Missile defense

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While the terms ballistic missile defense and anti-ballistic missile are commonly heard, the reality is that they are subsets of missile defense. Not all incoming weapons are ballistic; cruise missiles, whether tactical or strategic, present a very different defensive problem than ballistic missiles. Defenders faced with simultaneous ballistic and cruise missile attacks have a much more complex task.

"Missile" does not necessarily mean guided, even to the extent of ballistic missile initial and midcourse guidance. Counter-artillery, rocket and mortar (C-RAM) warfare is becoming increasingly practical and important.

Not all kill mechanisms, even against ballistic missiles, are themselves missiles. Directed energy weapons, principally infrared lasers at present, are in active development and limited tactical use. Autocannon have long been used for shipboard point defense, but have now moved to C-RAM, and still might have specialized use for point defense against ballistic missiles.

Sensors and computing are a huge part of missile defense.

This is primarily a "capstone" or "core" article; the related article subpage provides the key information.