Missiles

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Missile mechanics
Fitting missile launchers
Missile ships

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Gunnery 101
Gunnery 201
Missiles 101
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This article details the basic operation of missile launcher weapon systems, including launcher and missile types, related skills, and related tactics. Other articles in this wiki include:
  • Missile mechanics explains how EVE computes the damage done by an exploding missile,
  • Fitting Missile Launchers discusses the ins and outs of putting missile weaponry on your ship,
  • Missile Ships gives a complete list of all ships that can use missile launchers and compares their attributes.


Missiles are self-propelled ammunition launched from missile launchers, one of the two most widely used weapon types in EVE (the other being turrets). Unlike turret weapons, missiles have the ability to track and follow their target. Rather than optimal and falloff range, missile range is determined by velocity and flight time, while missile damage is determined by the velocity and signature radius of the target and the explosion radius, explosion velocity, and damage reduction factor of the missile.

The primary strength of missiles is that, assuming that the target is within range, a missile will always "hit" its target, but the damage dealt will vary depending on the size of the target and the speed of the explosion. However, missile launchers fire more slowly than turrets of a similar size, and missile damage is delayed due to travel time, rather than being instantaneous.

A missile does not so much hit a ship as explode near it. When a missile crosses the signature radius of its target, it blows up. The speed at which this explosion grows and the maximum size of the explosion determine the amount of damage done to the target. EVE uses a mathematical equation to compute the precise amount of damage that the explosion does to the ship.

Note that launcher ammunition is often called "missiles" regardless of the ammunition's proper name, and thus this term can refer to any of rockets, missiles, torpedoes and bombs (even though bombs have an entirely different physical mechanics).

Contents

Missile range

When fired, a missile will leave the launcher, quickly accelerate, and then proceed at its best speed directly at the target until it runs out of fuel. If it encounters the target during that time, it will explode - otherwise it will vanish. The approximate maximum distance that a missile will travel can be found by multiplying the speed of the missile by the number of seconds that its fuel will last. (The approximation is due to the slightly slower speed as the missile accelerates at launch. Also, missile travel time is expressed in whole seconds - this can matter when targeting at extreme range.)

missile hitting an orbiting target
Missile Chases the Target
Maximum Distance ≈ Speed x Seconds of Fuel
Missile Launcher On-Screen Pop-Up

For example:

  • A Light Missile has a flight time of 5 seconds at a speed of 3750 m/s. The maximum distance it can travel is 5 x 3750 ≈ 18,750 m.
  • A torpedo has a flight time of 6 seconds at a speed of 1500 m/s. The maximum distance it can travel is 6 x 1500 ≈ 9,000 m.

There are two special cases to missile flight time.

Eve uses 1 second ticks. If the missile flight time is not an integer then the missile will fly for integer number of seconds and has a chance to fly one more second. For example missile with flight time of 12.3 seconds has 70% propability to fly for 12 seconds and 30% propability to fly for 13 seconds.[1]

The second exception is a result of the fact that missile ranges are calculated from center of the ship while ranges on overview are calculated from "edge" of the ship. To counter this large ships get small bonus to missile flight time.[2]

This information, as modified by your skills and equipment bonuses, along with the missile's dps and type of damage, is shown when you move your mouse over the icon for a missile launcher while in space.

Although the terms "range" and "distance" are often used interchangeably, technically, the range answers the question of whether the missile can reach its target: is it "in" or "out" of range? If the target is stationary, then the maximum distance will be the missile's range. Normally, however, the target is moving, and the range depends on this motion.

missile catching a fleeing target
Missile Catches Fleeing Target
missile fails to catch a fleeing target
Missile Does Not Catch Fleeing Target

If the target is moving directly away from the missile, then it will take the missile longer to reach the target than it would a stationary one. In fact, if the target is moving fast enough, the missile may not be able to reach it at all - in this case, the target would be considered "out of range." Note that the target does not have to be moving faster than the missile ... just fast enough to stay ahead of the missile until it runs out of fuel.

