Teacher's Guide: Missiles


HARPOON: The HARPOON was originally developed in the 1970s as an antisubmarine missile for the Navy’s P-3 Orion aircraft. By 1981 it was the premier long-range, anti-ship missile used by navies around the world. A turbojet that burned a kerosene-based fuel propelled the missile. American submarines no longer carry HARPOONs.


TOMAHAWK: The TOMAHAWK cruise missile was loaded onto an American sub for the first time in 1982. Fired from under the water, the TOMAHAWK, upon reaching the surface, opens a set of wings and flies to its target under computer and satellite control. It has a range of over 800 miles and is still carried on subs today.

Polaris A-3

POLARIS (A-3): This missile was carried by LAFAYETTE- and BENJAMIN FRANKLIN class submarines and had a range of nearly 3,000 miles. The missile comprises four sections: the nose cone (warhead), the equipment (guidance), and the first and second stage boosters.

Polaris A-1

POLARIS (A-1): This was the first type of missile ever launched from a submerged submarine. It was a two-stage ballistic missile that had a range of 1,400 miles. (Unlike guided missiles, such as HARPOONs and TOMAHAWKs, which are guided throughout the course of their flight, ballistic missiles are guided in only the initial and final stages. During the middle portion of the flight they fly and fall according to the laws of gravity.)

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