Cruise missile

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.

Taurus ILA2006
Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile of the Luftwaffe


Fieseler Fi-103
A Fieseler Fi-103, the German V-1 flying bomb

The idea of an "aerial torpedo" was shown in the British 1909 film The Airship Destroyer, where flying torpedoes controlled wirelessly are used to bring down airships bombing London.[1]

In 1916, Lawrence Sperry built and patented an "aerial torpedo", the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, a small biplane carrying a TNT charge, a Sperry autopilot and a barometric altitude control. Inspired by these experiments, the United States Army developed a similar flying bomb called the Kettering Bug. Germany had also flown trials with remote-controlled aerial gliders (Torpedogleiter) built by Siemens-Schuckert beginning in 1916.[2]

In the period between the World Wars the United Kingdom developed the Larynx (Long Range Gun with Lynx Engine), which underwent a few flight tests in the 1920s.[3]

In the Soviet Union, Sergei Korolev headed the GIRD-06 cruise missile project from 1932 to 1939, which used a rocket-powered boost-glide bomb design. The 06/III (RP-216) and 06/IV (RP-212) contained gyroscopic guidance systems.[4] The vehicle was designed to boost to 28 km altitude and glide a distance of 280 km, but test flights in 1934 and 1936 only reached an altitude of 500 meters.

In 1944, Germany deployed the first operational cruise missiles in World War II. The V-1, often called a flying bomb, contained a gyroscope guidance system and was propelled by a simple pulsejet engine, the sound of which gave it the nickname of "buzz bomb" or "doodlebug". Accuracy was sufficient only for use against very large targets (the general area of a city), while the range of 250 km was significantly lower than that of a bomber carrying the same payload. The main advantages were speed (while not sufficient to outperform contemporary interceptors) and expendability. The production cost of a V-1 was only a small fraction of that of a V-2 supersonic ballistic missile, carrying a similar-sized warhead.[5] Unlike the V-2, however, the initial deployments of the V-1 required stationary launch ramps which were susceptible to bombardment. Nazi Germany, in 1943, also developed the Mistel composite aircraft program, which can be seen as a rudimentary air-launched cruise missile, where a piloted fighter-type aircraft was mounted atop an unpiloted bomber-sized aircraft that was packed with explosives to be released while approaching the target. Bomber-launched variants of the V-1 saw limited operational service near the end of the war, with the pioneering V-1's design reverse-engineered by the Americans as the Republic-Ford JB-2 cruise missile.

Immediately after the war the United States Air Force had 21 different guided missile projects, including would-be cruise missiles. All but four were cancelled by 1948, — the Air Materiel Command BANSHEE, the SM-62 Snark, the SM-64 Navaho, and the MGM-1 Matador. The BANSHEE design was similar to Operation Aphrodite; like Aphrodite, it failed, and was cancelled in April 1949.[6] Concurrently, the US Navy's Operation: BUMBLEBEE, was conducted at Topsail Island, North Carolina, from c. June 1, 1946, to July 28, 1948.[7] Operation: BUMBLEBEE produced proof-of-concept technologies that influenced the US military's other missile projects.

During the Cold War period both the United States and the Soviet Union experimented further with the concept, deploying early cruise missiles from land, submarines and aircraft. The main outcome of the United States Navy submarine missile project was the SSM-N-8 Regulus missile, based upon the V-1.

The United States Air Force's first operational surface-to-surface missile was the winged, mobile, nuclear-capable MGM-1 Matador, also similar in concept to the V-1. Deployment overseas began in 1954, first to West Germany and later to the Republic of China (Taiwan) and South Korea. On 7 November 1956, U.S. Air Force deployed Matador units in West Germany, whose missiles were capable of striking targets in the Warsaw Pact, from their fixed day-to-day sites to unannounced dispersed launch locations. This alert was in response to the crisis posed by the Soviet attack on Hungary which suppressed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Between 1957 and 1961 the United States followed an ambitious and well-funded program to develop a nuclear-powered cruise missile, Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (SLAM). It was designed to fly below the enemy's radar at speeds above Mach 3 and carry a number of hydrogen bombs that it would drop along its path over enemy territory. Although the concept was proven sound and the 500 megawatt engine finished a successful test run in 1961, no airworthy device was ever completed. The project was finally abandoned in favor of ICBM development.

