few examples of surface-to-air devices. Examples of modern surface-to-surface rocket systems include the BM-27 Uragan and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System.
The Direct Attack Guided Rocket (DAGR) is a weapons system under development by Lockheed Martin. The program goal is to provide a low cost 2.75 inch (70 mm) precision guided rocket which is compatible with existing Hellfire II systems and launchers in service. The system will use components from the existing Hydra 70 rocket, but differs from other upgrades to the Hydra 70 such as APKWS and LOGIR in that it is designed to be plug and play compatible with the Hellfire missile and use the M299 Hellfire launcher, increasing the load-out by up to four times. DAGR also offers a lock-on before launch capability that is not compatible with the electronics in existing Hydra 70 launchers.
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The first missiles to be used operationally were a series of missiles developed by Nazi Germany in World War II. Most famous of these are the V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket, both of which used a simple mechanical autopilot to keep the missile flying along a pre-chosen route. Less well known were a series of anti-shipping and anti-aircraft missiles, typically based on a simple radio control (command guidance) system directed by the operator. However, these early systems in World War II were only built in small numbers.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The V-1 flying bomb —also known to the Allies as the buzz bomb, or doodlebug, and in Germany as Kirschkern (cherrystone) or Maikäfer —was an early cruise missile and the only production aircraft to use a pulsejet for power.
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Guided missiles have a number of different system components:
A warhead is the explosive or toxic material that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo. It is a type of bomb.
The most common method of guidance is to use some form of radiation, such as infrared, lasers or radio waves, to guide the missile onto its target. This radiation may emanate from the target (such as the heat of an engine or the radio waves from an enemy radar), it may be provided by the missile itself (such as a radar), or it may be provided by a friendly third party (such as the radar of the launch vehicle/platform, or a laser designator operated by friendly infantry). The first two are often known as fire-and-forget as they need no further support or control from the launch vehicle/platform in order to function. Another method is to use a TV guidance, with a visible light or infrared picture produced in order to see the target. The picture may be used either by a human operator who steering the missile onto its target or by a computer doing much the same job. One of the more bizarre guidance methods instead used a pigeon to steer a missile to its target. Some missiles also have a home-on-jam capability to guide itself to a radar-emitting source. Many missiles use a combination of two or more of the methods to improve accuracy and the chances of a successful engagement.
In physics, radiation is the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through a material medium. This includes:
Infrared homing is a passive weapon guidance system which uses the infrared (IR) light emission from a target to track and follow it. Missiles which use infrared seeking are often referred to as "heat-seekers", since infrared is radiated strongly by hot bodies. Many objects such as people, vehicle engines and aircraft generate and emit heat, and as such, are especially visible in the infrared wavelengths of light compared to objects in the background.
Laser guidance directs a robotics system to a target position by means of a laser beam. The laser guidance of a robot is accomplished by projecting a laser light, image processing and communication to improve the accuracy of guidance. The key idea is to show goal positions to the robot by laser light projection instead of communicating them numerically. This intuitive interface simplifies directing the robot while the visual feedback improves the positioning accuracy and allows for implicit localization. The guidance system may serve also as a mediator for cooperative multiple robots. Examples of proof-of-concept experiments of directing a robot by a laser pointer are shown on video. Laser guidance spans areas of robotics, computer vision, user interface, video games, communication and smart home technologies.
Another method is to target the missile by knowing the location of the target and using a guidance system such as INS, TERCOM or satellite guidance. This guidance system guides the missile by knowing the missile's current position and the position of the target, and then calculating a course between them. This job can also be performed somewhat crudely by a human operator who can see the target and the missile and guide it using either cable- or radio-based remote control, or by an automatic system that can simultaneously track the target and the missile. Furthermore, some missiles use initial targeting, sending them to a target area, where they will switch to primary targeting, using either radar or IR targeting to acquire the target.
