A Missile Launcher is a weapon that can fire several types of self-propelled Missile, including both Frag and Krak Missiles. Frag (Fragmentation) projectiles are designed to spray a designated area with shrapnel, making these munitions highly useful against lightly armoured infantry. Krak projectiles cover less area but their warheads have improved penetrating capabilities, making them useful for taking down either heavily armoured infantry or moderately armoured vehicles. A missile is a self-propelled projectile, usually incorporating an electronic guidance system, that are tipped with a high explosive chemical, kinetic or plasma-based warhead. Missiles are usually self-propelled projectiles that make use of a chemical rocket, jet engine or even anti-gravity drive to provide motive force. Missiles are self-propelled projectiles that contain a guidance package while the term "rocket" usually refers to a similar self-propelled projectile which lacks an electronic guidance package and intead is fired using line-of-sight and its warhead detonates on impact. Rockets are thus often termed "fire-and-forget" weapons. Missile Launchers are used in one form or another by many of the different species and factions of the Milky Way Galaxy in the late 41st Millennium, including by the Loyalist Space Marines of the Imperium of Man, the Chaos Space Marines, the Orks, the Eldar, and the Fire Warriors of the Tau Empire.
Grenade Launchers are a weaker form of the Missile Launcher employed almost exclusively by the Imperial Guard, although Inquisitorial Stormtroopers and Adeptus Arbites units have been known to use them. They make use of Frag and Krak Grenades. Missile Launchers are primarily used by Space Marines because their Power Armour gives them the enhanced strength required to carry them into battle. Grenades, naturally, are less powerful than missiles, but are easier to fire on the move.
Missile Launcher Variants
- Armourbane Missile Launcher - The Armourbane Pattern Missile Launcher (unique to the Jericho Reach Deathwatch) is a squat, wide-barrelled launcher half as tall as a Space Marine. That is where the similarities to a standard Astartes Missile Launcher end, however, for whereas the anti-aircraft Missile Launcher is built to take down airborne targets, the Armourbane specialises in dealing with heavily-armoured ground units. This launcher is typically loaded with Hunter-Killer Krak Missiles, and is fitted with an array of Augurs and special Cogitators to guide its missiles smoothly to their targets. Armourbane Launchers give a Kill-team extra protection against armoured vehicles and large xenos beasts over and above that of a standard "Soundstrike" Missile Launcher. The special Augur array mounted to the Armourbane combines the benefits of a preysense sight and a red-dot laser sight.
- Soundstrike Missile Launcher - The Soundstrike Pattern Missile Launcher is the standard Imperial pattern of Missile Launcher used by the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes.
Imperial Missile Types
- Frag Missiles - Frag Missiles are designed to explode on impact with any surface, raking the immediate area with lethal shrapnel. Though Frag Missiles are primarily intended to be used as anti-infantry weapons, they can also be deployed effectively against light vehicles. Frag Missiles are often ineffective against heavily armoured infantry.
- Krak Missiles - Krak Missiles are primarily intended to serve as anti-vehicle weapons, and contain a high-strength shaped charge with a relatively small blast radius that causes massive damage to anything it hits with minimal collateral damage. Krak Missiles are also very effective against heavily armoured infantry, bunkers and other armored or fortified static targets.
- Flakk Missiles - Flakk Missiles are designed to serve as anti-aircraft munitions and when they explode they release a specially-shaped charge containing shrapnel intended to pierce the often lightly-armoured airframes of enemy aircraft. They can be outfitted with heat-seeking or radar-based targetting packages.
- Astartes Anti-Plant Missiles - Astartes Anti-Plant Missiles are a stronger variant of the standard Imperial Anti-Plant Missiles. They release a vicious cocktail of toxins, viral agents, defoliants, and anti-fungal agents on detonation that reduce even the heartiest flora to a foul-smelling muck in minutes. Typically used to deny cover and to clear landing zones and fortification sites.
- Concussion Missiles are very effective at breaking up fortifications, and are much beloved by the Battle-Brothers of the Imperial Fists garrisoned at Watch Station Erioch.
- Other Types: Missiles are extremely versatile and can potentially carry any conceivable type of warhead, including: Anti-Plant, Virus, Vortex, Smoke, Gas, Tanglefoot, Haywire, Stasis, Plasma and Photon Flash warheads.
Other Missile Launchers
Missile launchers are versatile weapons, and the Imperium is not the only force to make use of them. Eldar Missile Launchers are similar to the Imperial equivalent but contain complex chambered pods each holding their own ammunition, all but eliminating the need to reload. They also differ in that they fire Plasma Missiles rather than the more crude Frag Missiles. Tau Missile Pods fire missiles that deal high damage against singular targets, while Seeker Missiles and Smart Missiles both use drone intelligences to guide themselves to their targets. Orks use a simple Rokkit Launcher that is very inaccurate due to the tendency of their Rokkits to corkscrew in flight, and due to the large amount of smoke produced when the Rokkit is launched. However, the Rokkit is nevertheless quite effective if it manages to hit the target.
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 136-137
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 55
- Warhammer 40,000 Wargear (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Wargear (2nd Edition)
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