- "God-Emperor, infuse this weapon with your wrath, that I might deliver your righteous anger unto your enemies."
- — Munitorum Battle Blessing
Frag (Fragmentation) projectiles are designed to spray a designated area with shrapnel, making these munitions highly useful against groups of lightly armoured infantry. Krak projectiles cover less area with their blast, but their warheads have improved armour-penetration capabilities, making them useful for taking down either heavily armoured infantry or moderately armoured vehicles.
A variant of a Missile Launcher is a Rocket Launcher, which fires unguided, self-propelled projectiles. Rockets contain the same types of warheads as a missile.
A missile is a self-propelled projectile, usually incorporating an electronic guidance system, and tipped with a high-explosive chemical, kinetic or plasma-based warhead. Missiles generally make use of a chemical rocket, jet engine or even anti-gravity drive to provide motive force, and often contain a guidance package embedded within them.
The term "rocket" usually refers to a similar self-propelled projectile which lacks an electronic guidance package and instead is fired using line-of-sight, whilst 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 the Loyalist Space Marines of the Imperium of Man, the Chaos Space Marines, the Orks, the Craftworld Aeldari, and the Fire Caste of the T'au Empire.
Among the forces of the Imperium, Missile Launchers are primarily used by Space Marines as one-man portable heavy weapons, as their Power Armour gives them the enhanced strength required to carry both the launcher and additional reloads into battle. Imperial Guardsmen, meanwhile, use the Missile Launcher as a crew-served weapon, manned by a two-man Heavy Weapon Team, with one man serving as a gunner and another as the loader; when displacing positions, the first man carries the launcher and the other carries the tripod mount and additional ammunition reloads.
With their super-human strength, Space Marines are capable of throwing projectiles further than some Imperial weapons can shoot. This relegates Grenade Launchers to a secondary weapon role for the Adeptus Astartes, usually affixed to a Bolter or similar convenient location. Missile Launchers are the more frequent special weapon choice when a mission calls for long-range firepower. Requisitioning a Missile Launcher includes the requisition of Frag and/or Krak missiles as standard, enough to be sufficient and keep the weapon loaded with whatever configuration of the two missile types is desired. Alternative missile types must be specifically requisitioned due their rarer manufacture.
Missile Launchers allow Imperial Guard troopers to fire explosives at targets outside of their throwing range, firing missiles much farther and with a vastly greater degree of accuracy than most Guardsmen could hurl similar explosives like grenades. Missile Launchers are extremely versatile, and can be loaded with a number of different kinds of ammunition for different situations and targets. Of course, a Guardsman must first procure this appropriate ammunition, which can sometimes be as difficult as securing the launcher itself. Missile Launchers are most commonly employed on Imperial Guard vehicles, though Heavy Weapon Teams consisting of two specially-trained Guardsmen are also commonly issued with Missile Launchers with deployable mounts and/or stands.
Imperial Missile Launcher Patterns/Variants
- Accatran Pattern, Mark II - A lightweight, man-portable weapon utilised exclusively by the Imperial Guard regiments of the Elysian Drop Troops, this pattern of Missile Launcher can hold a single Krak Missile or Frag Missile at a time. An attending loader will carry extra missiles and reload the weapon after each shot.
- Achillan Mark III "Tread Fether" Missile Tube - The Achillan Mk III is representative of a category of light, highly portable Missile Launchers that many Imperial Guard regiments colloquially refer to as "tread fethers." So-called for their utility against tanks and other armoured vehicles, tread fethers are more portable and less encumbering than other Missile Launchers, while sacrificing none of their destructive potential. This added mobility makes tread fethers a favourite amongst light infantry regiments, for whom the compensatory reduced range and accuracy of the missile tube are of small concern.
- Armourbane Pattern - 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 Missile Launcher is built for a multi-purpose role, the Armourbane specialises in dealing with heavily-armoured ground units. This launcher is typically loaded with Hunter-Killer 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.
- Cadian Pattern - A commonly used pattern of Missile Launcher by the troopers of the Imperial Guard, this pattern carries a missile magazine containing individual self-propelled missiles, and can fire a variety of load types.
- Cyclone Missile Launcher - Cyclone Missile Launchers were specially designed for use with Tactical Dreadnought Armour. Valuable enough for their ability to launch missiles rapidly from the twin racks, this back-mounted missile system also makes up for some of Terminator armour’s inflexibility by providing more options in combat. Each of the weapon's missile racks may be loaded with a different missile type, allowing the user to decide which type to fire every time he does so.
