What is a missile?
Basically any object thrown at a target with the aim of hitting it is a missile. Thus, a stone thrown at a bird is a missile. The bird, by using its power of reasoning may evade the missile (the stone) by moving either to the Left, right, top or bottom with respect to the flight path (trajectory) of the missile. Thus, the missile in this case has been ineffective in its objective of hitting the bird (the target). Now, if the stone too is imparted with some intelligence and quick response to move with respect to the bird, to overcome aiming errors and the bird's evasive actions and hit it accurately, the stone now becomes a guided missile.
The incorporation of energy source in a missile to provide the required force for its movement (propulsion), intelligence to go in the correct direction (guidance) and effective maneuvering (control) are mainly the technologies of guided missiles. They help in making a missile specific to a target, that is, they determine the size, range and state of motion of a missile.
Types Of Guided Missiles
Presently, there are many types of guided missiles. They can be broadly classified on the basis of their features such as type of target; range; mode of launching; system adopted for control, propulsion or guidance; aerodynamics; etc. They are also termed in a broad sense as strategic or tactical, defensive or offensive.
On the basis of target they could be called
Another classification of missiles which is very popular is based on the method of launching. The following list will clarify this
SSMs are common ground-to-ground ones though these may also be launched from a ship to another ship. Underwater weapons which are launched from a submarine also come under this class of missiles.
On the basis of launch platform, missiles can be termed as
Based on guidance, missiles are broadly classified as
Depending on the aerodynamic control adopted, a missile is called
One more classification is based on the type of trajectory and a missile is called
By definition a ballistic missile is the one which covers a major part of its range outside the atmosphere where the only external force acting on the missile is the gravitational force of Earth, while the cruise missile is the one which travels its entire range in the atmosphere at a nearly constant height and speed. However, a missile could have a combination of the two also where a missile could cover part of the flight in ballistic mode and later a terminal portion in cruise mode.
Yet another classification is based on the propulsion system provided in the missile. In rocket propulsion, we have:
In air-breathing propulsion, we have:
Currently, other types of propulsion like ionic, nuclear, plasma, etc. are under research and development but no known missile uses these.
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