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Type of low-flying strategic guided missile developed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and '70s. The V-1 missile was a precursor. Powered by jet engines, cruise missiles may carry either a nuclear or a conventional warhead. They are designed to hug the ground, which makes them hard to detect by radar. They are launched from ships, submarines, airplanes, and the ground.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cruise missile, visit Britannica.com.