- Disposable Launcher - This weapon is popular with Planetary Defence Forces as it is simple to use and requires no loading or reloading. These weapons normally come pre-loaded with a single Frag or Krak missile. Some Disposable Launchers come loaded with rocket-propelled Frag or Krak grenades instead.
- "Drake's Claw" Launcher - This primitive rocket launcher fires a thin-shelled warhead, and is named for the Rogue Trader who scoffed at its outlandish appearance. The direct damage is minimal, but as Drake discovered, the payload breaks into viciously lethal splinters that are horrific to remove.
- Hyperios Missile Launcher - The Hyperios Missile Launcher is a specialised, anti-aircraft missile launcher usually mounted on the Adeptus Astartes' Whirlwind Hyperios, the Space Marines' most potent anti-air weapon. It is capable of firing up to twenty Hyperios surface-to-air missiles at fast, low-flying targets, making it ideal for defence against aircraft attempting strafing runs on Astartes ground forces. The Hyperios Missile Launcher carries up to forty Hyperios Missiles that can be used to bring down enemy aircraft with ease.
- Locke Pattern - A commonly used pattern of Missile Launcher that is a shoulder mounted tube-like weapon, and is able to fire a single round with great accuracy.
- "Longflame" Launcher - The Longflame is a primitive rocket launcher capable of sending a single warhead a significant distance, but without a great deal of accuracy. The heavy warhead it fires explodes with considerable force, and leaves behind a lasting inferno to disrupt enemy movement.
- Mars Pattern, Mark III - This man-portable Missile Launcher provides a squad with flexible heavy weapons fire support. It is capable of eliminating hard targets and enemy vehicles at long range with its armour-piercing Krak Missiles, or can provide anti-infantry suppressive fire power with Frag Missiles. It is a single clip weapon, and must be reloaded after each shot. Other patterns include a short magazine of missiles.
- Multiple Rocket Pod - A Multiple Rocket Pod is a launcher capable of firing several fire-and-forget "dumb" rockets directly along line-of-sight towards a target. Multiple Rocket Pods are often deployed aboard Imperial aircraft, particularly the Aeronautica Imperialis' Vulture gunship.
- Proteus Pattern - The Proteus Pattern is one of the most ancient patterns that have been continuously utilised since the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. Chapters like the Carcharodons and the fearsome Minotaurs still make use of this pattern of Missile Launcher.
- Retobi Pattern - An ancient pattern of Missile Launcher that is designed to hold a huge vertical clip of 5 missiles, though unfortunately is much more awkward to fire and has far less precision.
- Soundstrike Pattern - The Soundstrike Pattern Missile Launcher is the standard Imperial pattern of Missile Launcher used by the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes.
- Mark V Pattern - A compact version of the Soundstrike Pattern Missile Launcher, this pattern is known to be utilised by the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter.
- Thunderbolt Pattern - A notable pattern of Missile Launcher utilised by the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter.
Imperial Missile Types
Missiles are extremely versatile and can potentially carry any conceivable type of warhead, including:
- Frag Missile - Frag Missiles are designed to explode on impact with any surface, raking the immediate area with lethal shrapnel composed of aerodynamic metallic shards. 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 Missile - Krak Missiles are primarily intended to serve as anti-vehicle weapons, and contain a high-strength shaped charge with a relatively small blast radius, but causes massive damage to anything it hits with minimal collateral damage. Krak Missiles are also very effective against heavily armoured infantry, bunkers and other armoured or fortified static targets where their concentrated explosives will often punch holes straight through armour. However, a Krak Missile's small blast radius makes them impractical for use against most infantry and moving targets.
- Flakk Missile - Flakk Missiles are designed to serve as anti-aircraft munitions. When they explode, they release a specially-shaped charge containing shrapnel intended to pierce the often lightly-armoured airframes of enemy aircraft. A Flakk Missile can be outfitted with heat-seeking or radar-based targetting packages.
- Astartes Anti-Plant Missile - 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 can reduce even the hardiest flora to a foul-smelling muck in minutes. These missiles are typically used to deny the enemy cover and to clear landing zones and fortification sites.
- Blind Missile - Blind Missiles explode with a burst of dense dark grey smoke, including IR (Infrared) bafflers and broadband EM (Electro Magnetic) spectrum chaff, all designed to block eyesight and even advanced visual detection. This effect is short-lived though, but while it lasts it provides excellent cover for advancing forces.
