Surface to Surface (Air to Surface) Missile


A surface-to-surface missile (ground-to-ground missile, SSM or GTGM) is a guided projectile launched from a hand-held, vehicle mounted, trailer mounted or fixed installation or from a ship. They are often powered by a rocket motor or sometimes fired by an explosive charge, since the launching platform is typically stationary or moving slowly. They usually have fins and/or wings for lift and stability, although hyper-velocity or short-ranged missiles may utilise body lift or fly a ballistic trajectory. The Fieseler Fi 103 (also known as the "V1") was the first surface-to-surface missile.

Contemporary surface-to-surface missiles are usually guided. An unguided surface-to-surface missile is usually referred to as a rocket (for example, an RPG-7 or M72 LAW is an anti-tank rocket whereas a BGM-71 TOW or AT-2 Swatter is an anti-tank guided missile).

Surface-to-surface missiles are usually broken down into a number of categories:

  • Ballistic missiles travel in a high trajectory, motor burns out partway through flight
    • Tactical ballistic missile: Range between about 150 km to 300 km
      • Battlefield range ballistic missile (BRBM): Range less than 200 km
    • Theatre ballistic missile (TBM): Range between 300 km to 3500 km
      • Short-range ballistic missile (SRBM): Range 1000 km or less
      • Medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM): Range between 1000 km to 3500 km
    • Intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) or Long-range ballistic missile (LRBM): Range between 3500 km and 5500 km
    • Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM): Range greater than 5500 km
    • Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM): Launched from ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), all current designs have intercontinental range.
  • Cruise missiles travel low to the ground, motor burns during entire flight, typical range 2,500 km (1,500 mi)
  • Anti-tank guided missiles travel low to the ground, may or may not burn motor throughout flight, typical range 5 km (3 mi)
  • Anti-ship missiles travel low over the ground and sea, often pop up or jink before striking ship, typical range 130 km (80 mi)
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