While ballistic missiles were the preferred weapons for land targets, heavy nuclear and conventional weapon tipped cruise missiles were seen by the USSR as a primary weapon to destroy United States naval carrier battle groups. Large submarines (for example, Echo and Oscar classes) were developed to carry these weapons and shadow United States battle groups at sea, and large bombers (for example, Backfire, Bear, and Blackjack models) were equipped with the weapons in their air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) configuration.

General design

Cruise missiles generally consist of a guidance system, payload, and aircraft propulsion system, housed in an airframe with small wings and empennage for flight control. Payloads usually consist of a conventional warhead or a nuclear warhead. Cruise missiles tend to be propelled by a jet engine, turbofan engines being preferred due to their greater efficiency at low altitude and subsonic speed.

Guidance systems

Guidance systems also vary greatly. Low-cost systems use a radar altimeter, barometric altimeter and clock to navigate a digital strip map. More advanced systems use inertial guidance, satellite guidance and terrain contour matching (TERCOM). Use of an automatic target recognition (ATR) algorithm/device in the guidance system increases accuracy of the missile. The Standoff Land Attack Missile features an ATR unit from General Electric.


Cruise missiles can be categorized by size, speed (subsonic or supersonic), and range, and whether launched from land, air, surface ship, or submarine. Often versions of the same missile are produced for different launch platforms; sometimes air- and submarine-launched versions are a little lighter and smaller than land- and ship-launched versions.

Guidance systems can vary across missiles. Some missiles can be fitted with any of a variety of navigation systems (Inertial navigation, TERCOM, or satellite navigation). Larger cruise missiles can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead, while smaller ones carry only conventional warheads.


A hypersonic speed cruise missile would travel at least five times the speed of sound (Mach 5).


Brahmos imds
BrahMos shown at IMDS 2007.

These missiles travel faster than the speed of sound, usually using ramjet engines. The range is typically 100–500 km, but can be greater. Guidance systems vary.


Intercontinental-range supersonic

Long-range subsonic

The United States, Russia, India, United Kingdom, Israel, South Korea, Turkey, Iran, China and Pakistan have developed several long-range subsonic cruise missiles. These missiles have a range of over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) and fly at about 800 kilometres per hour (500 mph).[18] They typically have a launch weight of about 1,500 kilograms (3,300 lb)[19] and can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead. Earlier versions of these missiles used inertial navigation; later versions use much more accurate TERCOM and DSMAC systems. Most recent versions can use satellite navigation.


Medium-range subsonic

Storm Shadow p1220865
Storm Shadow (UK/France/Italy)
Babur Cruise Missle at Ideas 2008
A Pakistani Babur cruise missile launcher

These missiles are about the same size and weight and fly at similar speeds to the above category, but the range is (officially) less than 1,000 km. Guidance systems vary.


Short-range subsonic

These are subsonic missiles which weigh around 500 kilograms (1,102 lb) and have a range of up to 300 km (190 mi).



AGM-129A - 2006 0306 b52 2lg
AGM-129 ACM being secured on a B-52H bomber

The most common mission for cruise missiles is to attack relatively high-value targets such as ships, command bunkers, bridges and dams.[27] Modern guidance systems permit accurate attacks.

As of 2001 the BGM-109 Tomahawk missile model has become a significant part of the United States naval arsenal. It gives ships and submarines an extremely accurate, long-range, conventional land attack weapon. Each costs about $1.99 million USD.[28] Both the Tomahawk and the AGM-86 were used extensively during Operation Desert Storm. On 7 April 2017, during the Syrian Civil War, U.S. warships fired more than 50 cruise missiles into a Syrian air base in retaliation for a Syrian Sarin gas attack against a rebel stronghold.[29]

The United States Air Force (USAF) deploys an air-launched cruise missile, the AGM-86 ALCM. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is the exclusive delivery vehicle for the AGM-86 and AGM-129 ACM. Both missile types are configurable for either conventional or nuclear warheads.