- Concussion Missile - Concussion Missiles are outfitted with powerful high explosives and are very effective at breaking up entrenched enemy fortifications. Concussion Missiles are much beloved by the Battle-Brothers of the Imperial Fists garrisoned at Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach whilst serving a term with the Deathwatch.
- Haywire Missile - Haywire Missiles use a violent EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) to disrupt all electrically based devices nearby, including energy weapons, Power Armour, force fields, Bionics, and most vehicles. All electrical devices including energy weapons, bionic systems, and vehicles within the blast radius of this missile cease to operate for a long period of time, as if their power had run out.
- Hellstrike Missile - The Hellstrike Missile is an air-to-surface missile commonly mounted on Imperial attack and assault craft used in support of ground-based operations. These weapons use a solid propellant core to deliver a high explosive load, designed to effectively penetrate even well-armoured targets. Because they are generally launched from fixed wing aircraft, these missiles often strike their targets with a speed that substantially exceeds that of rockets fired from ground-based platforms. Hellstrike missiles may not be loaded with unusual or exotic warheads.
- Hellfury Missile - The Hellfury Missile is an anti-personnel, air to-surface missile deployed on Aeronautica Imperialis aircraft like the Vendetta heavy gunship and the Valkyrie gunship. Each Hellfury warhead is packed with dozens of incendiary sub-munitions which are designed to be released in an airburst across a wide area. The Hellfury Missile was designed to serve an anti-personnel function and is particularly useful in assaulting enemy troops dug-in behind cover or large hordes of basic infantry moving across open ground, such as Ork Boyz and Tyranid ground swarms.
- Hunter-Killer Missile - This specialty Missile Launcher is often mounted on vehicles, and fires an advanced Krak missile fitted with advanced guidance systems and fuel. This missile has a longer range and better accuracy than those of standard launchers, as the internal cogitator's sensorum suite guides it to the target. Each comes in a complete launching package, good for one shot only.
- Incendiary Missile - Incendiary Missiles are commonly employed to flush out enemies in entrenched cover. Incendiary Missiles contain a slow-burning Promethium distillate that ignites when the missile explodes. This Promethium will continue to burn in the area for a significant time after the missile has detonated.
- Melta Missiles - Melta Missiles are fired from a Salvo Launcher. Their warhead contains a massive Melta charge similar to a Melta Bomb in effect that emits a furious, high-intensity melta beam when detonated. This beam is a searing blast of heat that can rip through heavy armour and fortified positions alike.
- Minefield Round - These shells are designed to splinter open at the highest arc of their trajectory, releasing a plethora of sub-munitions with two impact triggers. Once the first is sprung upon contact with the ground, the second trigger deploys -- awaiting only a single, unlucky step to unleash its powerful explosives. Easy and safe to use from a distance, Minefield Rounds are an effective way to lay down a protective cordon around a bunker or other defensive location. These rounds can only be used in either Mortars or Missile Launchers, and cannot be thrown.
- Photon Flash Missile - Photon Flash, or simply Flash, Missiles detonate like a small star, blinding anyone nearby and overloading most vision protection systems such as those in visors. Anybody caught without eye protection is usually left temporarily blinded and defenceless.
- Astartes Plasma Missile - Plasma Missiles are the larger incarnations of Imperial Plasma Grenades, and are highly effective against most foes. A single salvo of Plasma Missiles can easily turn enemy troops into a smoking crater. It is for this reason, however, that the user of Plasma Missile weaponry must take care when firing one of these dangerous weapons to make sure that he and his comrades are sufficiently out of harm's way. Plasma Missiles utilise a deliberate plasma containment failure that erupts into a blast of white-hot energy upon impact. The dense plasma core of the missile is rarely entirely consumed in the initial explosion and will leave behind a glowing, energised orb that acts like a miniature sun; leaving the immediate area of the impact unapproachable for some time. Plasma Missiles are especially effective against vehicles as the plasma core can stick to and quickly penetrate most vehicles' armour.
- Rad Missile - These were special issue weapons utilised by Legion Destroyer Squads during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy era. These Terran-devised missiles, a horror of the gene-war anarchy of Old Night, used custom-loaded warheads which combined high explosive charges with inner fragmentation cases made from highly radioactive isotopes, usually harvested from decommissioned fission reactor shells. The effect was to create an intensely toxic weapon that inflicted a hideous death on its victims, and could poison and lay low the most resilient alien organisms. Rad warheads would detonate with a short, intense burst of radiation and showered the immediate area with highly contaminated fallout. As well as direct damage, these deadly missiles could be used to bombard an area be used for their debilitating effect on health rather than slaying outright, rendering a target vulnerable to further injury.