If the target is moving directly at the missile, then the missile will reach it much faster than it would reach a stationary target. In this case, the target may be "in range" even when it seems too far away to hit.

In most cases, however, the target will be moving in a curve with regard to the missile ship - possibly in an orbit, possibly curving towards or away from the launch. It is hard to specify the range, exactly, in these cases, but as always, the missile will head directly for the target, and it will continue as long as it has fuel. Its path is likely to be some sort of a spiral.

There is no way to control the path of a missile once it has been launched. It will point itself at its target and follow the target until it hits or runs out of fuel.

Missile Launcher firing rate

After a launcher fires its missile, it must rest for a time before it fires again - this is called the "rate of fire". Turrets also have a firing rate, but launchers are much slower.

Weapon Firing Rate (Seconds) Typical Base Damage (HP)
Cruise Missile Launcher 21 375
Light Missile Launcher 16 83
350 mm Railgun (Large) 7 34
Large Dual Heavy Beam Laser 7 34
Light Electron Blaster 2 9
Note that values are approximate; for comparison only.

There is a correlation between firing rate and the base weapon damage. In general, launchers fire more slowly, but their missiles do more damage; while turrets depend on a stream of quickly fired, but individually less potent damage bundles.[3]

Launchers also have a "reload time". This is not the firing rate, but rather the time it takes to reload the launcher after all of its missiles have been fired. When the launcher is empty, it automatically checks the cargo bay and reloads the same missiles if any are available. If none are, it will sit empty. At any time, a pilot can stop the launcher from firing and reload from the cargo bay with the same or different missiles.

Launcher and Missile types

Warning: The data shown here are for general discussions of weapons systems. Some details have been omitted. If you are fitting a ship, it is highly recommended that you use the in-game Compare Tool to evaluate the relative merits of the various launchers and missiles that you are considering. More details on specific equipment are also given in Fitting Missile Launchers.

Each launcher class can launch missiles of that class. E.g., Light Missile Launchers launch Light Missiles, as do Rapid Light Missile Launchers. Heavy Assault Missile Launchers launch Heavy Assault Missiles. Torpedo Launchers launch Torpedoes. And so on. Different types of launchers within the class vary the firing rate and other characteristics of the launchers. Typically the Tech 1 Arbalest, Limos and Malkuth launchers, as well as the Tech 2 launchers, use less CPU, have faster firing rates and are less prone to damage from overheating.

Each variety of EVE damage is available for each missile type. Inferno, Mjolnir, Nova and Scourge apply thermal, EM, explosive and kinetic damage, in that order. A given missile will apply only one variety of damage, and each missile category does the same number of hit points of damage.

Other missile types vary the flight time, base damage (hit points), and other characteristics of the missile.

  • Guristas, Caldari Navy and Dread Guristas missiles are little different from standard missiles except that they have higher base damage; Guristas least, and Dread Guristas most.
  • "Advanced" missile types come in sets:
  1. Precision versus Fury: Precision missiles have a faster, smaller explosion and will do more damage to a small, fast target - while Fury missiles, with their larger, slower explosions do more damage against larger, slower targets. Precision/Fury missiles are available for Light, Heavy and Cruise missile launchers.
  2. Long Range versus Anti-ship: Javelin long range missiles travel considerably farther than their Rage counterparts; but the Rage missiles have a significantly larger base damage. Javelin/Rage missiles are available for Rocket, Heavy Assault and Torpedo missile launchers.
The data here is from Rockets and Light Missiles, but the ratios hold for all the missile types.
Missile Flight Time Velocity Explosion Radius Explosion Velocity Base Damage
Standard Missile 5.0 3,750 40 170 83
Precision Missile 2.5 3,750 25 204 83
Fury Missile 3.75 3,750 69 143 116
Standard Rocket 2.0 2,250 20 150 33
Javelin Rocket 2.0 3,275 20 150 29.7
Rage Rocket 2.0 1,875 30 129 44.6