An inertial navigation system (INS) is a navigation device that uses a computer, motion sensors (accelerometers) and rotation sensors (gyroscopes) to continuously calculate by dead reckoning the position, the orientation, and the velocity of a moving object without the need for external references. Often the inertial sensors are supplemented by a barometric altimeter and occasionally by magnetic sensors (magnetometers) and/or speed measuring devices. INSs are used on vehicles such as ships, aircraft, submarines, guided missiles, and spacecraft. Other terms used to refer to inertial navigation systems or closely related devices include inertial guidance system, inertial instrument, inertial measurement unit (IMU) and many other variations. Older INS systems generally used an inertial platform as their mounting point to the vehicle and the terms are sometimes considered synonymous.
Terrain Contour Matching, or TERCOM, is a navigation system used primarily by cruise missiles. It uses a pre-recorded contour map of the terrain that is compared with measurements made during flight by an on-board radar altimeter. A TERCOM system considerably increases the accuracy of a missile compared with inertial navigation systems (INS). The increased accuracy allows a TERCOM-equipped missile to fly closer to obstacles and generally lower altitudes, making it harder to detect by ground radar.
Whether a guided missile uses a targeting system, a guidance system or both, it needs a flight system. The flight system uses the data from the targeting or guidance system to maneuver the missile in flight, allowing it to counter inaccuracies in the missile or to follow a moving target. There are two main systems: vectored thrust (for missiles that are powered throughout the guidance phase of their flight) and aerodynamic maneuvering (wings, fins, canard (aeronautics), etc.).
A canard is an aeronautical arrangement wherein a small forewing or foreplane is placed forward of the main wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The term "canard" may be used to describe the aircraft itself, the wing configuration or the foreplane.
Missiles are powered by an engine, generally either a type of rocket engine or jet engine. Rockets are generally of the solid propellant type for ease of maintenance and fast deployment, although some larger ballistic missiles use liquid-propellant rockets. Jet engines are generally used in cruise missiles, most commonly of the turbojet type, due to its relative simplicity and low frontal area. Turbofans and ramjets are the only other common forms of jet engine propulsion, although any type of engine could theoretically be used. Long-range missiles may have multiple engine stages, particularly in those launched from the surface. These stages may all be of similar types or may include a mix of engine types − for example, surface-launched cruise missiles often have a rocket booster for launching and a jet engine for sustained flight.
Some missiles may have additional propulsion from another source at launch; for example, the V1 was launched by a catapult, and the MGM-51 Shillelagh was fired out of a tank gun (using a smaller charge than would be used for a shell).
Missiles generally have one or more explosive warheads, although other weapon types may also be used. The warheads of a missile provide its primary destructive power (many missiles have extensive secondary destructive power due to the high kinetic energy of the weapon and unburnt fuel that may be on board). Warheads are most commonly of the high explosive type, often employing shaped charges to exploit the accuracy of a guided weapon to destroy hardened targets. Other warhead types include submunitions, incendiaries, nuclear weapons, chemical, biological or radiological weapons or kinetic energy penetrators. Warheadless missiles are often used for testing and training purposes.
Missiles are generally categorized by their launch platform and intended target. In broadest terms, these will either be surface (ground or water) or air, and then sub-categorized by range and the exact target type (such as anti-tank or anti-ship). Many weapons are designed to be launched from both surface or the air, and a few are designed to attack either surface or air targets (such as the ADATS missile). Most weapons require some modification in order to be launched from the air or surface, such as adding boosters to the surface-launched version.
After the boost stage, ballistic missiles follow a trajectory mainly determined by ballistics. The guidance is for relatively small deviations from that.
Ballistic missiles are largely used for land attack missions. Although normally associated with nuclear weapons, some conventionally armed ballistic missiles are in service, such as MGM-140 ATACMS. The V2 had demonstrated that a ballistic missile could deliver a warhead to a target city with no possibility of interception, and the introduction of nuclear weapons meant it could efficiently do damage when it arrived. The accuracy of these systems was fairly poor, but post-war development by most military forces improved the basic Inertial navigation system concept to the point where it could be used as the guidance system on Intercontinental ballistic missiles flying thousands of kilometers. Today, the ballistic missile represents the only strategic deterrent in most military forces; however, some ballistic missiles are being adapted for conventional roles, such as the Russian Iskander or the Chinese DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. Ballistic missiles are primarily surface-launched from mobile launchers, silos, ships or submarines, with air launch being theoretically possible with a weapon such as the cancelled Skybolt missile.
