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.

V-2 lift-off
A V-2 rocket launch by the British during Operation Backfire

Early development

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1975-117-26, Marschflugkörper V1 vor Start
V-1 missile

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.


Guided missiles have a number of different system components:

  • Guidance system
  • Targeting system
  • Flight system
  • Engine
  • Warhead

Guidance systems

Missile Maintainer inspects missile guidance system of the LGM-30G Minuteman ICBM
Missile Maintainer inspects missile guidance system of the LGM-30G Minuteman ICBM

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.

Targeting systems

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.

Flight system

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.).


Solid-Fuel Rocket Diagram
A simplified diagram of a solid-fuel rocket.
1. A solid fuel-oxidizer mixture (propellant) is packed into the rocket, with a cylindrical hole in the middle.
2. An igniter combusts the surface of the propellant.
3. The cylindrical hole in the propellant acts as a combustion chamber.
4. The hot exhaust is choked at the throat, which, among other things, dictates the amount of thrust produced.
5. Exhaust exits the rocket.

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.

Basic roles

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.


Dnepr rocket lift-off 1
An R-36 ballistic missile launch at a Soviet silo

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.[1]


Indian Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos.

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 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.


The French Exocet missile in flight

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.


U.S. Army soldiers firing an FGM-148 Javelin

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.

Surface-to-air and subsurface-to-air


Patriot missile launch b
MIM-104 Patriot missile being launched

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).


ASAT missile launch
ASM-135 ASAT missile launch in 1985

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.

See also


  1. ^ "World's military powers". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2010-05-30.

External links

AGM-114 Hellfire

The AGM-114 Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile (ASM) first developed for anti-armor use, but later models were developed for precision strikes against other target types, and have been used in a number of targeted killings of high-profile individuals. It was originally developed under the name Heliborne, Laser, Fire and Forget Missile, which led to the colloquial name "Hellfire" ultimately becoming the missile's formal name. It has multi-mission, multi-target precision-strike ability, and can be launched from multiple air, sea, and ground platforms, including the Predator drone. The Hellfire missile is the primary 100-pound (45 kg) class air-to-ground precision weapon for the armed forces of the United States and many other nations.

Anti-ballistic missile

An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a surface-to-air missile designed to counter ballistic missiles (see missile defense). Ballistic missiles are used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological, or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" is a generic term conveying a system designed to intercept and destroy any type of ballistic threat, however it is commonly used for systems specifically designed to counter intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Anti-tank guided missile

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.

ATGMs range in size from shoulder-launched weapons, which can be transported by a single soldier, to larger tripod-mounted weapons, which require a squad or team to transport and fire, to vehicle and aircraft mounted missile systems.

The introduction to the modern battlefield of smaller, man-portable ATGMs with larger warheads has given infantry the ability to defeat light and medium tanks at great ranges, though main battle tanks (MBTs) using composite and reactive armors have proven to be resistant to smaller ATGMs. Earlier infantry anti-tank weapons, such as anti-tank rifles, anti-tank rockets and magnetic anti-tank mines, had limited armor-penetration abilities or required a soldier to approach the target closely. As of 2016, ATGMs were used by over 130 countries and many non-state actors around the world.


The BGM-71 TOW ("Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided") is an American anti-tank missile. TOW replaced much smaller missiles like the SS.10 and ENTAC, offering roughly twice the effective range, a more powerful warhead, and a greatly improved semi-automatic guidance system that could also be equipped with infrared cameras for night time use.

First produced in 1970, TOW is one of the most widely used anti-tank guided missiles. It can be found in a wide variety of manually carried and vehicle-mounted forms, as well as widespread use on helicopters. Originally designed by Hughes Aircraft in the 1960s, the weapon is currently produced by Raytheon.

Ballistic missile

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.

These weapons are in a distinct category from cruise missiles, which are aerodynamically guided in powered flight.

