locarno24 wrote:Note that none of the missiles you refer to track from launcher to target - they fly on GPS or inertial to a waypoint (or along a series of waypoints) then 'fire up' sensors for terminal guidance. If they do so and there's nobody there (a failed gunner check) then they haven't a hope of acquiring a target.
Also note, however, that the main reason they do this is that these are all over-the-horizon weapons (or at least are capable of this, even if a lighter weapon like exocet is not always employed this way), and it's a physical impossiblilty for such a weapon to have a track on its target with a line-of-sight sensor.
In a space-to-space missile....this is less of an issue as there is no 'horizon'
To put into perspective, as I understand it, traveller missile ~ block X harpoon in size, traveller torpedo ~ tomahawk SLCM in size.
Tomahawks CAN use GPS, but it's not required. Depending on the version, they can utilize their internal sensors. TLAM's mount inertial and terrain contour matching (TERCOM) radar guidance. The TERCOM radar uses a stored map reference to compare with the actual terrain to determine the missile's position. If necessary, a course correction is then made to place the missile on course to the target. Terminal guidance in the target area is provided by the optical Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) system, which compares a stored image of target with the actual target image (source - FAS website).
Exocet's don't use GPS, neither do missiles like the SS-N-22 Sunburn. In space they will need to either be command-guided, use onboard sensors, or a combination of both. Pretty much like today's missiles, except as you pointed out, there's no sex in the champagne room, err, I mean there's no horizon.
As to it being "impossible" for a weapon to track it's target on a line-of-site sensory, that's incorrect. Many nations have deployed weapons that pop-up on their target right before impact to get a final onboard sensor lock. Some of these will then engage secondary boosters to get to supersonic speeds to make it much more difficult to line of sight defenses to take them out. The Harpoon is just one of many missiles with this capability.