Missile Speed (Re: The F-16 does not go Mach 2 (cruise) !)

Message posted by Andreas Parsch on May 03, 2002 at 0:47:35 PST:

When one says "the missile travels at Mach 4", this means that at Mach 4, the thrust of the missile's engine equals the aerodynamic drag. Therefore, Mach 4 is the terminal (stable) velocity of the missile's powered(!) flight. [Because the drag is highly dependent on air density, i.e. altitude, the terminal Mach number is as well].

So, when you launch the missile from a Mach 3 a/c, it will accelerate to Mach 4, continue at that speed until motor burnout, and then gradually decelarate. [Disclaimer: I _konw_ this is a _much_ simplified description, not accounting for changes in altitude, etc. ;-)]

The advantage of launching a missile at high speed is increased range (because less missile propellant is used to accelerate to terminal speed), but for long-range missiles, even this is negligible.


In Reply to: Re: The F-16 does not go Mach 2 (cruise) ! posted by Fuel Fraction on May 02, 2002 at 18:19:05 PST:


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