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Monday, May 20, 2024

Types Of Missile Systems Explained – Part 2

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Types Of Missile Systems Explained – Part 2

Well. In the first part, we covered conventional guided missiles.

They can be further divided into cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.

The difference between the two (in short):

A ballistic missile is a type of missile which uses rocket propulsion for its travel and it travels along a parabolic trajectory.

A cruise missile, on the other hand, is a scaled-down aircraft. It has its own small wings and air-breathing engines which propel it through the air.

Comparison of the path shown by a diagram.

Cruise Missiles:

A cruise missile is fired and continues toward the target under its own power until it strikes its target. They cruise along the water or land. They have a guiding system.

Cruise missiles have jet engines that kick on during the cruise phase. They ride this continuous thrust into the target. They also travel mostly horizontally.

Cruise missiles achieve lower range as compared to ballistic missiles.

Cruise missiles fly at low altitudes compared to ballistic missiles.

Cruise missiles can be divided into 3 types:

  1. Subsonic cruise missiles

  2. Supersonic cruise missiles

  3. Hypersonic cruise missiles

Speed of sound is 1 Mach.

Missiles with speed slower than the speed of sound are called subsonic cruise missiles.

Missiles with speed faster than the speed of sound are called supersonic cruise missiles.

Subsonic missiles cover longer range than supersonic missiles but they are also easier to shoot down by enemy air defence. The speed of supersonic cruise missiles is its USP which makes the enemy defenceless as it gives them less time to react. The supersonic cruise missiles are often larger in size than subsonic ones.

Hypersonic Missiles

Missiles which travel at speeds more than that of Mach 5 are termed as hypersonic missiles. These missiles are mostly experimental and are currently not deployed for active use, unlike supersonic missiles. USA, Russia, India and China are supposed to have hypersonic cruise missiles under development for active deployment.

A cruise missile can be launched by aircraft, ships, submarines or by ground vehicles.

launched from a ship

launched from a land vehicle

launched from aircraft

launched from submarine

Cruise missiles can carry nuclear warheads.


The BrahMos 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.

The name BrahMos is based on the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

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.

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.

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.


Stay tuned to DDE for more content.

Let me know how you found it in the comments below.

If you have learnt anything from above share it with your friends.

If you have any question or suggestions you can let me know in the comments.

Part 3 will be out soon.

Jai Hind

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DDE editor
DDE Editorial Team comprises of researchers & content writers. The source of write ups are individual researches, references, informants and documentations. If you wish to submit a write up or information please write to contactus@defencedirecteducation.com



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