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Fire and forget

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"Fire and forget" is a guidance paradigm for precision-guided munitions, in which either the desired impact point is known (i.e., go-onto-location-in-space, or the weapon can find the target without help from the launching platform. In the latter case, either the weapon will have onboard target acquisition and terminal guidance sensors, or it can a reference (e.g., laser designator spot) that is sufficient to let it find the target.

Fire and forget is especially important for aircraft and submarines that may be detected only because they launch a weapon, so they want to take evasive action immediately after firing. In air-to-air combat, for example, crews much prefer a missile with its own radar, such as the Russian Novator R-172, than one with semi-active radar homing such as the obsolete U.S. AIM-7 Sparrow. A Sparrow-shooting aircraft had to continue flying at its target aircraft, keeping the target illuminated with its onboard radar, until the missile went into final acquisition. The closer it came to the target, the more likely the target was to take most unfriendly action in response.

In practice, the term does imply a guided weapon. While unguided rockets or torpedoes neither need input after firing, nor can accept any. The launching platform has to observe if they strike, to know if more weapons need to be fired.