A Cruise Missile is a guided missile that flies with constant speed to deliver a warhead at specified target over long distance with high accuracy. A Ballistic Missile is lift off directly into the high layers of the earth’s atmosphere.
- A cruise missile is a guided missile (target has to be pre-set) used against terrestrial targets.
- It remains in the atmosphere throughout its flight.
- It flies the major portion of its flight path at approximately constant speed.
- Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high precision.
- Modern cruise missiles are capable of travelling at supersonic or high subsonic speeds, are self-navigating, and are able to fly on a non-ballistic, extremely low-altitude trajectory.
Types of cruise missiles based on speed
- Hypersonic (Mach 5): These missiles would travel at least five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). E.g. BrahMos-II.
- Supersonic (Mach 2-3): These missiles travel faster than the speed of sound. E.g. BrahMos.
- Subsonic (Mach 0.8): These missiles travel slower than the speed of sound. E.g. Nirbhay.
- A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target.
- A ballistic trajectory is the path of an object that is lift of but has no active propulsion during its actual flight (these weapons are guided only during relatively brief periods of flight).
- Consequently, the trajectory is fully determined by a given initial velocity, effects of gravity, air resistance, and motion of the earth (Coriolis Force).
- Shorter range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth’s atmosphere.
- Long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), are lift off on a sub-orbital flight trajectory and spend most of their flight out of the atmosphere.
Also read: petaFLOP Supercomputers
Types of ballistic missiles based on the range
- Short-range (tactical) ballistic missile (SRBM): Range between 300 km and 1,000 km.
- Medium-range (theatre) ballistic missile (MRBM): 1,000 km to 3,500 km.
- Intermediate-range (Long-Range) ballistic missile (IRBM or LRBM): 3,500 km and 5,500 km.
- Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM): 5,500 km +
How Cruise missiles different from Ballistic Missiles?
Cruise missiles are unmanned vehicles that are propelled by jet engines, much like an airplane. They can be lift off from ground, air, sea or submarine platforms. Cruise missiles remain within the atmosphere for the duration of their flight and can fly as low as a few meters off the ground. Flying low to the surface of the earth expends more fuel but makes a cruise missile very difficult to detect. Cruise missiles are self-guided and use multiple methods to accurately deliver their payload, including terrain mapping, global positioning systems (GPS) and inertial guidance.
Cruise Missiles vs Ballistic Missiles,Cruise Missiles vs Ballistic Missiles,Cruise Missiles vs Ballistic Missiles
Also Read: Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet Technology