Both Tomahawk (as BGM-109) and ALCM (AGM-86) were competing designs for the USAF. ALCM nuclear tipped cruise missile to be carried by the B-52 heavy bomber.

BRAHMOS Launcher
Indian Army's BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles mounted on Mobile Autonomous Launchers (MAL).

The USAF adopted the AGM-86 for its bomber fleet while AGM-109 was adapted to launch from trucks and ships and adopted by the USAF and Navy. The truck-launched versions, and also the Pershing II and SS-20 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, were later destroyed under the bilateral INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) treaty with the USSR.

The British Royal Navy (RN) also operates cruise missiles, specifically the U.S.-made Tomahawk, used by the RN's nuclear submarine fleet. UK conventional warhead versions were first fired in combat by the RN in 1999, during the Kosovo War (the United States fired cruise missiles in 1991). The Royal Air Force uses the Storm Shadow cruise missile on its Tornado GR4 aircraft. It is also used by France, where it is known as SCALP EG, and carried by the Armée de l'Air's Mirage 2000 and Rafale aircraft.

India and Russia have jointly developed the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos. There are three versions of the Brahmos: ship/land-launched, air-launched and sub-launched. The ship/land-launched version were operational as of late 2007. The Brahmos has the capability to attack targets on land. Russia also continues to operate other cruise missiles: the SS-N-12 Sandbox, SS-N-19 Shipwreck, SS-N-22 Sunburn and SS-N-25 Switchblade. Germany and Spain operate the Taurus missile while Pakistan has made the Babur missile, a variant of the US Tomahawk missile[30]. Both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) have designed several cruise missile variants, such as the well-known C-802, some of which are capable of carrying biological, chemical, nuclear, and conventional warheads.

Nuclear warhead versions


China has CJ-10 land attack cruise missile which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.[31]


The French Force de Frappe nuclear forces include both land and sea-based bombers with Air-Sol Moyenne Portée high speed medium range nuclear cruise missiles. Two models are in use, ASMP and a newer ASMP-A. Approximately 60 nuclear missiles are in service, 50 land based and 10 sea-based.


India in 2017 successfully flight-tested its indigenous Nirbhay ('Fearless') land-attack cruise missile, which can deliver nuclear warheads to a strike range of 1,000-km [32] Nirbhay had been flight tested unsuccessfully and repeatedly since 2013, leading to concerns that the project would be cancelled.[32][33]


The Israel Defense Forces reportedly deploy the medium-range air-launched Popeye Turbo ALCM and the Popeye Turbo SLCM medium-long range cruise missile with nuclear warheads on Dolphin class submarines.


Pakistan currently has four cruise missile systems: the air-launched Ra'ad; the ground and underwater launched Babur;[34][35][36] ship-launched Harbah missile[37] and surface launched Zarb missile.[38] Both, Ra'ad and Babur, can carry nuclear warheads between 10 and 25 kt, and deliver them to targets at a range of 350 km (220 mi) and 700 km (430 mi) respectively.[39] Babur has been in service with the Pakistan Army since 2010.[40]


Russia has Kh-55SM cruise missiles, with similar to United States' AGM-129 range of 3000 km, but are able to carry a more powerful warhead of 200 kt. They are equipped with a TERCOM system which allows them to cruise at an altitude lower than 110 meters at subsonic speeds while obtaining a CEP accuracy of 15 meters with an Inertial navigation system. They are air-launched from either Tupolev Tu-95s, Tupolev Tu-22Ms, or Tupolev Tu-160s, each able to carry 16 for the Tu-95, 12 for the Tu-160, and 4 for the Tu-22M. A stealth version of the missile, the Kh-101 is in development. It has similar qualities as the Kh-55, except that its range has been extended to 5,000 km, equipped with a 1,000 kg conventional warhead, and has stealth features which reduces its probability of intercept.[41]

United States

The United States has deployed four nuclear cruise missiles at one time or another.

