From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
surface-to-air missiles, one
of the most widely deployed SAM systems in the world
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.
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
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.