The Russian Topol M (SS-27 Sickle B) is the fastest (7,320 m/s) missile currently in service.
The V1 had been successfully intercepted during World War II, but this did not make the cruise missile concept entirely useless. After the war, the US deployed a small number of nuclear-armed cruise missiles in Germany, but these were considered to be of limited usefulness. Continued research into much longer-ranged and faster versions led to the US's SM-64 Navaho and its Soviet counterparts, the Burya and Buran cruise missile. However, these were rendered largely obsolete by the ICBM, and none were used operationally. Shorter-range developments have become widely used as highly accurate attack systems, such as the US Tomahawk missile and Russian Kh-55 . Cruise missiles are generally further divided into subsonic or supersonic weapons - supersonic weapons such as BrahMos (India) are difficult to shoot down, whereas subsonic weapons tend to be much lighter and cheaper allowing more to be fired.
Cruise missiles are generally associated with land-attack operations, but also have an important role as anti-shipping weapons. They are primarily launched from air, sea or submarine platforms in both roles, although land-based launchers also exist.
Another major German missile development project was the anti-shipping class (such as the Fritz X and Henschel Hs 293), intended to stop any attempt at a cross-channel invasion. However, the British were able to render their systems useless by jamming their radios, and missiles with wire guidance were not ready by D-Day. After the war, the anti-shipping class slowly developed and became a major class in the 1960s with the introduction of the low-flying jet- or rocket-powered cruise missiles known as "sea-skimmers". These became famous during the Falklands War, when an Argentine Exocet missile sank a Royal Navy destroyer.
A number of anti-submarine missiles also exist; these generally use the missile in order to deliver another weapon system such as a torpedo or depth charge to the location of the submarine, at which point the other weapon will conduct the underwater phase of the mission.
By the end of WWII, all forces had widely introduced unguided rockets using High-explosive anti-tank warheads as their major anti-tank weapon (see Panzerfaust, Bazooka). However, these had a limited useful range of 100 m or so, and the Germans were looking to extend this with the use of a missile using wire guidance, the X-7. After the war, this became a major design class in the later 1950s and, by the 1960s, had developed into practically the only non-tank anti-tank system in general use. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt, the 9M14 Malyutka (aka "Sagger") man-portable anti-tank missile proved potent against Israeli tanks. While other guidance systems have been tried, the basic reliability of wire guidance means this will remain the primary means of controlling anti-tank missiles in the near future. Anti-tank missiles may be launched from aircraft, vehicles or by ground troops in the case of smaller weapons.
By 1944, US and British air forces were sending huge air fleets over occupied Europe, increasing the pressure on the Luftwaffe day and night fighter forces. The Germans were keen to get some sort of useful ground-based anti-aircraft system into operation. Several systems were under development, but none had reached operational status before the war's end. The US Navy also started missile research to deal with the Kamikaze threat. By 1950, systems based on this early research started to reach operational service, including the US Army's MIM-3 Nike Ajax and the Navy's "3T's" (Talos, Terrier, Tartar), soon followed by the Soviet S-25 Berkut and S-75 Dvina and French and British systems. Anti-aircraft weapons exist for virtually every possible launch platform, with surface-launched systems ranging from huge, self-propelled or ship-mounted launchers to man-portable systems. Subsurface-to-air missiles are usually launched from below water (usually from submarines).
Like most missiles, the S-300, S-400 (missile), Advanced Air Defence and MIM-104 Patriot are for defense against short-range missiles and carry explosive warheads.
In the case of a large closing speed, a projectile without explosives is used; just a collision is sufficient to destroy the target. See Missile Defense Agency for the following systems being developed:
Soviet RS-82 rockets were successfully tested in combat at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939.