A launcher class and its associated missiles can be thought of as a weapons system, each of which fits best in a particular group of ships. Launchers require high power slots as well as launcher hardpoints. The power drain generally puts a lower bound on the ship size for each launcher class. Typically:

  • light and rocket launchers go in frigates and destroyers
  • rapid light, heavy and heavy assault launchers go in cruisers and battlecruisers
  • rapid heavy, torpedo and cruise launchers go in battleships
  • citadel launchers go in capital ships
  • torpedo launchers also go in T2 frigate Stealth Bombers, which have specialized attributes to accommodate them.

(Note that while bombs are fired from bomb launchers, they are unguided, area-of-effect weapons whose mechanics are not really comparable to missiles and turreted weapons.)

SUMMARY
SHIP fits LAUNCHER which fits MISSILE that comes in TYPES (Guristas, Rage, Precision, etc.) that comes in DAMAGE VARIETIES (EM, thermal, kinetic, explosive)


The following tables list launcher systems in terms of the ships into which they are usually fitted. Note that some details are missing - for a complete listing of the characteristics of a launcher or missile, use the in-game Show Info window. See Fitting Missile Launchers for more details on specific launcher types.

T1 ships with bonuses for launchers and/or missiles are also listed. For information on T2 and T3 ships, please read Missile Ships.

Small Missiles and Launchers

T1 bonused ships

Based on T1, Level I equipment ... for comparison only. Use in-game data for fitting.
Launcher Power (MW) Firing Rate (s) Reload Time (s) Missile Type Flight Time (s) Velocity (m/s) Explosion Radius (m) Explosion Velocity (m/s) Base Damage (hp)
Rocket 4 5 10 Rocket 2 2,250 20 150 33
Light Missile 6 16 10 Light Missile 5 3,750 40 150 83

Medium Missiles and Launchers

T1 Bonused Ships

Based on T1, Level I equipment ... for comparison only. Use in-game data for fitting.
Launcher Power (MW) Firing Rate (s) Reload Time (s) Missile Type Flight Time (s) Velocity (m/s) Explosion Radius (m) Explosion Velocity (m/s) Base Damage (hp)
Rapid Light Missile 73 7.8 35 Light Missile 5 3,750 40 150 83
Heavy Assault Missile 108 8 10 Heavy Assault Missile 4 2,250 125 101 100
Heavy Missile 100 15 10 Heavy Missile 6.5 4,300 140 81 142

Large Missiles and Launchers

T1 Bonused Ships

Based on T1, Level I equipment ... for comparison only. Use in-game data for fitting.
Launcher Power (MW) Firing Rate (s) Reload Time (s) Missile Type Flight Time (s) Velocity (m/s) Explosion Radius (m) Explosion Velocity (m/s) Base Damage (hp)
Rapid Heavy Missile 960 6.48 35 Heavy Missile 6.5 4,300 140 81 142
Cruise Missile 1,450 20.68 10 Cruise Missile 14 4,700 330 69 375
Torpedo 1,750 18 10 Torpedo 6 1,500 450 71 450

Note: Each race has a T2 Frigate class Stealth Bomber (CaldariManticore, MinmatarHound, AmarrPurifier, GallenteNemesis) that has a 99.65% reduction in Torpedo Launcher powergrid requirements. These ships are also bonused for torpedo damage and stealth.

