Land attack

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Land attack is a term in naval warfare, referring to the use of sea-based weapons systems to strike targets deep inside the territory of an adversary. In recent years, it has made substantial use of cruise missiles, fired from cruisers, destroyers, and submarines. It can also involve carrier based aircraft delivering precision-guided munitions, and, less frequently in current practice, gravity bombs.

The concept differs from naval gunfire support, and both close air support and battlefield air interdiction by naval aircraft. In the 1950s, delivery of nuclear weapons by carrier aircraft was a matter of much controversy between the United States Navy and United States Air Force. One of the factors leading to developing the Single Integrated Operational Plan for nuclear warfare was the introduction of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), to which land-based airpower advocates could not reasonably argue were incapable of deep attack.

In a non-nuclear environment, the Royal Navy and United States Navy have delivered a number of attacks with BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, with either unitary high explosive or cluster submunition warheads. The inherently stealthy characteristics of submarines make them especially attractive for surprise land attack.

There have been experiments with using SLBM, without nuclear warheads, for land attack. Given their re-entry speed, the kinetic energy of the warhead is greater than would be achievable with any conventional explosive. For point targets, the experimental warheads were solids such as concrete, or, for area targets, bundles of steel rods.