German experience in World War II demonstrated that destroying a large aircraft was quite difficult, and they had invested considerable effort into air-to-air missile systems to do this. Their Messerschmitt Me 262's jets often carried R4M rockets, and other types of "bomber destroyer" aircraft had unguided rockets as well. In the post-war period, the R4M served as the pattern for a number of similar systems, used by almost all interceptor aircraft during the 1940s and 1950s. Most rockets (except for the AIR-2 Genie, due to its nuclear warhead with a large blast radius) had to be carefully aimed at relatively close range to hit the target successfully. The United States Navy and U.S. Air Force began deploying guided missiles in the early 1950s, most famous being the US Navy's AIM-9 Sidewinder and the USAF's AIM-4 Falcon. These systems have continued to advance, and modern air warfare consists almost entirely of missile firing. In the Falklands War, less powerful British Harriers were able to defeat faster Argentinian opponents using AIM-9L missiles provided by the United States as the conflict began. The latest heat-seeking designs can lock onto a target from various angles, not just from behind, where the heat signature from the engines is strongest. Other types rely on radar guidance (either on board or "painted" by the launching aircraft). Air-to-air missiles also have a wide range of sizes, ranging from helicopter-launched self-defense weapons with a range of a few kilometers, to long-range weapons designed for interceptor aircraft such as the R-37 (missile).
In the 1950s and 1960s, Soviet designers started work on an anti-satellite weapon, called the Istrebitel Sputnik, which literally means "interceptor of satellites" or "destroyer of satellites". After a lengthy development process of roughly twenty years, it was finally decided that testing of the Istrebitel Sputnik be canceled. This was when the United States started testing their own systems. The Brilliant Pebbles defense system proposed during the 1980s would have used kinetic energy collisions without explosives. Anti-satellite weapons may be launched either by an aircraft or a surface platform, depending on the design. To date, only a few known tests have occurred. As of 2019, only 4 countries - United States, India , Russia and China have operational anti-satellite weapons.
A cruise missile is a guided missile used against terrestrial 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 supersonic or high subsonic speeds, are self-navigating, and are able to fly on a non-ballistic, extremely low-altitude trajectory.
A rocket-propelled grenade is a shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon system that fires rockets equipped with an explosive warhead. Most RPGs can be carried by an individual soldier. These warheads are affixed to a rocket motor which propels the RPG towards the target and they are stabilized in flight with fins. Some types of RPG are reloadable with new rocket-propelled grenades, while others are single-use. RPGs, with some exceptions, are generally loaded from the muzzle.
An anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), anti-tank missile, anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) or anti-armor guided weapon is a guided missile primarily designed to hit and destroy heavily armored military vehicles.
A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are only guided during relatively brief periods of flight—most of their trajectory is unpowered, being governed by gravity and air resistance if in the atmosphere. Shorter range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth's atmosphere, while longer-ranged intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), are launched on a sub-orbital flight trajectory and spend most of their flight out of the atmosphere.
A projectile is any object thrown into space by the exertion of a force. Although any object in motion through space may be called a projectile, the term more commonly refers to a ranged weapon. Mathematical equations of motion are used to analyze projectile trajectory. An object projected at an angle to the horizontal has both the vertical and horizontal components of velocity. The vertical component of the velocity on the y-axis given as Vy=USin(teta) while the horizontal component of the velocity Vx=UCos(teta). There are various terms used in projectiles at specific angle teta 1. Time to reach maximum height. It is symbolized as (t), which is the time taken for the projectile to reach the maximum height from the plane of projection. Mathematically, it is give as t=USin(teta)/g Where g=acceleration due to gravity(app 10m/s²) U= initial velocity (m/s) teta= angle made by the projectile with the horizontal axis.
An air-to-air missile (AAM) is a missile fired from an aircraft for the purpose of destroying another aircraft. AAMs are typically powered by one or more rocket motors, usually solid fueled but sometimes liquid fueled. Ramjet engines, as used on the Meteor (missile) are emerging as propulsion that will enable future medium-range missiles to maintain higher average speed across their engagement envelope.
