“Saya bangga bisa menyapu jalanan di Teheran.”
~Dr. Mahmud Ahmadinejad~
In a modern military, a missile is a self-propelled guided weapon system, as opposed to a unguided self-propelled munition, referred to as just a rocket (weapon) . Missiles have four system components:
targeting and/or 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 (anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic), air-to-air missiles, and anti-satellite missiles. All known existing missiles are designed to be propelled during powered flight by chemical reactions inside a rocket engine, jet engine, or other type of engine.
Non-self-propelled airborne explosive devices are generally referred to as shells and usually have a shorter range than missiles.
Lockheed Martin’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) System
The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send".
In military usage, munitions projected towards a target are broadly categorised as follows:
- A powered, guided munition that travels through the air or space is known as a missile (or guided missile.)
- A powered, unguided munition is known as a rocket.
- Unpowered munitions not fired from a gun are called bombs whether guided or not; unpowered, guided munitions are known as guided bombs or "smart bombs".
- Munitions that are fired from a gun are known as projectiles whether guided or not. If explosive they are known more specifically as shells or mortar bombs.
- Powered munitions that travel through water are called torpedoes (an older usage includes fixed torpedoes, which might today be called mines).
- Hand grenades are not usually classed as missiles.
A common further sub-division is to consider ballistic missile to mean a munition that follows a ballistic trajectory and cruise missile to describe a munition that generates lift.
Sources and Additional Reading
- Abernethy, Bob. “Interview with The History Factory.” Oct. 4, 2012.
- Defense Department, Army. 2010 Weapons Systems. Government Printing Office.
- Harwood, William B. Raise Heaven and Earth. Simon & Schuster, 1993.
- Kesner, Kenneth. “MEADS Engages Target Simulating Attack From Behind in Defense System’s First Flight Test.” The Huntsville Times, Nov. 18, 2011. Viewed Nov. 28, 2012 at http://blog.al.com/huntsville-times-business/2011/11/meads_1.html
- Lerman, David. “Lockheed’s THAAD Missile Defense Hits Two Targets in Test.” Bloomberg News, Oct. 5, 2011. Viewed: Nov. 28, 2012. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-05/lockheed-s-thaad-missile-defense-hits-two-targets-in-test.html
- Mahnkin, Thomas Gilbert. Technology and the American Way of War Since 1945. Columbia University Press, 2008. http://books.google.com/books?id=WzIfv5xH8x0C&pg=PT108&dq=PAC-2+missile&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4Nm0UMrFCOOFyQGRkoDACA&ved=0CEMQ6AEwBA
- National Research Council (U.S.). Naval Forces’ Capability for Theatre Missile Defense. National Academies Press, 2001. http://books.google.com/books?id=yw37e28Ct4MC&pg=PT218&dq=PAC-2+missile&hl=en&sa=X&ei=F9m0UK7tHIrbyQHtnIFo&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAA
- Scott, Joseph C. “The First PAC-3 Engagement.” Air Defense Artillery, April-June 2006.
- Wiese, William C. “Interview with The History Factory.” Nov. 15, 2012.