  • SSM-N-8 Regulus submarine-launched missile, out of service
  • AGM-86 ALCM air-launched cruise missile, 350 to 550 missiles and W80 warheads still in service
  • BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile in nuclear submarine-, surface ship-, and ground-launched models, nuclear models out of service but warheads kept in reserve.
  • AGM-129 ACM Advanced Cruise missile, out of service[42]

Efficiency in modern warfare

Currently cruise missiles are among the most expensive of single-use weapons, up to several million dollars apiece. One consequence of this is that its users face difficult choices in target allocation, to avoid expending the missiles on targets of low value. For instance during Operation Enduring Freedom the United States attacked targets of very low monetary value with cruise missiles, which led many to question the efficiency of the weapon. However, proponents of the cruise missile counter that the same argument applies to other types of UAVs: they are cheaper than human pilots when total training and infrastructure costs are taken into account, not to mention the risk of loss of personnel. As demonstrated in Operation Odyssey Dawn and prior conflicts, cruise missiles are much more difficult to detect and intercept than other aerial assets (reduced radar cross-section, infrared and visual signature due to smaller size), suiting them to attacks against static air defense systems. The development of hypersonic missiles systems is, however, problematic from a geopolitical perspective. In an article on this topic, Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan warned that a test ban is very unlikely and that the technology will renew a strategic arms race and geopolitical rivalries.[43]

See also


  1. ^ "Remote Piloted Aerial Vehicles : The 'Aerial Target' and 'Aerial Torpedo' in Britain". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  2. ^ Roger Branfill-Cook, "Torpedo", Seaforth Publishing, Great Britain 2014
  3. ^ "[1.0] The Aerial Torpedo". 13 August 2007. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007.
  4. ^ "Object No. 212", 1936 report in _Tvorcheskoi Nasledie Akedemika Sergeya Pavlovicha Koroleva_
  5. ^ Side note: Both missiles were manufactured under the heavy use of Nazi slave labour.
  6. ^ The Evolution of the Cruise Missile by Werrell, Kenneth P. see PDF page 92 Archived 4 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Russia will refit nuclear powered guided missile cruiser with mach 5 hypersonic 3M22 missiles with 2022 deployment -". 21 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Hypersonic version of Brahmos on the way". The Times Of India. 9 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "BrahMos air launch completes India's supersonic cruise missile triad: Five things you need to know".
  12. ^ "Supersonic Stealth Missile". Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  13. ^ Janes – Perseus: MBDA's missile of the future? Archived 13 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "International Institute for Strategic Studies – IISS". Archived from the original on 28 June 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  15. ^ "New British missile three times as fast as current weapons". 21 June 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  16. ^ MBDA Systems Archived 12 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "PARIS: Perseus set to go on the attack". Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  18. ^ (Retd.), Col Y. Udaya Chandar (24 April 2017). The Modern Weaponry of the World’s Armed Forces. Notion Press. ISBN 9781946983794.
  19. ^ Chandar, Col. Y Udaya (2017). The Modern Weaponry of the World's Armed Forces. Notion Press. ISBN 978-1-946983-79-4.
  20. ^ "Iran will unveil its new home-made cruise missile Meshkat in the near future". Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  21. ^ Ümit Enginsoy. "BUSINESS – Turkey aims to increase ballistic missile ranges". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  22. ^ "TÜBİTAK: Hedefimiz 2 bin 500 kilometre menzilli füze yapmak – Hürriyet EKONOMİ". 14 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  23. ^ "Türk Füzesi SOM İçin Geri Sayım Başladı – Haber – TRT Avaz". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  24. ^ Ukraine Tests Advanced Subsonic Cruise Missile ‘Neptune’, Defense World, 31 January 2018, retrieved 31 January 2018
  25. ^ "Yerli seyir füzesi, 180 kilometreden hedefini vuracak – Hürriyet Gündem". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  26. ^ "Yerli seyir füzesi, 180 kilometreden hedefinin vuracak – Kirpi HABER Cesur | Özgür | Tarafsız Habercilik". Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  27. ^ "Raytheon: Tomahawk Cruise Missile". Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "US missiles blast Syria; Trump demands 'end the slaughter'".
  30. ^
  31. ^ "'Long Sword': China Shows Off Deadly Cruise Missile Test in Shock VIDEO".
  32. ^ a b "India successfully tests its first nuclear-capable cruise missile". The Times of India. 7 November 2017.
  33. ^ "Nuclear-capable Nirbhay cruise missile's test fails for the fourth time – Times of India". The Times of India. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-21.
  34. ^ "Hatf 7 "Babur" – Missile Threat". Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  35. ^ Diplomat, Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran, The. "South Asian Strategic Stability and Pakistan's Babur-3 Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  36. ^ "Pakistan announces cruise missile success". BBC News. 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  37. ^ Diplomat, Ankit Panda, The. "Pakistan Tests An Indigenously Developed Anti-Ship Cruise Missile". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  38. ^ Haider, Mateen (9 April 2016). "Pakistan Navy inducts coastal anti-ship 'Zarb' missile after successful test". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  39. ^ "Nuclear-capable Nirbhay cruise missile's test fails for the fourth time".
  40. ^ Mason, Shane. "Pakistan's Babur and Ra'ad Cruise Missiles: Strategic Implications for India". Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  41. ^ "Kh-101 – Russian and Soviet Nuclear Forces". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  42. ^ "Cruise missile career comes to a close". U.S. Air Force, Tinker Air Force Base public affairs. 24 April 2012. Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  43. ^ "Hypersonic Missiles and Global Security".

