103 votes
Accepted

How do conventional missiles fly?

Air-to-Air guided missiles are little airplanes. If there are only fins at the tail, it's a ballistic rocket, basically a fin stabilized artillery shell accelerated by a rocket motor instead of an ...
user avatar
  • 103k
43 votes
Accepted

How are anti-aircraft missiles tested?

The short answer is that the final qualification tests are done against drones like the QF-4, which are converted from retired F-4 fighters. These tests are still extremely expensive, into the ...
user avatar
  • 1,388
39 votes
Accepted

Propulsion method for MANPADS missiles

Missiles like a LAWS or Stinger use solid rocket motors. Despite liquid fuel being preferred for space launchers, for a MANPADS type missile the combination of storability, inertness in transport, low ...
user avatar
  • 14.3k
38 votes

Can a civilian aircraft pilot see a missile coming?

Visual detection To take one example, a vehicle-launched ground to air missile system (e.g. the SA-11) that can reach the cruising altitude of airliners travels at several thousand miles per hour and ...
user avatar
36 votes
Accepted

What's this black rectangle painted on the side of a V-1 flying bomb?

A "Pallung" is a piece of wood (or something similar) that prevents ships (or something similar) from falling over when they are on land. "abstellen" means to put something down (...
user avatar
  • 496
34 votes
Accepted

Could a SR-71 be shot down today?

Could SR-71 be shot down today? Theoretically yes. Modern day SAMs like the 40N6 that travel at speeds of Mach 6 can intercept an SR 71 within an operational range of 250 miles upto an altitude of 18 ...
user avatar
  • 3,530
33 votes

How are cruise missiles different from ballistic missiles?

A cruise missile is rocket or jet powered and flies to its target within the atmosphere, using lift to stay up. Most have wings, although a few may use lifting body designs. They maneuver using ...
user avatar
  • 49.1k
31 votes
Accepted

Can a missile be fired when a fighter jet is inverted?

The combat advantage of fighters (as opposed to heavier-payload bombers) is their maneuverability, therefore a missile delivery restriction such as g-limit (think Sidewinder heat-seeker in a dogfight) ...
user avatar
31 votes

Do missiles need anti-icing?

In a history of NASA's Icing Research Tunnel, "We Freeze to Please," NASA SP-2002-4226, Fig. 5-2 shows Hellfire missiles being tested. But it conspicuously mentions nothing about de-icing ...
user avatar
26 votes

How are anti-aircraft missiles tested?

A large part of the complexity of any missile is in propulsion and guidance. The warhead isn't trivial, but in comparison that's not the hardest part. This means that in testing, you can often replace ...
user avatar
  • 1,838
25 votes
Accepted

How do internally carried IR missiles acquire a lock?

If you are referring to the Sidewinder missile, the first iteration AIM-9X did not have a requirement to be launched from internal stores, known as captive carry, but in testing it demonstrated that ...
user avatar
  • 11.2k
25 votes
Accepted

How do missiles steer (mainly air to surface)?

Take a look at the following image. What do you see? The Fins, Wings, and Canards, as seen in the diagram, work in a similar fashion to rudders/elevators/ailerons to develop drag to yaw/pitch/roll ...
user avatar
  • 1,253
24 votes
Accepted

Why do heavy bombers not carry air-to-air missiles?

Well, actually, they do. Or at least it has been proposed on several occasions. The ill-fated A-12 stealth attack aircraft was going to carry 2 x AIM-120 AMRAAMs as part of its defensive package ...
user avatar
24 votes

What's this black rectangle painted on the side of a V-1 flying bomb?

abstellen is "to cut off / shut down." That's one meaning of the word, what we need here is "putting down", "parking" or "putting in storage". I don't know ...
user avatar
  • 607
23 votes
Accepted

How can you stop your missile locking onto a friendly target?

First off, very rarely will you shoot at an unidentified aircraft. Most engagements require a visual ID, or a hostile action, prior to engagement. However, you will also program your aircraft with ...
user avatar
  • 8,498
23 votes
Accepted

How are cruise missiles different from ballistic missiles?

