Missile System and Classification: Defence


 A missile is an intelligent unmanned rocket designed to carry the payload to a designated point with an aim of destroying the object/target. The missile is designed keeping in mind its target, trajectory, warhead, range, velocity and launch platform.

Missile vs Rocket
A powered, guided munition that travels through the air or space known as a missile (or guided missile). A powered, unguided munition is known as a rocket. Unpowered munitions not fired from a gun are called bombs whether guided or not; unpowered, guided munitions are known as guided bombs or smart bombs.

How does Missile Work?
Propulsion System – The propulsion system in a missile is required to achieve terminal conditions like range, speed and warhead carrying capability. The missile is propelled either by rockets or jet engines using solid or liquid fuel. Some missiles use hybrid technology for propelling it to its intended point.

Guidance System – The function of the guidance system is to maintain the missile in its desired flight path by using altitude control mechanism. This is done by controlling the pitch, roll and yaw of the weapon. The guidance system operates as an auto­pilot, damping out fluctuations that tend to deflect the missile from its intended flight path.In some missiles, the guidance commands are generated internally by the missile’s computer. In others, the commands are transmitted to the weapon by some external source.The guidance for the missiles is provided by GPS, Inertial guidance system, lasers, TV, Infra-red and radar. Sometimes a combination of two or more systems can be used to provide precision guidance and targeting to the missile.

Aerodynamics Features – The aerodynamic features of a missile, also called Cont Rolling Surf Aces, are used to control the Missile’s Flight. The fins, wings and tail are the three major aerodynamic control surf aces used to steer the missile. The missile’s course can be altered by moving these controlling surfaces.

Terminal Guidance – In case of precision weapons, the target seeker comes into picture when the missile starts detecting its target. The mechanism also works to determine the time of activating the warhead. After finding out the target, the device sends an electrical impulse to trigger the activation system. The target seeker is based either on radar or Infra­Red (IR) or laser devices.

Warhead – The warhead of a missile is selected keeping in mind its target type. It inflicts damage on the target and hence determines the missile’s let hality. An optimum position of burst is used to achieve the desired effect on the target limits – the closer the burst to the target, the smaller the warhead needed.In other cases where the missile is required to cause destruction on hard targets, before detonation of warhead, penetration is achieved by employing a variety of technologies.

Propulsion Systems
Solid Propulsion: Solid fuel is used in solid propulsion. Generally, the fuel is aluminium powder. Solid propulsion has the advantage of being easily stored and can be handled in fuelled condition. It can reach very high speeds quickly. Its simplicity also makes it a good choice whenever large amount of thrust is needed.

Liquid Propulsion: The liquid propulsion technology uses liquid as fuel. The fuels are hydrocarbons. The storage of missile with liquid fuel is difficult and complex. In addition, preparation of missile takes considerable time. In liquid propulsion, propulsion can be controlled easily by restricting the fuel flow by using valves and it can also be controlled even under emergency conditions. Basically, liquid fuel gives high specific impulse as compared to solid fuel.

Hybrid Propulsion: There are 2 stages in hybrid propulsion ­ solid propulsion and liquid propulsion. This kind of propulsion compensates the disadvantages of both propulsion systems and has the combined advantages of the 2 propulsion systems.

Ramjet: A Ramjet engine does not have any turbines unlike turbojet engines. It achieves compression of intake air just by the forward speed of the air vehicle. The fuel is injected and ignited. The expansion of hot gases after fuel injection and combustion accelerates the exhaust air to a velocity higher than that at the inlet and creates positive push. However, the air entering the engine should be at supersonic speeds. So, the aerial vehicle must be moving in supersonic speeds. Ramjet engines cannot propel an aerial vehicle from zero to supersonic speeds.

Scramjet: Scramjet is an acronym for Supersonic Combustion Ramjet. The difference between Scramjet and Ramjet is that the combustion takes place at supersonic air velocities through the engine. It is mechanically simple, but vastly more complex aerodynamically than a jet engine. Hydrogen is normally the fuel used.

Cryogenic: Cryogenic propellants are liquefied gases stored at very low temperatures, most frequently liquid hydrogen as the fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer. Cryogenic propellants require special insulated containers and vents which allow gas to escape from the evaporating liquids. The liquid fuel and oxidizer are pumped from the storage tanks to an expansion chamber and injected into the combustion chamber where they are mixed and ignited by a flame or spark. The fuel expands as it burns and the hot exhaust gases are directed out of the nozzle to provide thrust.

Launch Platforms
• Aircraft
• Ground Vehicles
• Ships
• Submarines

Speed
SUBSONIC – speed less than that of sound.
SUPERSONIC – speed greater than that of sound.
HYPERSONIC – speeds of more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5).

Stealth Technology
• Stealth technology also termed LO technology (low observable technology) is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive electronic countermeasures, which cover a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, missiles and satellites to make them less visible to radar, infrared,sonar and other detection methods. It corresponds to military camouflage for these parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (Multi-spectral camouflage).

• In simple terms, stealth technology allows an object to be partially invisible to Radar or any other means of detection. This doesn’t allow the object to be fully invisible on radar. All it can do is to reduce the detection range or an object or enemy platform. This is similar to the camouflage tactics used by soldiers in jungle warfare. Unless the soldier comes near you, you can’t see him. Though this gives a clear and safe striking distance for the objects using it, there is still a threat from radar systems, which can detect stealth platforms.

A missile is an intelligent unmanned rocket designed to carry the payload to a designated point with an aim of destroying the object/target. The missile is designed keeping in mind its target, trajectory, warhead, range, velocity and launch platform.

