According to Richard K Belts, author of Cruise missiles : Technology, strategy, politics which published in 1981 " Cruise missiles have evolved without a well defined conception of why they are needed and without an assessment of their full implications ". Up to some extend its true. Nobody expected a movie inspired development will become stand off weapon of future. As of now as many as 130 types of cruise missiles exist today with 75 countries possessing them. And out of these only 14 countries are manufacturers. Approximately 70,000 cruise missiles are in operation today. It's all started with Lawrence sperry's development of aerial torpedo, which carried a small TNT charge and equipped with auto pilot and barometric altitude control in 1916. Soon after this United States so started working on same type of systems and developed their first cruise missiles named keltering bug.
According to Intermediate Range NucleR forces Treaty cruise missiles are "Unmanned, self propelled vehicle that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift over most of its flight". But this definition of also covers UAVs. The cruise missiles are diffent from UAV s s vehicle is always sacrificed in mission. All modern cruise missiles are equipped with flight controls to maneuver missiles to its target accurately. Most of the missiles are falling in the category of 200-3000 km range and are able to carry different types of warheads .
It was the Germans first one used cruise missiles in battlefield during world war 2, The V-1 missile, often reffred as flying bomb contained a gyroscopic guidance system and was powered by pulse jet.Gyroscopic guidance was inaccurate,but as German objective was to ellict maximum damage to London,It wasn't major concern at that time . modern cruise missiles using TERMAC,DSMAC and GPS based guidance systems to reach its target . This helped to increase its accuracy by several meters.
Samuel Penn has categories missiles into 7 categories according to operational attributes,they are
And are cheap to develop and operate as they are unmanned and easy to develop by using limited resources. As there is no flight crew there is no need for spending money on training of crews. This is the main reason behind development of this platforms by many of developing g and third world countries. During operation Iraqi Freedom, operation Desert storm and operation enduring freedom we saw extensive use of cruise missiles, which clearly indicates these are effective weapon against enemy air defenses and can be used for taking out high value targets with minimal collateral damage. It clearly indicates in future conflicts cruise missiles will be come a serious threat.