External links

1993 cruise missile strikes on Iraq

The cruise missiles strike on Iraq in June 1993 were ordered by U.S. President Bill Clinton as both a retaliation and a warning triggered by the attempted assassination by alleged Iraqi agents on former U.S. President George H. W. Bush while on a visit to Kuwait from 14–16 April 1993.

1996 cruise missile strikes on Iraq

The 1996 cruise missile strikes on Iraq, codenamed Operation Desert Strike, were joint United States Navy-Air Force strikes conducted on 3 September against air defense targets in southern Iraq, in response to an Iraqi offensive in the Kurdish Civil War.


The AGM-129 ACM (Advanced Cruise Missile) was a low-observable, subsonic, turbofan-powered, air-launched cruise missile originally designed and built by General Dynamics and eventually acquired by Raytheon Missile Systems. Prior to its withdrawal from service in 2012, the AGM-129A was carried exclusively by the US Air Force's B-52H Stratofortress bombers.


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 bomber. In combination, the missile dilutes an enemy's forces and complicates air defense of its territory.Examples of the AGM-86A and AGM-86B are on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum, near Washington, D.C.The Tor missile system of the Soviet Union was specifically designed from the outset to shoot down the AGM-86.

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.

Specific types of ALCMs (current, past and under development) include:

BrahMos (India/Russia)

BrahMos-II (India/Russia)

Air-Sol Moyenne Portée ASMP (France)

AGM-28 Hound Dog (USA)






LRSO (Long Range Stand Off Weapon) (USA)

10Kh (USSR)


Kh-20 (USSR)

Kh-32 (Russia)

Kh-55/Kh-555 (USSR/Russia)

Kh-101/Kh-102 (Russia)

Kh-59 (USSR/Russia)

Soumar (Iran)

Kalibr-A (Russia)

Kh-61 (USSR/Russia)

3M-51 Alfa (Russia)

3M22 Zircon (Russia)

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Russia)

Hatf-VIII (Ra'ad) (Pakistan)

CJ-10 (missile) (China)

KEPD 350 (Germany/Sweden)

Popeye (Israel)

SOM (Turkey)

Storm Shadow (France/UK/Italy)

Delilah (missile) (Israel)

Perseus (missile) (France/UK)

BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile

The Ground Launched Cruise Missile, or GLCM, (officially designated BGM-109G Gryphon) was a ground-launched cruise missile developed by the United States Air Force in the last decade of the Cold War and destroyed under the INF Treaty.