- Scatter Round - Scatter Rounds combine much smaller and less-powerful Frag grenades variants into a single Missile Launcher round. These are generally fired in a high arc and disperse into separate micro-explosives, spreading the explosive effect over a huge radius. These rounds can only be used in either Mortar or Missile Launchers, and cannot be thrown.
- Smoke Missiles - A primitive version of Blind Missiles, these release a dense smoke which only obscures basic eyesight and optical based systems. They do not block detection systems that use heat or other spectral bands outside of normal human eyesight, but are much more widely available and easier to construct.
- Stormstrike Missiles - Stormstrike Missiles detonate with a thunderous boom that leaves those caught in the blast radius reeling and disoriented.
- Starflare Round - These are fired high into the air via a Missile Launcher or Grenade Launcher, where they burst into a multitude of small flares. As the flares burn out and drift to the ground, they fully illuminate the underlying area for almost a minute. They can also dazzle the vision of anyone not wearing protective lenses, and in an emergency can even be used as an offensive weapon when fired directly into a foe.
- Stasis Missile - Stasis technology is rare and unusual in the Imperium. Developed by the Adeptus Mechanicus, these rare weapons are generally not issued to combat troops as it is very expensive to construct. At the heart of a Stasis Missile's warhead is a small time-warp generator that creates a self-replicating time-warp or stasis-loop centred upon itself. Everything close to the exploding missile is condemned to relive the same instant time and time again, effectively trapping that section of space and time in a single moment and making the scene appear frozen to observers further away. The effect of the time-warp field weakens as the distance from the missile impact increases. As such, farther away from the impact site the loop becomes longer and longer, so that while time is slowed down it does not wholly stop. Troops within this outer area appear to move far slower than normal bur can still move and act although in a restricted fashion. A stasis-loop lasts only for a limited time, but may persist for several minutes.
- Stun Missile - Stun Missiles use a combination of a loud explosive and a flash of light to momentarily incapacitate targets before an assault is launched. They are designed for non-lethal uses and generally cause no lasting injury.
- Tanglefoot Missile - Tanglefoot Missiles create concentrated fluctuations in the gravitational gradient at the detonation site much in the same way as a Graviton Gun. This projected area of disorientating gravity acts like a tripwire, dragging infantry prone to the ground and causing severe difficulty in movement.
- Virus Missile - Virus Missiles house powerful biological toxins which can break down biological systems in moments before leaping to neighbouring creatures to infect them. They can quickly kill scores of people before mutating into a non-lethal strain or running out of victims near enough to be attacked.
- Vortex Missile - A rare weapon which is difficult to produce, Vortex Missiles are made only by the Adeptus Mechanicus. The design of such technology dates back to the Dark Age of Technology. When the Vortex Missile explodes it creates a tiny rift between Realspace and the Warp, a rift which becomes a vortex in the fabric of space like a small black hole. Everything encompassed by the vortex is destroyed: all matter and all energy is drawn through the vortex and into Warp space where it is turned into the very stuff of the Warp. Vortices are doubly dangerous because once created they behave in an unpredictable way. They may grow or shrink, vanish or remain for long periods, they can move, and they can divide. A vortex can be as deadly to its user as to its target.
Chaos Missile Launchers
- "Let the roar of the missile be as a war cry to reach the gods."
- — Chaos Space Marine Havocs catechism
Utilised most commonly by Chaos Space Marine Havocs, Chaos Space Marine Missile Launchers can fire either Krak or Frag Missiles. Frag Missiles are designed to wreak havoc in lightly armoured infantry formations, while Krak missiles can break open all but the most heavily armoured targets.
With an ample supply of both types of ammunition, a Missile Launcher is the most versatile weapon available to the Forces of Chaos. Missile launchers can be shoulder-mounted and fired by one Chaos Space Marine, but usually require teams of two if being utilised by Chaos Cultists -- the second acting as a loader and spotter.
Xenos Missile Launchers
Missile launchers are versatile weapons, and the Imperium is not the only force to make use of them. Various xenos races such as the Eldar, the Tau and the Orks also make use of such devastating weapons.
- Eldar Missile Launcher - Eldar Missile Launchers are similar to their Imperial equivalent, but are more elegant and well-balanced. They use complex chambered pods that contain several different kinds of ammunition, all but eliminating the need to reload in battle. They also differ in that they fire Plasma Missiles rather than the more crude Frag Missiles.
