By John Schuncke and Norman McMullan
A cruise missile is really a small, computerguided, unmanned
airplane which accurately and stealthily carries a payload to a
target. Cruise missiles are jetpowered missiles with ranges
measured in hundreds of miles. They are directed by intelligent,
selfcontained guidance systems which use terrainfollowing
radar, visual terrainimage matching and inertial navigation to
fly a programmed course from launch point to target. A cruise
missile flies lowlevel "on the deck" to avoid
Cruise missiles are seldom if ever seen in civilian hands.
They are the ultimate hightech missile; governments and the
very largest corporations are the only organizations which can
afford to make them, keep them and use them. As military
equipment, civilian possession of these weapons is strictly
forbidden. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver chemical,
biological and even nuclear payloads from extreme range. So the
average duelist will probably never run into one. And count
himself lucky for it.
A cruise missile consists of an airframe, flight surfaces
(usually wings), a jet engine, jet fuel, a launch propellant to
get the missile up to a speed where the wings can provide lift, a
guidance system and a warhead.
The airframe is the skeleton and skin of the missile. It holds
everything together. It can also be armored, to provide some
protection from any defensive weapons that may be used against
it, and the skin is usually radarabsorptive and fireproof
(i.e., flameproof stealth armor).
The wings and control surfaces provide lift and flight control
to the missile over its long trip. The wings are needed because
the flight of a cruise missile is too long and too low to be
ballistic, like a conventional vehicular rocket's is. Control
surfaces allow the missile to maneuver. The flight surfaces
usually stow within the airframe before launch, to conserve
space, and pop out of their stowage position into flight position
at launch. They, like the airframe, are usually radarabsorptive
The jet is a small marvel. It is compact and fuelefficient
in the extreme. It is also coolrunning (for a jet and leaves
remarkably little detectable emissions, or "signature,"
consisting mostly of smoke, heat and noise for a jet engine. It
burns jet fuel, of course, the storage of which takes up the bulk
of the airframe. Jet fuel is highly flammable, so a missile
destroyed in midair would make spectacular fireworks. For this
reason, the fuel tank is selfsealing and fire retardant.
Because the jet engine is designed for compactness and
efficiency, the missile's acceleration is somewhat less than
blazing. In fact, the missile needs assistance at launch to get
to flight speed. The launch propellant is a rocket engine which
bums for about 10 seconds, getting the jet to around 100 mph. At
this point the wings can provide adequate lift, and the jet has
Making this miniature airplane go where it needs to be is the
guidance system's chore. The guidance system consists of several
different types of sensors, an inertial tracking system and an
extremely fast and sophisticated computer. The sensors provide
information on the radar and infrared visual profiles of the
ground the missile is flying over and towards, the state of
ground targets and threats to the missile, and flight information
like altitude and airspeed. The inertial tracker allows the
computer to determine its precise location relative to launch
point, and by extension to the target. The computer puts it all
together at phenomenal speeds, to command the controls and the
engine to carry out the maneuvers needed to avoid the terrain and
follow the course to target. In other words, the computer is the
The warhead, of course, is the reason for this whole system.
It can be a (very) large conventional explosive, a chemical or
biological weapon, a submunition deployment system designed to
scatter bomblets or smart micromissiles, a fuelair incendiary
weapon, a nuclear warhead, or even propaganda leaflets (though
the last is hardly costeffective). The possibilities are
limited only by weight, volume and the imagination.
If a cruise missile survives its trip to target, it has to
"deploy the payload. " This means the missile must be
programmed for an attack mode. This programming, as with all
other programming (like flight course and target), must be done
There's no taking back or reprogramming a cruise missile once
Cruise Missiles have three basic attack modes'
Coordinate Airburst: The missile goes off in mid air
when it reaches its target coordinates. In other words, the
target isn't a thing, it's a place a point in space over a
certain spot on the ground. This mode is ideal for deploying
submunitions, gasses and largearea airburst nukes.
Coordinate Ground Impact: This is similar to coordinate
airburst, except that the missile dives to hit the ground when it
reaches its target coordinates. This is good for groundimpact
nukes and area coverage for napalm, as well as hitting completely
immobile targets at preciselyknown coordinates.
Target Attack: In this mode the missile is assigned a
specific target object, as well as target coordinates. When the
missile arrives at the vicinity of the coordinates, it uses its
sensors (imaging and radar, usually) to locate an object which
matches its target profile, and then flies into the target object
and sets off its warhead. If it fails to find the object within
about a quartermile radius of the target coordinates, the
missile reverts to coordinate ground impact mode.
