Physics of Missile According to Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

The important technical factor that makes cruise missiles soar over rocket-powered missiles is that, as it breathes air, it does not have to carry an oxidizer and thus its range is considerably longer compared to a rocket powered missile of equal weight. The rocket powered missile is the frontrunner on all other aspects. For example it travels much faster, it can fly low, it can have lower radar cross sections, and it can have equal precision. Besides, it is not only simpler, but possibly more dependable. However the advantage of a cruise missile is much more. In order to burn its fuel, a rocket-powered missile must carry oxygen. If case it uses a hydrocarbon as its fuel, the products of combustion are carbon dioxide and water vapor. Therefore, the rocket-powered missile should be carrying sufficient oxidizer to provide 2 oxygen atoms for every atom of carbon and 1 oxygen atom for every 2 hydrogen atoms. It is important to note that the fuel for a rocket-powered missile would be weighing more than thrice which is needed for a cruise missile in order to deliver the identical energy. As one oxygen atom combines with two hydrogen atoms to form the main product of combustion i.e. water vapor, the weight advantage of not having to carry along the oxidizer is a factor of eight. This draws the fact that the use of greater exotic fuel for cruise missiles might increase their advantage compared to rocket-powered systems. (Betts, 37)

The Williams engine fitted in the class of cruise missiles presently in development is a turbofan that has a higher efficiency compared to a turbojet. It has a weight of 150 pounds, produces approximately 600 pounds thrust at the maximum and has a Specific Fuel Consumption --SFC of nearly one pound of fuel per one pound of thrust per hour. Since a cruise missile flies at comparatively low velocities, it cannot be guided inertially which the ballistic missile can. The inertial guidance shall have to be facilitated or updated while it is in flight by some correcting signal from outside the system. Guidance options are available that is able to provide superior accuracy for the delivery of strategic weapons and enough supplementary techniques for providing the precise accuracy needed for effective delivery of conventional weapons. The cruise missile has a range of several thousand miles with a potential to deliver payload in a more efficient manner compared to a rocket-powered missile. However, it must fly at a lower speed as beyond Mach 0.8 its benefits plummets. As regards navigational accuracy and radar cross section is concerned, it has a great utility as a military weapon. (Betts, 41)

One of the distinctive characteristic or cruise missiles is their accurate guidance system. The verity that the force of an explosive diminishes to a great extent with the distance from the detonation implies that with comparatively small explosive warheads, cruise missiles must arrive very close to their target. Global Positioning System -- GPS is responsible for the breathtaking accuracy and precision that the present day cruise missile is having. The precision levels of the missiles are so high which is close to few feet. Cruise missiles loaded with GPS are possibly guided to their targets with position updates in a constant manner. For instance, a cruise missile having a high quality inertial guidance system having a drift rate of 0.1 degree per hour would generate a guidance fault which is equal to 580 feet over a distance of 250 miles at a velocity of 50 miles per hour. if, on the other hand, this system received an update from the state of the art GPS system at 50 miles from the target, the margin of error could be minimized to 23 feet. (Spolders, 8)

An additional benefit of GPS is the capability to find out the position of targets with higher precision. Prior to the starting of hostilities, a potential enemy at scanty risk or no expenses could dispatch agents equipped with GPS receivers and laser range finders into adjacent nations to find out the precise GPS coordinates of potential targets. Whereas this method is restricted to non-relocatable fixed targets, it is possible to accurately locate a number of critical targets, inclusive of ports, airfield etc. Since technological innovation has heightened the speed and precision of cruise missiles, it has raised the military potential of cruise missiles. At the core of this technological innovation is the development of digital control systems which in concert with the huge progression in computer processing power, allow a lot of states to initiate flight control systems for cruise missiles which are extremely accurate. Due to this, cruise missile at present possesses increased intensity of lethality which was the sole reserve of manned aircraft. (Spolders, 8-9)


Exhibit -- I

An Exocet missile fired from a land-based launcher

Sardine Missiles fired from a naval warship

Moskit Missile

The above appendix retrieved from the below reference:

N.A. Missiles. The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, the University of Texas at Austin. 2008.


Betts, Richard K. Cruise Missiles.

Brookings Inst Pr. 1982.

Brain, Marshall. How Cruise Missile Works. 2009.

N.A. Missiles. The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, the

University of Texas at Austin. 2008.

N.A. Physics of Ballistic Missiles. 2009.

Spolders, Erwin. How a Cruise Missile…

Cite This Thesis:

"Physics Of Missile According To" (2009, April 11) Retrieved February 20, 2018, from

"Physics Of Missile According To" 11 April 2009. Web.20 February. 2018. <>

"Physics Of Missile According To", 11 April 2009, Accessed.20 February. 2018,