In February 2018, U.S. military officials confirmed they were developing a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile to counter alleged Russian development of similar weapons that breach compliance with the INF Treaty.

Babur (cruise missile)

Babur (Urdu: بابر; named after the first Mughal Emperor Zahir-ud-Din Babur), also designated Hatf VII, is a short range turbojet powered subsonic cruise missile that can be launched from land or mobile underwater platforms. The missile was first tested in 2005 and is widely believed to have entered service with the Pakistan Army in 2010.


The BrahMos (designated PJ-10) is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land. It is the fastest cruise missile in the world. It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who together have formed BrahMos Aerospace. It is based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile and other similar sea-skimming Russian cruise missile technology. The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

It is the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation. The missile travels at speeds of Mach 2.8 to 3.0, which is being upgraded to Mach 5.0. The land-launched and ship-launched versions are already in service, with the air and submarine-launched versions currently in the testing phase. An air-launched variant of BrahMos appeared in 2012. A hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos-II, is also presently under development with a speed of Mach 7-8 to boost aerial fast strike capability. It is expected to be ready for testing by 2020.India wanted the BrahMos to be based on a mid range cruise missile like the P-700 Granit. Its propulsion is based on the Russian missile, and missile guidance has been developed by BrahMos Aerospace. The missile is expected to reach a total order US$13 billion.In 2016, as India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Cruise missile submarine

A cruise missile submarine is a submarine that launches cruise missiles (SLCMs) as its primary armament. Cruise missile and dedicated anti-ship missiles greatly enhance a vessel's ability to attack surface combatants. Torpedoes are a more stealthy option, but missiles give a much longer stand-off range, as well as the ability to engage multiple targets on different headings at the same time. Many cruise missile submarines retain the capability to deploy nuclear warheads on their missiles, but they are considered distinct from ballistic missile submarines due to the substantial differences between the two weapons systems' characteristics.

Originally early designs of cruise missile submarines had to surface to launch their missiles, while later designs could do so underwater via dedicated vertical launching system (VLS) tubes. Many modern attack submarines can launch cruise missiles (and dedicated anti-ship missiles) from their torpedo tubes while some designs also incorporate a small number of VLS canisters, giving some significant overlap between cruise missile submarines and traditional attack submarines. Nonetheless, vessels classified as attack submarines still use torpedoes as their main armament and have a more multi-role mission profile due to their greater speed and maneuverability, in contrast to cruise missile submarines which are typically larger slower boats focused on the long distance surface strike role.

The United States Navy's hull classification symbols for cruise missile submarines are SSG and SSGN - the SS denotes submarine, the G denotes guided missile, and the N denotes that the submarine is nuclear-powered.

Meshkat (missile)

The Meshkat (Persian: مشکات, meaning "Lantern") is a medium-range cruise missile built by Iran.

Iranian media quoted Iran's deputy defense minister on September 9, 2012, that a medium-range cruise missile will be revealed soon. The missile can be fired from ground, air and sea and will have a range of 2000 km.

On 2015 a long-range cruise missile was revealed under the name "Soumar (missile)" which possibly is the more matured type of Meshkat. The range of the missile was not mentioned. Haaretz newspaper claimed the design closely resembles the Kh-55 that Iran acquired from Ukraine in 2001. Because of the similarities media guess a range between 2000 and 3000 km for it.

National Engineering and Scientific Commission

The National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) is a civilian controlled scientific and engineering organization of Pakistan, responsible for carrying out research and development in many areas including information technology, fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering, with specialties in the design and production of communication systems and aerodynamic vehicles for the Pakistan Armed Forces. It is under the administrative control of the Strategic Plans Division of Pakistan's National Command Authority and is headquartered in Islamabad, Pakistan.

In 2007 it was reported that NESCOM had exported products worth approximately $40 million annually to various countries in the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. According to then Chairman Samar Mubarakmand, NESCOM had developed various communication systems and electronic counter-measures systems for the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy.


