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In modern language, a missile, also known as a guided missile, is a guided airborne ranged weapon capable of self-propelled flight usually by a jet engine or rocket motor. Missiles have four 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 (ballistic, cruise, anti-ship, anti-tank, etc.), surface-to-air missiles (and anti-ballistic), air-to-air missiles, and anti-satellite weapons.
Airborne explosive devices without propulsion are referred to as shells if fired by an artillery piece and bombs if dropped by an aircraft. Unguided jet-propelled missiles are usually described as rocket artillery.
In ordinary language, the word missile can refer to any projectile that is thrown, shot or propelled toward a target.
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 mechanical autopilot to keep the missile flying along a pre-chosen route. II were only built in small numbers.Less well known were a series of Anti-Ship 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
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Guided missiles have a number of different system components:
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.
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.
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.).
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,Russia) 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:
For the first time used by Soviet pilots in the summer of 1939 during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.On August 20, 1939, the Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 fighter was attacked by the Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighter of the Captain N. Zvonarev, he fired a rocket salvo, from a distance of about a kilometer, after which the Ki-27 crashed to the ground. A group of Polikarpov I-16 fighters under command of Captain N. Zvonarev were using RS-82 rockets against Japanese aircraft, shooting down 16 fighters and 3 bombers in total.
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 ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief periods—most of the flight is unpowered. Short-range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth's atmosphere, while intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are launched on a sub-orbital trajectory.
A projectile is any object thrown by the exertion of a force. It can also be defined as an object launched into the space and allowed to move free under the influence of gravity and air resistance.Although any object in motion through space may be called projectiles, they are commonly found in warfare and sports. Mathematical equations of motion are used to analyze projectile trajectories.
The Shang You or SY-series, and the Hai Ying or HY-series were early Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles. They were derived from the Soviet P-15 Termit missile.
The Ruhrstahl Ru 344 X-4 or Ruhrstahl-Kramer RK 344 was a wire guided air-to-air missile designed by Germany during World War II. The X-4 did not see operational service and thus was not proven in combat but inspired considerable post-war work around the world, and was the basis for the development of several ground-launched anti-tank missiles, including the Malkara.
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.
Missile guidance refers to a variety of methods of guiding a missile or a guided bomb to its intended target. The missile's target accuracy is a critical factor for its effectiveness. Guidance systems improve missile accuracy by improving its Probability of Guidance (Pg).
The BAe Sea Eagle is a medium weight sea-skimming anti-ship missile designed and built by BAe Dynamics. It is designed to sink or disable ships up to the size of aircraft carriers in the face of jamming and other countermeasures including decoys. Its users include the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, the Royal Saudi Air Force, and the Indian Navy.
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.
Wunderwaffe is German for "Wonder 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 Aerospace Force of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution is the strategic missile and air force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The Weishi family of multiple rocket launcher systems were mainly developed by Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation in Chengdu, China. The systems include the 302 mm WS-1, the improved 302 mm WS-1B, the 122 mm WS-1E (40 km), the 400 mm WS-2, as well as many other models. The WS-1 series weapon system did not enter PLA service and has order from Thailand. The WS-2 may finally see PLA service in the future. It's worth noticing that although sharing the same name, there are other developers for different models of Weishi series multiple rocket launchers (MRL) other than the primary developer SCAIC.
The Dong-Feng 21 is a two-stage, solid-fuel rocket, single-warhead medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) in the Dong Feng series developed by China Changfeng Mechanics and Electronics Technology Academy. Development started in the late 1960s and was completed around 1985–86, but it was not deployed until 1991. It was developed from the submarine-launched JL-1 missile, and is China's first solid-fuel land-based missile. The U.S. Department of Defense in 2008 estimated that China had 60-80 missiles and 60 launchers; approximately 10-11 missiles can be built annually.
The Nimrod is a long-range air-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. 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.
The use of rockets in India, for warfare, dates back to the 18th century. Mysorean rockets were the first iron-cased rockets that were successfully deployed for military use, reverse-engineered by British and introduced in the Europe as Congreve rocket. After British colonisation of India, scientific R&D in Indian dynasties was restricted and military science in India lagged.
The Raduga KS-1 Komet, also referred to as AS-1 and KS-1 was a short range air-to-surface missile developed by the Soviet Union. It was carried on only two aircraft: the Tupolev Tu-4 and the Tupolev Tu-16.
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