Ballistic missile submarine

A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine capable of deploying submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with nuclear warheads. The United States Navy's hull classification symbols for ballistic missile submarines are SSB and SSBN – the SS denotes submarine (or submersible ship), the B denotes ballistic missile, and the N denotes that the submarine is nuclear powered. These submarines became a major weapon system in the Cold War because of their nuclear deterrence capability. They can fire missiles thousands of kilometers from their targets, and acoustic quieting makes them difficult to detect (see acoustic signature), thus making them a survivable deterrent in the event of a first strike and a key element of the mutual assured destruction policy of nuclear deterrence. Their deployment has been dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union / Russia, with smaller numbers in service with France, the United Kingdom, China, and India.

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.


A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.

The term has been in use for several hundred years, and has had different meanings throughout this period. During the Age of Sail, the term cruising referred to certain kinds of missions – independent scouting, commerce protection, or raiding – fulfilled by a frigate or sloop-of-war, which were the cruising warships of a fleet.

In the middle of the 19th century, cruiser came to be a classification for the ships intended for cruising distant waters, commerce raiding, and scouting for the battle fleet. Cruisers came in a wide variety of sizes, from the medium-sized protected cruiser to large armored cruisers that were nearly as big (although not as powerful or as well-armored) as a pre-dreadnought battleship. With the advent of the dreadnought battleship before World War I, the armored cruiser evolved into a vessel of similar scale known as the battlecruiser. The very large battlecruisers of the World War I era that succeeded armored cruisers were now classified, along with dreadnought battleships, as capital ships.

By the early 20th century after World War I, the direct successors to protected cruisers could be placed on a consistent scale of warship size, smaller than a battleship but larger than a destroyer. In 1922, the Washington Naval Treaty placed a formal limit on these cruisers, which were defined as warships of up to 10,000 tons displacement carrying guns no larger than 8 inches in bore diametre; heavy cruisers had 8-inch guns, while those with guns of 6.1 inches or less were light cruisers, which shaped cruiser design until the end of World War II. Some variations on the Treaty cruiser design included the German Deutschland-class "pocket battleships" which had heavier armament at the expense of speed compared to standard heavy cruisers, and the American Alaska class, which was a scaled-up heavy cruiser design designated as a "cruiser-killer".

In the later 20th century, the obsolescence of the battleship left the cruiser as the largest and most powerful surface combatant after the aircraft carrier. The role of the cruiser varied according to ship and navy, often including air defense and shore bombardment. During the Cold War, the Soviet Navy's cruisers had heavy anti-ship missile armament designed to sink NATO carrier task forces via saturation attack. The U.S. Navy built guided-missile cruisers upon destroyer-style hulls (some called "destroyer leaders" or "frigates" prior to the 1975 reclassification) primarily designed to provide air defense while often adding anti-submarine capabilities, being larger and having longer-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) than early Charles F. Adams guided-missile destroyers tasked with the short-range air defense role. By the end of the Cold War, the line between cruisers and destroyers had blurred, with the Ticonderoga-class cruiser using the hull of the Spruance-class destroyer but receiving the cruiser designation due to their enhanced mission and combat systems. Indeed, the newest U.S. and Chinese destroyers (for instance the Zumwalt class and Type 055) are more heavily armed than some of the cruisers that they succeeded.

Currently only two nations operate cruisers: the United States and Russia, and in both cases the vessels are primarily armed with guided missiles. BAP Almirante Grau was the last gun cruiser in service, serving with the Peruvian Navy until 2017.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 (Spanish: Crisis de Octubre), the Caribbean Crisis (Russian: Карибский кризис, tr. Karibsky krizis, IPA: [kɐˈrʲipskʲɪj ˈkrʲizʲɪs]), or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day (October 16–28, 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by the American discovery of Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.In response to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961 and the presence of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to Cuba's request to place nuclear missiles on the island to deter a future invasion. An agreement was reached during a secret meeting between Khrushchev and Fidel Castro in July 1962, and construction of a number of missile launch facilities started later that summer.

The 1962 United States elections were under way, and the White House had for months denied charges that it was ignoring dangerous Soviet missiles 90 miles (140 km) from Florida. The missile preparations were confirmed when an Air Force U-2 spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of medium-range (SS-4) and intermediate-range (R-14) ballistic missile facilities. The US established a naval blockade on October 22 to prevent further missiles from reaching Cuba; Oval Office tapes during the crisis revealed that Kennedy had also put the blockade in place as an attempt to provoke Soviet-backed forces in Berlin as well. The US announced it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the weapons already in Cuba be dismantled and returned to the Soviet Union.