Nirbhay (Sanskrit:Dauntless/Fearless) is a long range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile designed and developed in India by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. The missile can be launched from multiple platforms and is capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads. It is currently under development and undergoing flight trials.


The Novator RK-55 Relief (Russian: РК-55 Рельеф 'Relief'; NATO: SSC-X-4 'Slingshot'; GRAU: 3K12) is a Soviet land-based/submarine-launched cruise missile with a nuclear warhead. It was about to enter service in 1987, when such weapons were banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. A version launched from submarine torpedo tubes, the S-10 Granat (SS-N-21 'Sampson'; GRAU: 3K10), has apparently been converted to carry conventional warheads and continues in service to this day. The Russian Federation was reported to have deployed the derivative SS-CX-7/SS-CX-8 systems on February 14, 2017.

The RK-55 is very similar to the air-launched Kh-55 (AS-15 'Kent') 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.

RSS-40 Buran

The Buran cruise missile, designation RSS-40, was a Soviet intercontinental cruise missile by Myasishchev capable of carrying a 3,500 kg hydrogen bomb payload The project was canceled before flight tests began. It is unrelated to the later Buran reusable orbiter.

SSM-N-8 Regulus

The SSM-N-8A Regulus or the Regulus I was a United States Navy-developed ship-and-submarine-launched, nuclear-capable turbojet-powered second generation cruise missile, deployed from 1955 to 1964. Its development was an outgrowth of U.S. Navy tests conducted with the German V-1 missile at Naval Air Station Point Mugu in California. Its barrel-shaped fuselage resembled that of numerous fighter aircraft designs of the era, but without a cockpit. Test articles of the Regulus were equipped with landing gear and could take off and land like an airplane. When the missiles were deployed they were launched from a rail launcher, and equipped with a pair of Aerojet JATO bottles on the aft end of the fuselage.

Submarine-launched cruise missile

A submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) is a cruise missile that is launched from a submarine (especially a SSG or SSGN). Current versions are typically standoff weapons known as land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), which are used to attack predetermined land targets with conventional or nuclear payloads. Anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) are also used, and some submarine-launched cruise missiles have variants for both functions.

Tomahawk (missile)

The Tomahawk () Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile that is primarily used by the United States Navy and Royal Navy in ship and submarine-based land-attack operations. Introduced by General Dynamics in the 1970s, it was initially designed as a medium- to long-range, low-altitude missile that could be launched from a surface platform. Since then, it has been upgraded several times with guidance systems for precision navigation. In 1992–1994, McDonnell Douglas Corporation was the sole supplier of Tomahawk Missiles and produced Block II and Block III Tomahawk missiles and remanufactured many Tomahawks to Block III specifications. In 1994, Hughes outbid McDonnell Douglas Aerospace to become the sole supplier of Tomahawk missiles. It is now manufactured by Raytheon. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Defense purchased 149 Tomahawk Block IV missiles for $202.3 million.

UGM-89 Perseus

The UGM-89 Perseus was a proposed U.S. Navy submarine-launched anti-ship (AShM) and anti-submarine (ASW) cruise missile that was developed under the Submarine Tactical Missile (STAM) project, which was also referred to as the Submarine Anti-ship Weapon System (STAWS). This missile system was to be the centerpiece for a proposed third-generation nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine championed by then-Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the influential but controversial head of the Navy's nuclear propulsion program.

Ya-Ali (missile)

The Ya-Ali (Persian: یاعلی) is a land attack cruise missile (LACM) built by Iran. IT carries a 200 kg warhead. The air launched type of the missile has a range of about 700km but land and sea launched versions are also under development.

The missile was first unveiled on 11 May 2014 when Iranian leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visited the Aerospace Force of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. According to Janes Defence, the missile has a jet engine inlet and possibly uses a version of the Toloue-4 turbojet Iran produces for its longer-range anti-ship missiles and it is reported to have a range of 700 km. On February 7, 2015, Iran’s Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad Eslami announced that the missile could previously be launched from only Mirage type fighter planes but it can now be launched from every fighter plane that Iran owns. It is named after a Shi'i religious expression beseeching imam Ali.

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