The Physics
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Range of a Ballistic Missile

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Scotts. Physics. Boston: Scotts Association, 1992: 590. "Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) has a range of over 6000 miles. ICBMs generally employ rockets with two or more stages" 9650 km
World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: American Association: 681. "An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) may strike a target from about 3,400 to 9,200 miles (5,500 to 15,000 kilometers) away after soaring as high as 700 miles (1,100 kilometers)." 5,500 to 15,000 km
Range Classifications. London: Range Association, 1996. Ballistic Missile Range Categories.
Classifications of Ballistic Missiles by Range
BSRBM Battlefield Short Range up to 150 km up to 94 miles
SRBM Short Range 150-799 km 94-499 miles
MRBM Medium Range 800-2,399 km 500-1499 miles
IRBM Intermediate Range 2,400-5,499 km 1,500-3,437 miles
ICBM Intercontinental Range + 5,500 km + 3,438 miles
SLBM Submarine Launched No Specific Range
150-5500 km
Spencer, John. The Ballistic Missile Threat. Atlanta: 1984: 78. "Intercontinental Ballistic Missile ICBM over 5,500 kilometers. Intermediate-Range Ballistic missile IRBM 3,000 to 5,500¯kilometers." > 5,500 km
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Federation of American Scientists, 1998: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. "Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) have ranges of greater than 5,500 km." > 5,500 km

A ballistic missile is a rocket-propelled weapon that briefly fires its engines and then allows the forces of gravity to carry its cargo to its intended target. Such a weapon has a ballistic trajectory over most of its flight path and categorized according to their range, maximum distance measured along the surface of the earth's geometric surface from the point of launch of a ballistic missile to the point of impact to the intended destination. intercontinental ballistic missiles are missiles that are used on land and in water (usually found on submarines). the range of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is over 5,500 km (3,400 miles). Ballistic missiles have been the preferred weapon because they are long range missiles and are of strategic intimidation for rouge regimes seeking to exert political and strategic leverage far in excess of what they would otherwise be able to bear using their conventional military assets.

Ballistic missiles are seen in many regimes, which do not otherwise possess the ability to project military power much beyond their own borders as weapons capable of creating fear and terror in opponents even if these opponents are economically and militarily stronger. Ballistic missiles have a number of distinct characteristics that make them a particularly attractive weapon for developing nations. Compared to other delivery systems, ballistic missiles are many times faster than a manned aircraft, have much shorter flight time to the target and are thus, more likely to penetrate an enemies defenses. Therefore, ballistic missiles can attack without warning, making them ideal for surprise and pre-emptive strikes.

Alicia White -- 2003