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Intercontinental ballistic missile
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Intercontinental ballistic missile

missile soars after a test launch.]]

An Intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is a long-range missiles using a ballistic trajectory involving a significant ascent and descent, including suborbital and partial orbital trajectories. An ICBM differs little technically from other ballistic missiles such as the IRBM, SRBM or newly named theatre ballistic missile; they are differentiated by way of maximum range. The maximum range of ICBMs is addressed by arms control agreements, which prohibit orbital or fractional-orbital weapons. Only three nations currently have operational ICBM systems: the United States, Russia, and the People's Republic of China, although North Korea is believed to be developing an ICBM system.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Modern ICBMs
3 Specific missiles
4 Ballistic missile submarines
5 See also

History

Early ICBMs formed the basis of many space launch systems. Examples include: Atlas, Delta, Redstone_rocket, Titan, R-7, and Proton. Modern ICBMs tend to be smaller than their ancestors (due to increased accuracy and smaller and lighter warheads) and use solid fuels, making them less useful as orbital launch vehicles.

Modern ICBMs

Modern ICBMs typically carry multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), each of which carries a separate nuclear warhead, allowing a single missile to hit multiple targets. MIRV was an outgrowth of the rapidly shrinking size and weight of modern warheads and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties which imposed limitations on the number of launch vehicles(SALT_I and SALT_II). It has also proved to be an "easy answer" to proposed deployments of ABM systems – it is far less expensive to add more warheads to an existing missile system than to build an ABM system capable of shooting down the additional warheads; hence, most ABM system proposals have been judged to be impractical, and have never been deployed.

ICBM Underground Silo Complex includes a network of tunnels connecting multiple silos to subterranian control and communications facilities.]]

Modern ICBMs tend to use solid fuel, which can be stored easily for long periods of time. Liquid-fueled ICBMs were generally not kept fueled all the time, and therefore fueling the rocket was necessary before a launch. ICBMs are based either in missile silos, which offer some protection from military attack (including, the designers hope, some protection from a nuclear first strike), or on submarines or rail cars, which are mobile and therefore hard to find.

The low flying, guided cruise missile is an alternative to ballistic missiles.

Specific missiles

US

Specific types of US ballistic missiles include:

Soviet/Russian

Specific types of Soviet/Russian ICBMs include:

Ballistic missile submarines

Specific types of
ballistic missile submarines include:

See also


List of missiles
Air-to-air missile (AAM) | Surface-to-air missile (SAM) | Cruise missile | Anti-ship missile (AShM) | Anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) | Wire-guided missile
Ballistic missile | Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) | Submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) | Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) | Anti-satellite weapon

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