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Surface-to-air missile: Wikis

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SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missiles, one of the most widely deployed SAM systems in the world
Starstreak laser guided surface to air missile of the British Army.

A Surface to Air Missile (SAM) or ground-to-air missile (GTAM) is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft. Development of surface-to-air missiles began in Nazi Germany (hard pressed by Allied air superiority) during late World War II with missiles such as the Wasserfall though no working system was deployed before the war's end. It is one part of the anti-aircraft system. Surface to air missiles are classified by their guidance, mobility, altitude and range.

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General information

Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) are the smallest of SAMs and are capable of being carried and launched by a single person. They are sometimes attached to vehicles in order to increase their mobility. Soviet MANPADS have been exported around the world and can still be found in many of their former client states. Other nations have developed their own MANPADS.

Larger land-based SAM's can be deployed from fixed installations or mobile launchers. In the case of mobile launchers, they are either revealed or tracked. The tracked vehicles are usually armored vehicles specifically designed to carry SAMs. Larger SAMs may be deployed in fixed launchers, but can be towed/re-deployed at will.

Ship-based SAMs are also considered surface to air. Virtually all surface warships can be armed with SAMs. In fact, naval SAMs are a necessity for all front-line surface warships. Some warship types specialist in anti-air warfare e.g. Ticonderoga-class cruisers equipped with the Aegis combat system or Kirov class cruisers with the S-300PMU Favorite missile system.

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Target acquisition

Targets for non-ManPAD SAMs will usually be acquired by air-search radar, then tracked before/while a SAM is "locked-on" and then fired. Potential targets, if they are military aircraft, will be identified as friend or foe before being engaged.

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External links


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