Tomahawk cruise missiles that frequently appear in the news because they are the U.S. favorite weapon for a variety of quick hit operations. With all of the missiles in the U.S. army, have you ever wondered why cruise missiles seem to be used often?
A Cruise Missile Escorted By An F-14
A cruise missile is basically a small, pilotless airplane. Cruise missiles have 2.61-meter wings, have turbofan jet engines and can fly 805 to 1,610 km depending on the situation.
A cruise missile’s job in life is to send a 450-kg high-explosive bomb to an exact location — the target. The missile is destroyed when the bomb explodes. Because cruise missiles cost between $500,000 and $1,000,000 each, it’s a fairly expensive way to deliver a 1,000-pound package.
Cruise missiles come in a number of different forms and can be used from submarines, or aircraft or other war vehicles.When you hear about hundreds of cruise missiles used at war, they are almost always Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Cruise missiles are 6.25 meters long and 0.52 meters thick. At the beginning of their trip, they weigh 1450 kg. The engine weighs just 65 kg and the fuel is 600 liters.
The importance of a cruise missile is its incredible ability to hit any location hungered of miles away. A common sentence about the cruise missile is, “It can fly 1,000 miles and hit a target the size of a single-car garage.” Cruise missiles are also very useful for attacking the enemy because they fly very low to the ground: out of the view of most radar systems.
Four different systems help a cruise missile to find its way and its target:
– Inertial Guidance System
– Terrain Contour Matching
– Global Positioning System
– Digital Scene(picture) Matching Area Correlation
The IGS is a standard system that can keep track of where the missile is according to the missile’s movements.
Tercom uses an on-board 3-D database of the ups and downs of the geographical area that the missile will be flying over. The Tercom system “sees” the geographical area by using its radar system and matches this with the 3-D map stored in its memory to find the way. It is for the time that the missile needs to be moving very close to the ground.
The GPS system uses the army’s network of GPS satellites and an onboard GPS receiver to find its position very exactly.
When it is close to the target, the missile switches to a “terminal guidance system” to choose the exact point for attack. This point can be pre-programmed by the GPS or Tercom system.
The DSMAC system uses a camera and an image matching system to find the target, and is especially useful if the target is moving like a car. This system helps the missile to have the ability of standing by around an area for some hours until the commanders locate a new target for it !
A cruise missile can also be equipped with temperature sensors or laser sensors