Missile boat

Missile boat

This is for the type of warship. For other uses of Missile Boat, see Missile Boat (disambiguation)

An Osa I class missile boat in 1983. The Osa class are probably the most numerous class of missile boats to have been built.

A Missile Boat is a small craft armed with anti-ship missiles. Being a small craft, missile boats are popular with nations interested in forming an inexpensive navy. They are similar in idea to the torpedo boats of World War II; in fact, the first missile boats were modified torpedo boats replacing two or more torpedo tubes with missile tubes.

The doctrine behind the use of missile boats is based on the principle of mobility over defence. The advent of proper missile and electronic counter measure technologies gave birth to the idea, that because a missile is far more accurate than a shell and can penetrate even the most heavily armored ship hulls, warships should now be designed to outmaneuver their enemies and get to a better position first. Moreover, increasing the potency of shells requires employing larger projectiles, which necessities larger naval guns and consequently, larger platforms to carry these guns. This trend culminated in the giant battleships of WWII. The ability to deploy anti-ship missiles on small, maneuverable platforms seriously negates the advantages that were provided by larger ships in the era before the advent of guided missiles. A small missile boat, when equipped with sophisticated guided anti-ship missiles can pose a serious threat to even the largest of capital ships, and do so at much greater ranges than is possible with torpedoes.



The first use of missile boats was by the Egyptian Soviet-built Komar class craft fire of four SS-N-2 Styx missiles on the Israeli destroyer Eilat on October 20 1967, shortly after the Six Day War, causing the latter's sinking with 47 dead.

The first naval missile battles between missile boats occurred between the Israel Navy (using indigenously-developed Gabriel missiles), and Syrian craft during the October 1973 Yom Kippur War. The first of these engagements became known as the Battle of Latakia. In these battles, some fifty Gabriels and a similar number of Styx missiles were fired, and seven Arab craft were sunk.

List of missile boat classes



  • Kralj class fast attack craft
  • Končar class fast attack craft





S79 Wiesel a modern Gepard class fast attack craft of the German Navy




  • Sparviero class patrol boat class seven now decommissioned Hydrofoils


  • 1-go class missile boat - based on Sparviero class patrol boat
  • Hayabusa class missile boat





Taiwan (Republic of China)


  • Ratcharit - used by Thailand, a fast attack missile boat



  • Pegasus class, hydrofoils, all six now decommissioned

Other uses

The term missile boat is also often used as a slang synonym for a Ballistic Missile Submarine, primarily used by US submariners.

Colloquially, and especially in video gaming, the term is applied to any offensive combat vehicle equipped with an extremely large number of guided or tracking munitions (such as the fictional Missile Boats seen in the Imperium (board game) and the Star Wars: X-Wing game series).

See also

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