Difference between ballistic and cruise missile

Ballistic Missile:

High-speed, suborbital trajectory. Uses gravity and propulsion to reach target. Short flight duration.

Cruise Missile:

Subsonic speed. Sustained, controlled flight. Can navigate terrain.


Ballistic: faster, shorter range; Cruise: slower, longer range. Ballistic: typically nuclear; Cruise: various payloads. Ballistic: less maneuverable; Cruise: more maneuverable. Ballistic: harder to intercept; Cruise: stealthier.


Ballistic offers speed, while cruise ensures accuracy. Ballistic has a rapid launch; cruise has longer flight times. Ballistic is faster; cruise is stealthier. Ballistic may carry nuclear warheads; cruise is versatile. Ballistic is costlier; cruise is more cost-effective.

Important note

Ballistic: rapid descent. Cruise: precise, terrain-hugging flight. Ballistic travels faster. Cruise offers better control. Ballistic missiles are faster but less maneuverable. Cruise missiles can change course during flight.