Anti-Aircraft MissileA surface-to-air missile (SAM) or ground-to-air missile (GTAM) is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft. It is one type of anti-aircraft system.
Surface-to-air missiles are classified by their guidance, mobility, altitude and range.
Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) are the smallest of SAMs and are capable of being carried and launched by a single person and thus suitable for local air defence, such as against attack helicopters. They are sometimes attached to vehicles in order to increase their mobility. Generally, MANPADS have a range of around five kilometres (three miles). Soviet MANPADS have been exported around the world and can still be found in many of their former client states. Other nations have developed their own MANPADS.
Larger land-based SAM's can be deployed from fixed installations or mobile launchers. In the case of mobile launchers, they are either wheeled or tracked. The tracked vehicles are usually armored vehicles specifically designed to carry SAMs. Larger SAMs may be deployed in fixed launchers, but can be towed/re-deployed at will. The range of mobile SAMs varies greatly, from just over a dozen to several hundred kilometres. For example, the Russian S-400 has a claimed range of 400 km.
Ship-based SAMs are also considered surface-to-air. Virtually all surface warships can be armed with SAMs. In fact, naval SAMs are a necessity for all front-line surface warships. Some warship types specialize in anti-air warfare e.g. Ticonderoga-class cruisers equipped with the Aegis combat system or Kirov class cruisers with the S-300PMU Favorite missile system.
An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles (a missile for missile defense). A ballistic missile is used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" describes any antimissile system designed to counter ballistic missiles. However the term is used more commonly for ABM systems designed to counter long range, nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Like most missiles, the Arrow missile, S-300, S-400 and MIM-104 Patriot are for defense against short-range missiles and carry explosive warheads.
However, in the case of a large closing speed, a projectile without explosives is used, just a collision is sufficient to destroy the target. See Missile Defense Agency for the following systems being developed:
- Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI)
- Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD) - a SM-3 missile with Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile (LEAP) Kinetic Warhead (KW)