Cruise Missile and Ballistic Missile: Here is the Difference Between Them

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When you keep reading about countries making defence deals and launching missiles every other day, here is your brush up of two types of missile, the Cruise Missile, and Ballistic Missile:

Cruise Missile:

  • A cruise missile locates its target, or has a preset target, and navigates there.
  • Cruise missiles generally consist of a guidance system, payload, and aircraft propulsion system, housed in an airframe with small wings and empennage for flight control.
  • Cruise missiles that can be launched from various platforms whether from Land, Sea (Submarine, Ship) or Air
  • Cruise missiles characterized by having different forms of guidance whether inertial or beyond visual range satellite GPS guidance.
  • They are known specifically for the low-level flight which is staying relatively close to the surface of the earth to avoid detection from anti-missile systems and are designed to carry large payloads with high precision. The key is that the missile is guided entirely to the target under its own power.
  • Cruise missiles can be categorized by size, speed (subsonic or supersonic), and range, and whether launched from land, air, surface ship, or submarine.
  • Land attack missiles (LACM), are the cruise missiles which are designed to hit stationary or moving targets on land.

Ballistic Missile:

  • The ballistic missile is targeted as a projectile from a single launch force with not much-added guidance.
  • It is launched directly into the high layers of the earth’s atmosphere.
  • It travels well outside the atmosphere and then the warhead detaches and falls back to earth. It follows the path of a ball thrown upwards which falls down.
  • Since it depends on gravity to reach its target, it’s called a ballistic missile.
  • Ballistic missiles that fly above the atmosphere have a much longer range than would be possible for cruise missiles of the same size.
  • Ballistic missiles can travel extremely quickly along their flight path. An ICBM can strike a target within a 10,000 km range in about 30 to 35 minutes.
  • With terminal speeds of over 5,000 m/s, ballistic missiles are much harder to intercept than cruise missiles, due to the much shorter time available.
  • Ballistic missiles are some of the most feared weapons available, despite the fact that cruise missiles are cheaper, more mobile, and more versatile.
  • Tactical, short- and medium-range missiles are often collectively referred to as tactical and theatre ballistic missiles, respectively.
  • Long- and medium-range ballistic missiles are generally designed to deliver nuclear weapons because their payload is too limited for conventional explosives to be cost-effective.

 

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