Cruise Missile : Uses thrust for the whole trajectory Uses aerodynamic forces by moving control surfaces to move. May use thrust vectoring Ballistic Missile: Uses thrust to reach very high altitude....
user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

Can anti-radiation missiles be used to target stealth fighter aircraft?

There are many anti-radiation missiles in many arsenals, they are designed for air to ground missions, attacking surface to air missile radars from a long distance. I don't know whether it would be ...
user avatar
  • 49.1k
23 votes

How do missiles navigate and determine their orientation without GPS?

As per comments, this question is referring to guided weapons such as Stinger (IR guidance). Guided missiles that acquire their target via signal return, such as infrared, radar or laser designation (...
user avatar
  • 20.7k
22 votes

Why don't airliners carry radar jamming technology or missile counter measures?

Surface-to-air missile attacks on airliners at cruising altitude are vanishingly rare: there have only been three known attacks in the past half-century (MH-17, IR-655, and probably S7-1812). Any ...
user avatar
  • 4,684
22 votes

How do conventional missiles fly?

The missile's wings are very large for it's mass, and produce a great deal more lift than the wings of the aircraft firing the missile. One thing to note from the OP's linked video is that the F-35 ...
user avatar
  • 6,197
21 votes
Accepted

Why don't airliners carry radar jamming technology or missile counter measures?

El Al (and other Israeli) aircraft are equipped with infra-red countermeasures since fire at Arkira B757 in Mombasa in 2002. Infra-red counter-measures are relatively simple (it has a small radar to ...
user avatar
  • 54.1k
20 votes

How do combat jets know when to launch flares to counter IR missiles?

Actually most aircraft don't actively know when a missile is being fired at them. I have worked on helicopters and fighters that deploy counter measures. The first is an IR jammer which we call a ...
user avatar
  • 829
20 votes

How do conventional missiles fly?

In the video you posted, the missile appears to continue falling even after the motor ignites -- you can see the missile start to overtake the aircraft even as it continues to drop: By the last ...
user avatar
  • 671
18 votes
Accepted

How does the Guardian counter-MANPADS system work?

I have worked on and designed DIRCM systems. Most of the technical specifications on these systems is classified. Also, the U.S. is not the only country with DIRCM systems. In particular, Israel is ...
user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Can jet fighter missiles descend or ascend?

Yes, they can. Air-to-Air or Air-to-Ground missiles are often equipped with little fins that allow certain maneuverability or also with thrust vectoring. (Image Source: WikiPedia - Author: USAF) (...
user avatar
  • 15.5k
15 votes

Can anti-radiation missiles be used to target stealth fighter aircraft?

If the stealth aircraft's radar were continually transmitting, then, yes, the other stealth features would be completely useless, and missiles would easily home in on them and shoot them down. Which ...
user avatar
15 votes

Propulsion method for MANPADS missiles

Most shoulder-fired missiles, whether anti-tank or anti-aircraft, are actually two-stage rockets. The first stage is a very fast-burning motor, designed to burn out before the missile exits the launch ...
user avatar
  • 151
14 votes

Can a civilian aircraft pilot see a missile coming?

This recent article on CNN is very informative and covers most of what you're discussing. In brief, commercial aircraft don't have any reasonable means to detect an incoming missile, which is likely ...
user avatar
  • 28.3k
14 votes

How are cruise missiles different from ballistic missiles?

Cruise missiles have rocket or jet engines that are powered during the entire flight. It allows the missile to cruise low through the atmosphere, sometimes just above ground level. Lift and guidance ...
user avatar
  • 74.2k
14 votes

How did a Soviet SA-3 missile manage to shoot down the F-117 Nighthawk?

"Stealth" does not mean invisible. In fact, there are photographs of F-117s, so clearly, they are visible. Stealth means less observable than a comparable non-stealth design. A stealth aircraft still ...
user avatar

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible