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Guided missile

Definition A guided missile is a self-propelled projectile that can be directed in flight and is typically used for naval or air defense systems. Its path can be controlled during flight either by radio waves, infrared, or laser signals. Guided missiles have the ability to strike a target with high precision and are used in […]


A guided missile is a self-propelled projectile that can be directed in flight and is typically used for naval or air defense systems. Its path can be controlled during flight either by radio waves, infrared, or laser signals. Guided missiles have the ability to strike a target with high precision and are used in different military operations such as ground attacks, air defense, anti-ship, and anti-submarine warfare.

Key Takeaways

  1. A “Guided Missile” refers to a self-propelled weapon, usually used in warfare, that can adjust its flight path or trajectory based on an external command or its own algorithms. This is distinct from other types of missiles, which follow a predetermined path after launch.
  2. The guidance system in a guided missile allows it to hit a specific target with precision, making them highly effective in military operations. Guidance systems can be either radio-controlled, infrared, laser-guided, or sometimes even satellite guided.
  3. There are different types of guided missiles such as air-to-air, air-to-surface, surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, anti-ship, anti-tank, etc. The type of guided missile is based on its launch platform and its intended target.


The term “guided missile” in military operations is of paramount importance as it refers to a self-propelled, unmanned weapon system that follows a path or trajectory guided by an onboard computer, remote control, or homing devices.

Its significance lies in its precision, high target accuracy, and damage-depth capabilities.

Guided missiles can be employed to target enemy aircraft, ground artillery, infrastructures, ships, and even submarines, thereby enhancing the firepower and defensive strength of a military force.

They offer the military tactical and strategic advantages, including the ability to hit targets from a distance, bypass enemy defenses, and cause extensive damage with a high degree of efficiency and reliability, which in turn can profoundly impact the outcome of a conflict.


Guided missiles are an essential part of modern military operations, designed to serve specific purposes that fundamentally rely on precise targeting and firepower. The primary purpose of a guided missile is to deliver a warhead to a designated target with extreme precision, whilst minimizing collateral damage and maximizing effectiveness. Accuracy is of utmost importance, particularly in situations where the target is either extremely small or located among civilian population or friendly forces.

To execute such accurate attacks, guided missiles can be directed by remote control or they may be automatically guided towards the target by homing devices, infrared detectors, or radar. Guided missiles have diverse applications in military operations – they can be used for air defense, anti-tank operations, naval warfare, or strategic bombings. These applications often require different types of guided missiles, depending upon their intended targets.

Some are intended to target enemy aircraft, others to destroy enemy tanks, some are used to target enemy naval vessels, and some are designed to target enemy infrastructure or command centers. This flexibility and efficiency of guided missiles have made them an indispensable part of the modern military arsenal. Whether it’s keeping enemy fighter jets at bay, disabling a fleet of enemy tanks, or launching targeted attacks against enemy infrastructure, the guided missile is an important tool that helps to maintain the balance on the battlefield.

Examples of Guided missile

Tomahawk Cruise Missiles: One of the most famous examples of guided missiles are the Tomahawk cruise missiles used by the United States military. These missiles can be launched from a ship or a submarine and they use GPS coordinates to navigate to the target. Once they are close to the target, they switch to a terminal guidance system to hit the target with high precision.

Patriot Missile Defense System: The Patriot missile defense system is another example of a guided missile. This system is primarily used to intercept enemy missiles and aircraft in mid-air. The system uses radars to track the incoming threat and guide the Patriot missile to collide with it.

Russian R-77 Air-to-Air missiles: The R-77 is a Russian medium-range, air-to-air, active radar homing guided missile system. It is also known as AA-12 Adder. This missile is intended for use as part of modern aerial warfare strategy, using fighter aircraft with guidance and tracking systems that allow the missile to receive updates about the target’s location as it travels towards it. It can be used against airplanes, helicopters, and drones within its range.

FAQs for Guided Missiles

What is a Guided Missile?

In basic terms, a guided missile is an unmanned self-propelled flying weapon usually guided by a remote control or onboard computers. They are primarily used in the military and defense sector.

What are the types of Guided Missiles?

Guided Missiles are classified into four primary types, which are: Cruise Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Anti-Tank Missiles, and Air-to-Air Missiles.

How do Guided Missiles Work?

Guided missiles work on the principle of the guidance system. After being launched, a guided missile uses its onboard sensors to track and follow its target. The sensors allow the missile to adjust its course in-flight, ensuring it hits its target with high accuracy.

Who invented the Guided Missile?

The idea of guided missiles dates back to World War II. The German V-1 missile, also known as the “buzz bomb,” is considered the first simple, guided missile.

What is the role of Guided Missiles in modern warfare?

In modern warfare, guided missiles play a crucial role due to their high precision and effectiveness. They are used in both offensive and defensive operations. Guided missiles help to neutralize enemy targets while minimizing collateral damage.

How far can Guided Missiles reach?

The range of guided missiles largely depends upon their type. While some have a relatively short range, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) can reach distances of several thousand kilometers.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Target Lock
  • Air Defense System
  • Missile Guidance System
  • Military Technology
  • Strike Accuracy

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Navy: The official website of the United States Navy provides detailed information about its arsenal, including guided missiles.
  • U.S. Air Force: The official website of the United States Air Force offers comprehensive information on air weaponry, including guided missiles.
  • Lockheed Martin: As a global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technologies company, Lockheed Martin’s official website provides information on their missile systems, including guided missiles.
  • Britannica: Britannica Online Encyclopedia is a trusted source for information on a broad range of topics, including guided missiles.

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