Cruise missiles are usually launched from large, armored,
tracked vehicles. In a sense, they are the ammunition for a
special type of selfpropelled artillery piece. In addition,
they can be mounted on and launched from large air or watercraft
and oversized land vehicles including (theoretically) standard
Each launch vehicle requires a launchdirector console. This
is a special 2space "gunner's" position which is
exclusively dedicated to monitoring, programming and launching
cruise missiles. One launch console controls all the missiles on
the vehicle, and virtually any number of cruise missiles which
can be remotely linked to it (for instance, on a launch trailer
towed behind the launch crawler). If used, the remote linkage is
usually a fiberoptic cable, although radio or laser linkage can
be used for greater dispersion of launchers. The launch director
console is 2 spaces, 200 lbs. (including the crewperson's
weight). The sophisticated electronics involved make the console
terrifically expensive $1,500,000. The remote linkage gear is
0 space and weight, and has a range of 5 miles for radio and
lineofsight for laser linkages. The console has no DP.
Linkage gear is included in the price of a launch cradle
Cruise missiles can be carried on a launch vehicle several
ways. The easiest way is externally. Each missile sits on a
launch cradle in the roof or bed of the vehicle. Each cradle
requires I space and 100 lbs. inside the vehicle for aiming
mechanisms, electronics and shielding from launch blast; the
cradle itself has no DP. A vehicle can have one external launch
cradle on its roof per 25 spaces of total capacity (if 13 or more
spaces are left over, round up). The missiles are unprotected by
the vehicle's armor, and take damage from the top before top
armor. From the side, front or back they can be targeted like
turrets. Note that this mode of missile carriage completely
precludes any turret or topmounted weapon on the launch vehicle.
A second carriage method is external tube mountings. Missile
tubes are armored boxes mounted on the sides of the vehicle,
surrounding the missiles. They need one space and 500 lbs. per
missile (armor weight not included). They're each armored with
tank armor, and are damaged before the vehicle's armor. They are
mounted in pairs, left and right, and a vehicle can carry one
pair, except superheavy tanks, which can carry two pairs, and
nonoversized vehicles, which can't mount them at all. External
tube mountings make it impossible to put any weapon on the side
facing the vehicle.
A more secure way of carrying cruise missiles is internally.
This method requires 4 spares and 350 lbs per missile, in
addition to the spaces and weight used by the missile itself.
These 4 spaces hold mechanisms to open hatches and extend the
missile for launch, and more electronics and shielding, costing
an additional $5,000. The missiles can be mounted on both sides,
the back or top. Any facing which has an internallycarried
cruise missile cannot have any other weapon; the cruise missiles,
in effect, are the weapons in that facing. Also, cradle mounted
missiles preclude internally topmounted missiles, and external
tube mounts preclude internal sidefacing missiles. Also note
that the 0 spaces per side rule does apply to internal cruise
There are two basic sorts of cruise missiles: standard and
heavy. Each sort can be fitted with any one of a number of
Maximum Strike Range: 200 miles (70,400").
Minimum Strike Range: 3 miles (1,056").
Airspeed. 550 mph,
Spaces: 10, excluding launch systems.
Weight. 1,000 lbs., excluding launch systems.
DP. 10 DP, plus 8 DP of fireproof stealth armor.
Maximum Strike Range: 600 miles (70,400").
Minimum Strike Range: 5 miles (1,760").
Airspeed: 470 mph.
Spaces: 15, excluding launch systems.
Weight: 1,500 lbs., excluding launch systems.
DP. 14 DP, plus 10 DP of fireproof, stealth armor.
If either sort of missile is internally damaged in flight, loss of 8 internal DP will cause loss of control and a crash into the ground. Due to the flammability of its fuel, the missile has the same chance as a heavy rocket of catching fire and exploding when internally hit, unless it's carrying an incendiary payload; in that case, treat it as a flamethrower for catching fire and exploding. Of course, this applies only to internal damage, because of the missile's fireproof armor.
Both sizes of missile can mount any of the following warheads.
Cruise Missile: 10d damage in a 5" radius, 5d at up to 10", and Id at up to 15". Id damage to pedestrians out to 20". Cost: $1,200.