After several days of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between US President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement to avoid invading Cuba again. Secretly, the United States agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter MRBMs, which had been deployed in Turkey against the Soviet Union; there has been debate on whether or not Italy was included in the agreement as well.

When all offensive missiles and Ilyushin Il-28 light bombers had been withdrawn from Cuba, the blockade was formally ended on November 21, 1962. The negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union pointed out the necessity of a quick, clear, and direct communication line between Washington and Moscow. As a result, the Moscow–Washington hotline was established. A series of agreements reduced US–Soviet tensions for several years until both parties began to build their nuclear arsenal even further.


A frigate () is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.

In the 17th century, a frigate was any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built". These could be warships carrying their principal batteries of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed.

In the 18th century, frigates were full-rigged ships, that is square-rigged on all three masts, they were built for speed and handiness, had a lighter armament than a ship of the line, and were used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armaments upon a single continuous deck – the upper deck – while ships of the line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns.

In the late 19th century (beginning about 1858 with the construction of prototypes by the British and French navies), the armoured frigate was a type of ironclad warship that for a time was the most powerful type of vessel afloat. The term "frigate" was used because such ships still mounted their principal armaments on a single continuous upper deck.

In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. Ship classes dubbed "frigates" have also more closely resembled corvettes, destroyers, cruisers and even battleships. Some European navies such as the French, German or Spanish ones use the term "frigate" for both their destroyers and frigates. The rank "frigate captain" derives from the name of this type of ship.

Harpoon (missile)

The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system, developed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security). In 2004, Boeing delivered the 7,000th Harpoon unit since the weapon's introduction in 1977. The missile system has also been further developed into a land-strike weapon, the Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM).

The regular Harpoon uses active radar homing, and a low-level, sea-skimming cruise trajectory to improve survivability and lethality. The missile's launch platforms include:

Fixed-wing aircraft (the AGM-84, without the solid-fuel rocket booster)

Surface ships (the RGM-84, fitted with a solid-fuel rocket booster that detaches when expended, to allow the missile's main turbojet to maintain flight)

Submarines (the UGM-84, fitted with a solid-fuel rocket booster and encapsulated in a container to enable submerged launch through a torpedo tube);

Coastal defense batteries, from which it would be fired with a solid-fuel rocket booster.

Indian Armed Forces

The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of three professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. Additionally, the Indian Armed Forces are supported by the Indian Coast Guard and paramilitary organisations (Assam Rifles, and Special Frontier Force) and various inter-service commands and institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Integrated Defence Staff. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Government of India. With strength of over 1.4 million active personnel, it is the world's 2nd largest military force and has the world's largest volunteer army.It is important to note that the Central Armed Police Forces, which are commonly and incorrectly referred to as 'Paramilitary Forces' based on colonial perspective, are not armed forces. As such they are headed by civilian officers from the Indian Police Service and are under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, not the Ministry of Defence. These are central police organisations.

The Indian armed forces have been engaged in a number of major military operations, including: the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971, the Portuguese-Indian War, the Sino-Indian War, the 1967 Chola incident, the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, the Kargil War, and the Siachen conflict among others. India honours its armed forces and military personnel annually on Armed Forces Flag Day, 7 December. Since 1962, the IAF has maintained close military relations with Russia, including cooperative development of programmes such as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). Armed with the nuclear triad, the Indian armed forces are steadily undergoing modernisation, with investments in areas such as futuristic soldier systems and missile defence systems.The Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the indigenous production of equipment used by the Indian Armed Forces. It comprises the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories under the control of the Ordnance Factories Board, and eight Defence PSUs namely: HAL, BEL, BEML, BDL, MDL, GSL, GRSE and Midhani. India was the largest importer of defence equipment in 2014 with Russia, Israel, France and the United States being the top foreign suppliers of military equipment. The Government of India has launched a Make in India initiative to indigenise manufacturing and reduce dependence on imports, including defence imports and procurement.

