Nuclear Missile Clip Art

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Early ballistic missiles carried a single warhead, often of megaton-range yield. Because of the limited accuracy of the missiles, this kind of high yield was considered necessary in order to ensure a particular target's destruction. Since the 1970s modern ballistic weapons have seen the development of far more accurate targeting technologies, particularly due to improvements in inertial guidance systems. This set the stage for smaller warheads in the hundreds-of-kilotons-range yield, and consequently for ICBMs having multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV). Advances in technology have enabled a single missile to launch a payload containing several warheads. The number of independent warheads capable of deployment from ballistic missiles depends on the weapons platform the missile is launched from. For example, one D5 Trident missile carried by an Ohio-class submarine is capable of launching eight independent warheads, while a Typhoon has missiles capable of deploying 10 warheads at a time. MIRV has a number of advantages over a missile with a single warhead. With small additional costs, it allows a single missile to strike multiple targets, or to inflict maximum damage on a single target by attacking it with multiple warheads. It makes anti-ballistic missile defense even more difficult, and even less economically viable, than before.