Heavy Missile: 13d damage in a 6" radius, 6d at up
to 12", and 2d at up to 18". Id damage to pedestrians
out to 25". Cost: $1,500.
Cruise Missile: 15d damage to target, 5d at up to 10", Id to 15". Id damage to pedestrians out to 20". Cost $1,200.
Heavy Missile: 20d damage to target, 8d at up to
12", and Id at up to 15". Id damage to pedestrians out
to 20". $1,500.
Cruise Missile: Gas covers an area 3/4 miles wide, 5 miles downwind from burst point. Effect is dependent on the nature of the gas. Cost: $1,500 (possibly more for exotic or experimental gasses).
Heavy Missile: Gas covers 2 1/8 mile wide strip, 7
miles downwind from burst point. Effect is dependent on the
nature of the gas. Cost: $1,750 (possibly more, as above).
Cruise Missile: All targets within 20" radius take 4d fire damage. Pedestrians stunned in 40" radius. Cost $1,500.
Heavy Missile: All targets within 30" radius take 4d fire damage. Pedestrians stunned at 50" radius. Cost: $1,750.
Cruise Missile: All targets within 20" radius take 3d damage for 2 turns. Cost $1,500.
Heavy Missile: All targets within 30" radius take 3d damage coordinate for 3 turns. Cost: $1,750
Cruise Missile: For each possible target within 15 " radius of burst, follow this procedure: roll IdI for each 4 squares or fraction thereof occupied by the vehicle counter. This is the number of dice damage that the target will take as damage on it's top armor. (0d damage is possible. Lucky you.) Cost: $1,500.
Heavy Missile: As above, but radius is 20". Cost: $1,750.
Nuclear: Cost and damage as per Car Wars Tanks,
p. 43.Standard missiles can carry up to a 5 kt warhead, heavy
missiles up to 20 kt.
Cruise Missile: Little leaflets printed with a propaganda message scatter around a 30"radius, subject to wind. Cost: $1,000.
Heavy Missile: As above, but radius is doubled. Cost:
Cruise missiles have a tohit of 8. If the missile is attacking in either airburst coordinate or ground impact coordinate modes, the tohit is completely unmodified, and if you miss you determine the point of missile detonation as though the missile were a grenade. If the missile makes its attack in the target attack mode, the tohit is modified by the target's size modifier (but if it's a large target, only to a maximum of +2), target speed modifiers and visibility modifications.
A cruise missile can have its guidance systems jammed. A Bollixtype highpower jammer can make terrainavoidance radar in the missile fail. For each phase the missile passes through a broadcast zone for a Bollix or Wild Weasel EW rig, roll 2d. On a 2 the missile momentarily loses terrainfollowing and executes a maximumG pullup for the rest of the tam to avoid possible "terrain. " This maneuver has a I in 6 chance of destroying the missile by ripping its wings off. (Roll Id; if it comes up 1, the missile buys it.) If the missile survives the pullup, it can have terrainfollowing restored next turn, by making the 2d roll and succeeding.A cruise missile programmed for target attack mode will lock on to its target when it comes into lineofsight. It will target the ground object which matches its radar and visual profile, and which is nearest to its target coordinates.
A target profile is an imaging description of the target. It describes dimensions (accurate to a couple of feet), radar image, thermal profile and shape. It can differentiate a truck from a tank, or a pickup from a station wagon, or a shopping center from a munitions plant. In general, a short description like, "A super heavy tank, 35' long by 20' wide', or "a pentagonal building a half mile across," is as detailed as it gets. The profile isn't sufficiently detailed to discriminate between, say, a green van and a red, or between a friendly tank or a hostile one, or between a tank factory and a toy factory. So it's quite possible for the missile to target the wrong object.
In any event, a lockon can be prevented by simultaneous jamming of the missile's radar by a highpower jammer like a Bollix (a personal radar jammer will not do the job) and complete obstruction of visual and infrared lineofsight. In this case, the missile fails to notice the target and will target another item that matches its profile, or, failing to find a suitable target within 80" of its target coordinates, will switch to groundimpact mode.
A cruise missile on its runin to the target is no longer in terrainfollowing mode, and behaves like a standard RGM. If its radar is jammed while in attack mode, apply a modifier of 4 to the tohit roll, to reflect the loss of a targeting system (radar imaging). The missile can still guide itself with its other
sensors, and therefore doesn't go into straightline flight when jammed. Other forms of jamming don't work against a cruise missile.A cruise missile can be targeted while in flight.