Intercontinental ballistic missile

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a guided ballistic missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi) primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery (delivering one or more thermonuclear warheads). Similarly, conventional, chemical, and biological weapons can also be delivered with varying effectiveness, but have never been deployed on ICBMs. Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target.

Early ICBMs had limited precision, which made them suitable for use only against the largest targets, such as cities. They were seen as a "safe" basing option, one that would keep the deterrent force close to home where it would be difficult to attack. Attacks against military targets (especially hardened ones) still demanded the use of a more precise, manned bomber. Second- and third-generation designs (such as the LGM-118 Peacekeeper) dramatically improved accuracy to the point where even the smallest point targets can be successfully attacked.

ICBMs are differentiated by having greater range and speed than other ballistic missiles: intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs). Short and medium-range ballistic missiles are known collectively as theatre ballistic missiles.

LGM-30 Minuteman

The LGM-30 Minuteman is a U.S. land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in service with the Air Force Global Strike Command. As of 2018, the LGM-30G Minuteman III version is the only land-based ICBM in service in the United States.

Development of the Minuteman began in the mid-1950s and as the outgrowth of basic research into solid fuel rocket motors which indicated an ICBM based on solids was possible. Such a missile could stand ready for extended periods of time with little maintenance and then launch on command. In comparison, existing U.S. missile designs using liquid rocket propellant required a lengthy fueling process immediately before launch, which left them open to the possibility of a surprise attack. This potential for immediate launch gave the missile its name; like the Revolutionary War's Minutemen, the Minuteman was designed to be launched on a moment's notice.Minuteman entered service in 1962 as a weapon tasked primarily with the deterrence role, threatening Soviet cities with a second strike countervalue counterattack if the U.S. was attacked. However, the development of the U.S. Navy's Polaris missile, which addressed the same role, allowed the Air Force to modify Minuteman into a weapon with much greater accuracy with the specific intent of allowing it to attack hardened military targets, including Soviet missile silos. The Minuteman-II entered service in 1965 with a host of upgrades to improve its accuracy and survivability in the face of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system the Soviets were known to be developing. Minuteman-III followed in 1970, using three smaller warheads instead of one large one, which made it difficult to counter because the ABMs would have to hit all three widely separated warheads to be effective. Minuteman-III was the first multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) ICBM to be deployed. Each missile can carry up to three thermonuclear weapons, and were initially armed with the W62 warhead with a yield of 170 kilotons.

Peaking at 1,000 missiles in the 1970s, the current U.S. force consists of 399 Minuteman-III missiles as of September 2017, deployed in missile silos around Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. The Air Force plans to keep the missile in service until at least 2030. It is one component of the U.S. nuclear triad—the other two parts of the triad being the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers.

MIM-104 Patriot

The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the primary of its kind used by the United States Army and several allied nations. It is manufactured by the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon and derives its name from the radar component of the weapon system. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the "Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target" which is a backronym for PATRIOT. The Patriot System replaced the Nike Hercules system as the U.S. Army's primary High to Medium Air Defense (HIMAD) system, and replaced the MIM-23 Hawk system as the U.S. Army's medium tactical air defense system. In addition to these roles, Patriot has been given the function of the U.S. Army's anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, which is now Patriot's primary mission. The system is expected to stay fielded until at least 2040.Patriot uses an advanced aerial interceptor missile and high-performance radar systems. Patriot was developed at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, which had previously developed the Safeguard ABM system and its component Spartan and hypersonic speed Sprint missiles. The symbol for Patriot is a drawing of a Revolutionary War-era Minuteman.

Patriot systems have been sold to the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Republic of China (Taiwan), Greece, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Romania. South Korea purchased several second-hand Patriot systems from Germany after North Korea test-launched ballistic missiles to the Sea of Japan and proceeded with underground nuclear testing in 2006. Jordan also purchased several second-hand Patriot systems from Germany.