Aerial warfare is the battlespace use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare. Aerial warfare includes bombers attacking enemy installations or a concentration of enemy troops or strategic targets; fighter aircraft battling for control of airspace; attack aircraft engaging in close air support against ground targets; naval aviation flying against sea and nearby land targets; gliders, helicopters and other aircraft to carry airborne forces such as paratroopers; aerial refueling tankers to extend operation time or range; and military transport aircraft to move cargo and personnel. Historically, military aircraft have included lighter-than-air balloons carrying artillery observers; lighter-than-air airships for bombing cities; various sorts of reconnaissance, surveillance and early warning aircraft carrying observers, cameras and radar equipment; torpedo bombers to attack enemy shipping; and military air-sea rescue aircraft for saving downed airmen. Modern aerial warfare includes missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Surface forces are likely to respond to enemy air activity with anti-aircraft warfare.
A shoulder-fired missile, shoulder-launched missile or man-portable missile is an explosive-carrying, self-propelled projectile fired at a target, while being small enough to be carried by a single person and fired while held on one's shoulder. The word "missile" in this context is used in its original broad sense which encompasses all guided missiles and unguided rockets. In many instances, although not technically defining all shoulder-fired missiles, the name bazooka is used as an informal name regularly, although the actual Bazooka is a type of shoulder-fired unguided rocket launcher in its own right.
The CRV7, short for "Canadian Rocket Vehicle 7", is a 2.75-inch (70 mm) folding-fin ground attack rocket produced by Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was introduced in the early 1970s as an upgraded version of the standard U.S. 2.75-inch air-to-ground rockets. It was the most powerful weapon of its class, the first with enough energy to penetrate standard Warsaw Pact aircraft hangars. The CRV7 remains one of the most powerful air-to-ground attack rockets to this day, and has slowly become the de facto standard for Western-aligned forces outside the United States.
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.
A tactical ballistic missile (TBM) is a ballistic missile designed for short-range battlefield use. Typically, range is less than 300 kilometres (190 mi). Tactical ballistic missiles are usually mobile to ensure survivability and quick deployment, as well as carrying a variety of warheads to target enemy facilities, assembly areas, artillery, and other targets behind the front lines. Warheads can include conventional high explosive, chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads. Typically tactical nuclear weapons are limited in their total yield compared to strategic rockets.
Wunderwaffe is German for "Miracle Weapon" and was a term assigned during World War II by the Nazi Germany propaganda ministry to some revolutionary "superweapons". Most of these weapons however remained prototypes, which either never reached the combat theater, or if they did, were too late or in too insignificant numbers to have a military effect.
Nuclear weapons delivery is the technology and systems used to place a nuclear weapon at the position of detonation, on or near its target. Several methods have been developed to carry out this task.
Popeye is the name of a family of air-to-surface missiles developed and in use by Israel, of which several types have been developed for Israeli and export users. A long-range submarine-launched cruise missile variant of the Popeye Turbo has been speculated as being employed in Israel's submarine-based nuclear forces. The United States operates the Popeye under a different designation according to US naming conventions as the AGM-142 Have Nap.
The Nimrod is a long-range air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. While primarily designed for anti-tank use, it provides standoff strike capability against a variety of point targets such as APCs, ships, bunkers, personnel concentrations and guerrillas.
The Delilah missile is a cruise missile or loitering munition developed in Israel by Israel Military Industries (IMI). It is designed to target moving and re-locatable targets with a circular error probable (CEP) of 1 metre. Unlike a typical cruise missile, which is locked onto a pre-programmed target prior to launch, the Delilah missile's unique feature, as claimed by the manufacturer, is being able to loiter and surveil an area before a remote weapon systems officer, usually from the launching fighter aircraft, identifies the specific target of the attack.
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.
Man-portable anti-tank systems are shoulder-launched anti-tank rockets. They are typically unguided weapons and are a threat to armored vehicles, low-flying aircraft, and field fortifications. Generally, MANPATS fall into three distinct categories. The first consist of a small, disposable preloaded launch tube firing a high explosive anti-tank warhead operated by a single soldier. The second is a firing system onto/into which a rocket is loaded, operated by a single soldier. The third are manufactured prepacked and issued as a single unit of ammunition with the launcher discarded after a single use.
Ogbunigwe also called Ojukwu Bucket was a series of weapons systems including command detonation mines, improvised explosive devices and rocket propelled missiles, mass-produced by the Republic of Biafra and used against Nigeria between 1967 and 1970 in the Biafran War.
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