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The Evolution of Precision Guided Munitions from 1918 to 2010

Moon Jangnyeol 1 Moon Kwon 1

1국방대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper reviews the history of development of precision guided munitions(PGMs) since the end of the World WarI.We classify the PGMs into four categories; guided bombs,cruisemissiles, ballisticmissiles, and cannon-launched guided projectiles. For each category, the precision, the guidance system, the destruction power,and unit price are reviewed, with the factors of analysis being appropriately quantified. The review primarily focuses on the precision and the guidance mechanism of the PGMs which comprises their essential and defining characteristics.There view covers the time period from 1918 to 2010 and analyzes the PGMs mainly developed by the United States. Precision is estimated by the circular error probable(CEP) and the destructiveness by the weight or the yield of the explosive payload. The unit prices are presented through a conversion into current values. The overall trends are identified as following: First,the PGMs used solely the conventional explosives in the initial development stage but always tended to be combined with the nuclear warhead in the later stages. Second, the improvement in the precision was accelerated by immediately adopting the state-of-the-art technologies in such areas as mechanical,electronic, communication, and optical engineering. Third, the unit prices of the PGMs show a general decrease except for the ballistic missiles. Fourth,the destructive power of PGMs has been reinforced as the precision has improved, which means a great increase of the operational efficiency of the weapons. Fifth, the cruise missiles underwent a stalemate of development in 1960s overweighed by the strategic importance of the ballistic missiles but have been regaining the momentum as the modernization of the new operational concepts and technologies develop,especially in the post-Cold Warer era.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.