Poland hosts training rotations of a battery of U.S. Patriot launchers. This started in the town of Morąg in May 2010 but was later moved further from the Russian border to Toruń and Ustka due to Russian objections.

On December 4, 2012, NATO authorized the deployment of Patriot missile launchers in Turkey to protect the country from missiles fired in the civil war in neighboring Syria. Patriot was one of the first tactical systems in the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) to employ lethal autonomy in combat.The Patriot system gained notoriety during the Persian Gulf War of 1991 with the claimed engagement of over 40 Iraqi Scud missiles, those claims became a source of controversy. The system was successfully used against Iraqi missiles in 2003 Iraq War, and has been also used by Saudi and Emirati forces in the Yemen conflict against Houthi missile attacks. The Patriot system achieved its first undisputed shootdowns of enemy aircraft in the service of the Israeli Air Defense Command. Israeli MIM-104D batteries shot down two Hamas UAVs during Operation Protective Edge on August 31, 2014 and later, on September 23, 2014, an Israeli Patriot battery shot down a Syrian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 which had penetrated Israeli airspace, achieving the first shootdown of a manned enemy aircraft in the world for the system.

Submarine-launched ballistic missile

A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile capable of being launched from submarines. Modern variants usually deliver multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) each of which carries a nuclear warhead and allows a single launched missile to strike several targets. Submarine-launched ballistic missiles operate in a different way from submarine-launched cruise missiles.

Modern submarine-launched ballistic missiles are closely related to intercontinental ballistic missiles (with ranges of over 5,500 kilometres (3,000 nmi), and in many cases SLBMs and ICBMs may be part of the same family of weapons.

Surface-to-air missile

A surface-to-air missile (SAM), or ground-to-air missile (GTAM ), is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles. It is one type of antiaircraft system; in modern armed forces, missiles have replaced most other forms of dedicated antiaircraft weapons, with anti-aircraft guns pushed into specialized roles.

The first serious attempts at SAM development took place during World War II, although no operational systems were introduced. Further development in the 1940s and 1950s led to the first operational systems being introduced by most major forces during the second half of the 1950s. Smaller systems, suitable for close-range work, evolved through the 1960s and 1970s, to modern systems that are man-portable. Shipborne systems followed the evolution of land-based models, starting with long-range weapons and steadily evolving toward smaller designs to provide a layered defence that have pushed gun-based systems into the shortest-range roles.

The American Nike Ajax was the first operational guided missile SAM system, and the Soviet Union's S-75 Dvina was the most-produced SAM. Widely used modern examples include the Patriot and S-300 wide-area systems, SM-6 naval missiles, and short-range man-portable systems like the Stinger and Strela-3.

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.

V-2 rocket

The V-2 (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2, "Retribution Weapon 2"), technical name Aggregat 4 (A4), was the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile. The missile, powered by a liquid-propellant rocket engine, was developed during the Second World War in Germany as a "vengeance weapon", assigned to attack Allied cities as retaliation for the Allied bombings against German cities. The V-2 rocket also became the first man-made object to travel into space by crossing the Kármán line with the vertical launch of MW 18014 on 20 June 1944.Research into military use of long-range rockets began when the studies of graduate student Wernher von Braun attracted the attention of the German Army. A series of prototypes culminated in the A-4, which went to war as the V-2. Beginning in September 1944, over 3,000 V-2s were launched by the German Wehrmacht against Allied targets, first London and later Antwerp and Liège. According to a 2011 BBC documentary, the attacks from V-2s resulted in the deaths of an estimated 9,000 civilians and military personnel, and a further 12,000 forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners died as a result of their forced participation in the production of the weapons.As Germany collapsed, teams from the Allied forces—the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union—raced to capture key German manufacturing sites and technology. Wernher von Braun and over 100 key V-2 personnel surrendered to the Americans. Eventually, many of the original V-2 team ended up working at the Redstone Arsenal. The US also captured enough V-2 hardware to build approximately 80 of the missiles. The Soviets gained possession of the V-2 manufacturing facilities after the war, re-established V-2 production, and moved it to the Soviet Union.

Types of missiles
By platform
By target type
By guidance

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.