- Reaper Launcher - Utilised to deadly effect by the Dark Reapers Aspect Warriors, Reaper Launchers fire a fusillade of small but potent armour piercing starswarm missiles. Some Dark Reapers also sport more powerful starshot missiles, which allows them to engage enemy tanks and fortifications with impunity.
- Tempest Launcher - Dark Reaper Exarchs sometimes employ Tempest Launchers, which can hurl explosives high into the air to land amongst the foe, allowing these merciless Eldar to obliterate several targets at once from within the foe's ranks.
- Rokkit Launcha - A Rokkit Launcha is a large but simple weapon; consisting of a tubular launcher and as many Rokkits as an Ork can get a hold of. Its simple trigger mechanism allows the Ork at the "safe" end to fire his dodgy-looking payload in the general vicinity of the enemy. The rokkits can be loaded in one at a time or, if the rokkit launcher is a bit more upmarket, they might be loaded in automatically from a magazine. Rokkits tend to be unreliable (mainly due to the large amount of smoke produced when a rokkit is launched) but when they work they are extremely effective and can blow apart a buggy or smash open an armoured gate. They are also very loud, a big plus for any self-respecting Ork warrior. Mekboyz can make different kinds of rokkits or improved versions, but it'll cost an Ork many teeth.
- Missile Pod - A Missile Pod is a relatively simple Tau multiple missile delivery system able to engage targets at long range. Similar in power and role to an Imperial Autocannon, a Missile Pod consists of a small silo of semi-intelligent missiles that are extremely effective against both heavy infantry and light vehicles. Missile Pods are most commonly used as medium to long-range mobile fire support weapons by Tau Battlesuits and Tau aircraft.
- High-yield Missile Pod - A High-yield Missile Pod is essentially a larger and more rapidly-firing Missile Pod. XV88 Broadside Battlesuits can wield twin-linked High-yield Missile Pods as alternative primary weapon systems to Heavy Rail Rifles.
- Seeker Missile - A Seeker Missile is weapon system consists of a single high strength missile which strikes a target that has been designated using a Marker Light. Seeker Missiles are commonly used in place of artillery as Tau battle doctrine dictates that all forces should always remain mobile.
- Smart Missile System - A Smart Missile System fires clusters of small missiles, each guided by a Drone processor unit built into its warhead, intended for use against masses of enemy infantry, particularly those hiding in cover. Upon their launch, the "Smart Missiles" will search for targets within sensor range before selecting and engaging one based on criteria previously detailed by the weapon's operator. These targets do not have to be within line of sight of the operator, as once the target has been acquired, the missiles are able to effectively home in on it, manoeuvring their thrusters to propel them around any intervening terrain as they hunt the enemy down to an explosive conclusion.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 159
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pp. 41, 67
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 56, 58-59
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 36, 102
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 26, 82, 100
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 34
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 16
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 60-61
- Codex: Dark Angels (5th Edition), pg. 51
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pp. 62-64
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pg. 22, 34
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pp. 69, 76, 80
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 89
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 120, 122
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 58-59
- Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pg. 66
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Within (2nd Edition) (RPG), pg. 42
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 174
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG) pp. 151-152
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 136-137
- Gorkamorka Da' Roolz (2nd Edition), pg. 56
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 118, 153, 234
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard & Imperial Navy, pg. 249-254
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard (Second Edition), pg. 260
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 57-66, 251
- Imperial Armour Volume Four - The Anphelion Project, pp. 126, 137
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks, Part Two, pp. 118-119, 122, 169
- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem, pp. 93, 117
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War, Part One, pg. 102,
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War, Part Two, pp. 122, 135, 138
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 143
- Imperial Munitorum Manual, pg. 76
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 182
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 114
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 125
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pp. 115-117
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Imperial Armour), pp. 215, 232
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Imperial Armour), pp. 201-202
- Warhammer 40,000: Battle Manual (2nd Edition), pg. 68
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pg.
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 55
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 42
- Games Workshop: Catalogue - Chaos Space Marine Havocs
- Games Workshop Online Catalog - Imperial Guard Cadian Heavy Weapons Team
- Games Workshop Online Catalog - Imperial Guard Catachan Heavy Weapons Team
- Forge World - Elysian Missile Squad
- Games Workshop Online Catalog - Steel Legion Missile Launcher Team
- Forge World - Tallarn Missile Launcher Team