On the basis of Type

Cruise Missile: A cruise missile is an unmanned self­propelled (till the time of impact) guided vehicle that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift for most of its flight path and whose primary mission is to place an ordnance or special payload on a target. They fly within the earth’s atmosphere and use jet engine technology. These vehicles vary greatly in their speed and ability to penetrate defences.Cruise missiles can be categorised by size, speed (subsonic or supersonic), range and whether launched from land, air, surface ship or submarine. Depending upon the speed such missiles are classified as:

Subsonic cruise missile: It flies at a speed lesser than that of sound. It travels at a speed of around 0.8 Mach. The well-known subsonic missile is the American Tomahawk cruise missile. Some other examples are Harpoon of USA and Exocet of France.

Supersonic cruise missile: Supersonic cruise missile travels at a speed of around 2­3 Mach i.e. it travels a kilometre approximately in a second. The modular design of the missile and its capability of being launched at different orientations enable it to be integrated with a wide spectrum of platforms like warships, submarines, different types of aircraft, mobile autonomous launchers and silos. The combination of supersonic speed and warhead mass provides high kinetic energy ensuring tremendous lethal effect. BRAHMOS is the only known versatile supersonic cruise missile system which is in service.

Hypersonic cruise missile: Hypersonic cruise missile travels at a speed of more than 5 Mach. Many countries are working to develop hypersonic cruise missiles. BrahMos Aerospace is also in the process of developing a hypersonic cruise missile, BRAHMOS­II, which would fly at a speed greater than 5 Mach.

Ballistic Missile: A ballistic missile is a missile that has a ballistic trajectory over most of its flight path, regardless of whether or not it is a weapon­delivery vehicle. Ballistic missiles are categorized according to their range, maximum distance measured along the surface of earth’s ellipsoid from the point of launch to the point of impact of the last element of their payload. The missile carries a huge payload. The carriage of a deadly warhead is justified by the distance the missile travels. Ballistic missiles can be launched from ships and land based facilities. For example, Prithvi I, Prithvi II, Agni I, Agni II and Dhanush ballistic missiles are currently operational in the Indian defense forces.

On the basis of Launch Mode

Surface-to-Surface Missile: A surface-to-surface missile is a guided projectile launched from a hand­held, vehicle mounted, trailer mounted or fixed installation. It is often powered by a rocket motor or sometimes fired by an explosive charge since the launch platform is stationary.

Surface-to-Air Missile: A surface-to-air missile is designed for launch from the ground to destroy aerial targets like aircrafts, helicopters and even ballistic missiles. These missiles are generally called air defence systems as they defend any aerial attacks by the enemy.

Surface (Coast)-to-Sea Missile: A surface (coast)-to-sea missile is designed to be launched from land to ship in the sea as targets.

Air-to-Air Missile: An air-to-air missile is launched from an aircraft to destroy the enemy aircraft. The missile flies at a speed of 4 Mach.

Air-to-Surface Missile: An air-to-surface missile is designed for launch from military aircraft and strikes ground targets on land, at sea or both. The missiles are basically guided via laser guidance, infrared guidance and optical guidance or via GPS signals. The type of guidance depends on the type of target.

Sea-to-Sea Missile: A sea-to-sea missile is designed for launch from one ship to another ship.

Sea-to-Surface (Coast) Missile: A sea-to-surface missile is designed for launch from ship to land based targets.

Anti-Tank Missile: An anti-tank missile is a guided missile primarily designed to hit and destroy heavily­armoured tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles. Anti­tank missiles could be launched from aircraft, helicopters, tanks and also from shoulder mounted launcher.

On the basis of Range

This type of classification is based on maximum range achieved by the missiles. The basic classification is as follows:

• Short Range Missile
• Medium Range Missile
• Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile
• Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

On the basis of Propulsion

Solid Propulsion: Solid fuel is used in solid propulsion. Generally, the fuel is aluminium powder. Solid propulsion has the advantage of being easily stored and can be handled in fuelled condition. It can reach very high speeds quickly. Its simplicity also makes it a good choice whenever large amount of thrust is needed.

Liquid Propulsion: The liquid propulsion technology uses liquid as fuel. The fuels are hydrocarbons. The storage of missile with liquid fuel is difficult and complex. In addition, preparation of missile takes considerable time. In liquid propulsion, propulsion can be controlled easily by restricting the fuel flow by using valves and it can also be controlled even under emergency conditions. Basically, liquid fuel gives high specific impulse as compared to solid fuel.

Hybrid Propulsion: There are 2 stages in hybrid propulsion ­ solid propulsion and liquid propulsion. This kind of propulsion compensates the disadvantages of both propulsion systems and has the combined advantages of the 2 propulsion systems.

Ramjet: A Ramjet engine does not have any turbines unlike turbojet engines. It achieves compression of intake air just by the forward speed of the air vehicle. The fuel is injected and ignited. The expansion of hot gases after fuel injection and combustion accelerates the exhaust air to a velocity higher than that at the inlet and creates positive push. However, the air entering the engine should be at supersonic speeds. So, the aerial vehicle must be moving in supersonic speeds. Ramjet engines cannot propel an aerial vehicle from zero to supersonic speeds.

Scramjet: Scramjet is an acronym for Supersonic Combustion Ramjet. The difference between Scramjet and Ramjet is that the combustion takes place at supersonic air velocities through the engine. It is mechanically simple, but vastly more complex aerodynamically than a jet engine. Hydrogen is normally the fuel used.

Cryogenic: Cryogenic propellants are liquefied gases stored at very low temperatures, most frequently liquid hydrogen as the fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer. Cryogenic propellants require special insulated containers and vents which allow gas to escape from the evaporating liquids. The liquid fuel and oxidizer are pumped from the storage tanks to an expansion chamber and injected into the combustion chamber where they are mixed and ignited by a flame or spark. The fuel expands as it burns and the hot exhaust gases are directed out of the nozzle to provide thrust.


 

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