How do missiles successfully hit an air target despite the fact that nearly all Military aircraft are equipped with countermeasures.

Heat Seeker/Infrared missiles : IR Flares as countermeasure

Radar guided missile : Chaff dispersal as countermeasure

Laser guided missile : Flood Laser to blind missile as countermeasure

Which guidence system has most probability in hitting the target even when enemy deploys countermeasures, is there any guidence systems known which don't have a countermeasure?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about weapons and weapons detection, not aviation. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Dec 12, 2015 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ So where should such questions be posted , please advise? $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2015 at 6:27

1 Answer 1


Basically, the missiles are engaged in a (deadly) game with the aircraft every time a missile is fired. All countermeasures are based on 'confusing' the missile homing systems to a certain extent, usually in the terminal stage. Missiles (or AD systems in general), use a number of methods to overcome this.

The general term for overcoming the countermeasures used by the aircraft is called counter-counter measure (CCM); in case of electronic warfare, electronic counter-counter measure (ECCM) is used.

  • In case of IR missiles, the aircraft should first know it is being targeted. The usual method is to use a Missile Approach Warning Sensor (MAWS), which detects the missile plume. However, this is not a foolproof method. As far as IR missiles are concerned, the target is usually unaware of the missile lock. The problem with laser guided short range missiles is also quite similar.

  • A number of newer missiles have dual/multi mode seekers (like IR/UV in Stinger), which helps it differentiate better between the target and decoy. Though decoys can mimic the target in one band (for e.g. IR), it cannot mimic in both the bands (flares have different UV signatures compared to the aircraft).

  • The missiles can be programmed to ignore the decoy (for e.g chaff) and lock only onto the target signature (rather than locking on to the strongest signal return).

  • The missiles can differentiate between the target and decoy using the differences in their trajectory.

  • The missile can discriminate between the target and decoy by using a higher resolution seeker.

It is quite difficult to have a system that couldn't be fooled. Though a video/TV guided missile would come quite close, it is quite impractical in real world. Some laser guided missiles are touted as 'unjammable', but this claim is questionable. Best option is to have a multi-mode seeker that locks onto the target in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, though this would make the missile too expensive (again, countermeasures are possible).

  • $\begingroup$ so in a nutshell its never certain if either CM or CCM would work. "As far as IR missiles are concerned, the target is usually unaware of the missile lock" But once launched it should be picked up due to its speed and small size as signature? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2015 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ @user1062760 Yes. There is never 100% certainty that some method is going to work in aerial warfare. IR missiles are passive i.e. they don't emit any radiation (like radar guided missiles). If the IR missile is launched from the aircraft rear (a tail chase engagement), the pilot will never know the missile has been launched unless the MAWS picks it up. Yes, once the missile has been launched, MAWS should be able to pick it up, theoretically. $\endgroup$
    – aeroalias
    Dec 12, 2015 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ A missile which uses image correlation guidance, like the AGM 65 Maverick, cannot easily be jammed, although the target may be obscured by smoke or obstacles after launch. $\endgroup$ Mar 23, 2018 at 21:33

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