ICBM - Inter Continental Ballistic Missile

What is an ICBM?

ICBM is the acronym for an Inter Continental Ballistic Missile. As the name suggests, it can travel across a continent and reach the desired target. Any missile whose range is over 3,500 miles or 5632 kilometers is termed as an intercontinental missile

An ICBM being launched
An ICBM being launched


The word ballistic is related to projectiles (in this case, a missile) or their flight. A ballistic missile is one whose trajectory is a high arc. Initially, it is powered and guided, but it descends on its target purely due to gravitational force.

What is the scope of the use of ICBM's?

They are generally used for military purposes. It is highly effective for delivering a payload to a far off land, remotely. The earlier variants of the ICBM's were not very accurate and were mostly used for a wide area of target. However, current day ICBM's can target a pinpoint location from thousands of kilo meters away (5632+, to be precise). 

Though they are generally used to deploy nuclear warheads, ICBM's can be used to deliver a variety of payloads. It can also successfully launch a  multiple independently target-able reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Using MIRVs with an ICBM can enable a country to hit multiple targets with individual payloads using one missile, remotely. There are also Maneuverable Re-entry vehicles, which can, you guessed it, be maneuvered so that it can hit a mobile target after having re-entered from the sub-orbital flight phase.  This is a bit scary to imagine, but it is the truth. However, sufficient technology is present to intercept an ICBM strike. We will read more about it later on in the article.

Platforms for the deployment of ICBM's:

Development for the deployment of ICMB's have come a long way. They can be deployed from both land and sea.


Missile Silo
Missile Silo
From land, ICBM's can be launched from both stationary and moving vehicles. They are generally deployed and stored in missile silos that are present at strategic points according to the geography of the country. They have also successfully been launched from heavy duty trucks and from trains.


ICBM through water
ICBM from submarine
In the sea, ICBM's are generally launched from a submarine. Such ICBM's are called SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). They are typically slower than ICBMs

ICBM Deployment Stages:

ICBM stages
ICBM stages

Stage 1 

It is the boost phase in which the missile gets launched from its initial position. It lasts for about three to five minutes and helps the missile attain an average altitude of 200 to 400 miles.

Stage 2

This is the mid phase and in it, the missile gets follows a sub-orbital flight path, the trajectory of which is an ellipse. In this phase the missile releases its individual war heads and decoys (if any). This phase lasts about 25 minutes.

Stage 3

In this final stage, the missile/ warheads are left to fall freely from an average height of about 100 kilo meters. The speed of impact varies from warhead to warhead but is typically around 7 km/s. This stage is about 2 minutes long.

Countries That Poses ICBM's

  1. USA
  2. Russia
  3. France
  4. U.K.
  5. India
  6. North Korea

Defense Against ICBM's

An ICBM can be intercepted in any of its three stages. Countries like USA, Russia, Israel, India and France have suitable missile defense systems in place. The best of the lot is The Iron Dome. It is closely followed by THAAD of the USA. An ABM or an Anti Ballistic Missile is typically used to intercept ICBM's. To know more about them, clink on the link (ABM).

After having read this article, you can understand the immense threat that an ICBM can pose to world peace if tensions are to rise between nations that poses such deadly technology. It is both remarkable and frightening that man has reached such an advanced level in  warfare. You can fully fathom now the danger this kind of technology can pose when in the hands of a rouge nation. 

Hopefully in the near future, the technology used for an ICBM can be revamped to assist in the field of logistics.

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