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Cruise Missile

Cruise Missile

Cruise missiles come in several varieties, the most well known being the Tomahawk. Operating rather like a

pilotless airplane, these missiles have powerful guidance systems that make them capable of hitting precise targets from a great distance. Operated by the United States Air Force and Navy, cruise missiles can be deployed from aircraft, submarines, and destroyers.

Of the two most notable types of cruise missile, the Tomahawk, most often used by the Navy, is 18 feet, 3 inches (5.56 m) long and weighs 2,900 pounds (1,315 kg). The Air Force AGM-86B/C weighs 3,150 pounds (1,429 kg) and measures 20 feet, 9 inches (6.3 m). The AGM, first deployed (as an 86B) in December 1982, is an air-to-ground strategic cruise missile, while the Tomahawk, which first saw service in 1986, is a long-range subsonic cruise missile for striking high-value or heavily defended land targets. Both have gone through several changes, including the introduction of the Tactical Tomahawk, to be launched from forward-deployed ships and submarines, in 2004.

A cruise missile includes a solid rocket booster, which makes up approximately fifteen percent of its weight at launch. Once it has burned its fuel, the booster falls away and the missile's wings, tail fins, and air inlet unfold. From that point until it reaches its target, the missile is powered by its turbofan engine. In flight, the cruise missile has a speed of about 550 miles per hour (880 kph).

Neither size nor speed nor rocket booster systems define the cruise missile as much as its accuracy. The Tomahawk has a range of 870 nautical miles (1,000 statute miles, or 1,609 km), and the AGM more than 1,500 miles (2,400 km) or morethe exact figure is classifiedyet both are capable of hitting a target the size of a truck. Guiding these missiles are four different systems: the inertial guidance system, which detects changes in the missile's motion; terrain contour matching, which applies a three-dimensional database of the terrain over which the missile flies; global positioning system (GPS), which includes both military satellites and an onboard GPS receiver; and digital scene matching area correlation, which switches on once the missile nears its target, using an image correlator and a camera to locate the target.

FURTHER READING:

BOOKS:

Gormley, Dennis. Dealing with the Threat of Cruise Missiles. New York: Oxford University Press for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2001.

Huisken, Ronald. The Origin of the Strategic Cruise Missile. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1981.

Werrell, Kenneth P. The Evolution of the Cruise Missile. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University Press, 1985.

ELECTRONIC:

Fact Sheet: AGM-86B/C Missiles. U.S. Air Force. <http://www.af.mil/news/factsheets/AGM_86B_C_Missiles.html> (April 7, 2003).

How Cruise Missiles Work. Howstuffworks.com. <http://www.howstuffworks.com/cruise-missile.htm> (April 7,2003).

Navy Facts: Tomahawk Cruise Missile. U.S. Navy Office of Information. <http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/missiles/wep-toma.html> (April 7, 2003).

SEE ALSO

Ballistic Missiles
Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, United States GPS
Patriot Missile System
Strategic Defense Initiative and National Missile Defense
Undersea Espionage: Nuclear vs. Fast Attack Subs

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"Cruise Missile." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Cruise Missile." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cruise-missile

"Cruise Missile." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cruise-missile

cruise missile

cruise missile, low-flying, continuously powered offensive missile designed to evade defense systems. Although the German V-1 (1944) was a simple cruise missile, the cruise missile did not realize its potential until the 1970s, when the United States sought to develop a relatively inexpensive method for delivering weapons over long distances with pinpoint accuracy. The missile, which flies at altitudes of about 50 ft (15 m), has a range of up to 2,000 mi (3,200 km). It uses internally stored computerized maps of its route to follow the contour of the terrain and also makes use of information from navigation satellites to adjust its course. A cruise missile can deliver conventional or nuclear weapons. In its various modifications, it can be launched from aircraft, ships, or ground installations against land or naval targets. The U.S. Navy used conventional Tomahawk cruise missiles (TLAM-C) during the Persian Gulf War. Several other nations have developed cruise missiles.

See K. Werrell, The Evolution of the Cruise Missile (1985).

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"cruise missile." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cruise missile." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cruise-missile

"cruise missile." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cruise-missile

cruise missile

cruise missile Self-propelled, guided missile that travels, generally at low altitudes, following the contours of the terrain. It has the advantage of being able to fly low enough to avoid conventional radar defences. The siting of American cruise missiles on European soil during the 1980s led to large-scale public demonstrations.

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"cruise missile." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cruise missile." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cruise-missile

"cruise missile." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cruise-missile

cruise missile

cruise missile a low-flying missile which is guided to its target by an on-board computer; the deployment of cruise missiles at the US airbase at Greenham Common, Berkshire, became the focus for continuing protest in the 1970s and 1980s.

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"cruise missile." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cruise missile." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cruise-missile

"cruise missile." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cruise-missile

cruise missile

cruise mis·sile • n. a low-flying missile that is guided to its target by an on-board computer.

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"cruise missile." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cruise missile." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cruise-missile-0

"cruise missile." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cruise-missile-0