AIR-LAUNCHED GUIDED MISSILES AND
GUIDED MISSILE LAUNCHERS
Guided missiles are self-propelled objects. After
launching, they automatically alter their direction of
flight in response to signals received from outside
sources. They usually carry high-explosive charges and
are equipped with a means to explode them at or near a
target. The majority of guided missiles used in the Navy
are essentially rockets that are maneuvered while in
air-launched guided missile classifications.
Match missiles with their range and speed.
Identify air-launched guided missiles and
recognize the methods used to designate them.
Identify missile components to include
guidance and control, armament, and
propulsion systems. Identify the guided
missiles used in the Navy today.
The purpose of a guided missile is to reach and
destroy or damage its target. The type of target involved
influences the characteristics of the missile; however,
each missile meets the following basic requirements:
It must have sufficient speed to intercept or catch
It must be maneuverable in flight to correct its
flight path as required to intercept the target.
It must be capable of inflicting a satisfactory
degree of damage to the target on intercept.
It must have an acceptable operating envelope
(range/altitude) within which it is effective.
It must be capable of launching when required
and at a satisfactory rate.
The missile and its components must be safe to
handle, store, and use.
In general, a typical guided missile has a long,
cylindrical shape, with an oval or a hemispherically
shaped nose. It is fitted with a series of stabilizing or
maneuvering fins, wings, or canards around its outer
Guided missiles are classified according to their
range, speed, launch environment, mission, and vehicle
Long-range guided missiles are usually capable of
traveling a distance of at least 100 miles. Short-range
guided missiles often do not exceed the range
capabilities of long-range guns. The Navy has
air-launched guided missiles that function within these
ranges; they are medium-range or extended-range
The speed capability of guided missiles is expressed
in Mach numbers. A Mach number is the ratio of the
speed of an object to the speed of sound in the medium
through which the object is moving. Under standard
atmospheric conditions, sonic speed is about 766 miles
per hour (Mach 1.0). Guided missiles are classified
according to their speed as shown below:
SubsonicUp to Mach 0.8
TransonicMach 0.8 to Mach 1.2
SupersonicMach 1.2 to Mach 5.0
HypersonicAbove Mach 5.0
When considering the speed of an air-launched
guided missile, the speed of the launching aircraft is
added to the speed of the missile. For example, if a
missiles speed is Mach 2.5 and the aircrafts speed, at
the time of missile launch, is Mach 2.0, the missiles
speed is Mach 4.5.