Capital Missiles and Launchers

Based on T1, Level I equipment ... for comparison only. Use in-game data for fitting.
Launcher Power (MW) Firing Rate (s) Reload Time (s) Missile Type Flight Time (s) Velocity (m/s) Explosion Radius (m) Explosion Velocity (m/s) Base Damage (hp)
Rapid Torpedo 100,000 28.45 40 Torpedo 6 1,500 450 71 450
XL Cruise Missile 100,000 35.20 10 XL Cruise Missile 15 5,700 2,000 40 1,500
XL Torpedo 100,000 25.50 10 XL Torpedo 7.5 3,500 3,000 35 2,000

Specialized Missiles and Launchers

Based on T1, Level I equipment ... for comparison only. Use in-game data for fitting.
Launcher Power (MW) Firing Rate (s) Reload Time (s) Missile Type Flight Time (s) Velocity (m/s) Explosion Radius (m) Explosion Velocity (m/s) Base Damage (hp)
Defender 2 5 10 Defender 3 10,000 10 400 800
Light Missile 6 16 10 Auto-Targeting Light 5 3,750 40 170 62
Heavy Missile 100 15 10 Auto-Targeting Heavy 6.5 4,300 81 140 107
Cruise Missile 1,450 20.68 10 Auto-Targeting Cruise 14 4,700 69 330 281
Bomb 10 10 160 Bomb 12 2,500 - - 6,400

Notes:

  • When activated, Defender Launchers will scan local space for bombs within range. If a bomb is detected, the launcher will fire one Defender Missile to intercept and destroy it. If no bombs are found, the launcher will still cycle. The Defender Launcher has 120-second reactivation timer.[4]
  • When fired, an Auto-Targeting Missile will locate and target the nearest enemy ship or drone which has previously fired on you. Since they cannot be aimed, auto-targeting missiles are usually passed over in favor of regular missiles.
  • Bombs are included here for reference. Although they are launched, bombs are unguided, area of effect weapons. They do not follow the mechanics of missiles, but require some missile skills to use.

Related skills and equipment

Skills

The standard fitting skills are essential to the use of missile launchers. So are the general targeting skills — especially Signature Analysis, Target Management, and Long Range Targeting. Navigation skills that improve the velocity or maneuverability of your ship will also be useful: Navigation, Evasive Maneuvering, Fuel Conservation, and High Speed Maneuvering. Since most missile ships depend on shield tanks, you might also want to beef up your basic shield skills: Shield Compensation, Shield Management, and Shield Operation.

In addition, Eve offers pilots a number of skills specific to launched weapons systems. If you are new to missiles, train these at least to Level 3, and train higher in the ones that seem most useful to you.

Primary Missile skills

There is a specific primary missile skill for each class of missiles, and each will let you load and fire that one class. In addition, each level of the skill will improve your damage by 5% when using that particular missile class. These are somewhat cumulative - that is, you need LIght Missiles III to train Heavy Missiles, and Heavy Missiles III to train Cruise Missiles - and other dependencies apply.

Various levels of Missile Launcher Operation are needed to train these primary skills, and since Missile Launcher Operation gives a bonus to firing rate (which is essentially a DPS bonus), it makes sense to train it quickly to Level III and eventually to Level V.

Example: The Primary Skill For Light Missiles

Light missile 64 bit icon.png Light Missiles

Implants.png Attributes: Perception, Willpower

Multiplier.png Multiplier: 2x

Isk.png Price: 20k ISK

Icon skillbook2.png Prerequisites: Missile Launcher Operation II

Icon skillbook2.png I required for: T1 and Faction charges

Icon skillbook2.png III required for: Heavy Assault Missiles I; Heavy Missiles I

Icon skillbook2.png V required for: T2 charges; Light Missile Specialization I

  • Note the prerequisite items near the bottom. You cannot, for example, train Light Missiles until you have trained Missile Launcher Operation to Level 2. You cannot use T1 or Faction missiles until you train Light Missiles to Level 1, and you cannot use T2 missiles until you train Light Missiles to Level 5.
  • Most pilots train the primary skills for Rockets and Light Missiles at least to Level III first, and then move on to larger missiles and launchers as they move to larger ships.

Launcher support skills

These skills apply to missile launchers. They increase firing rate and damage, and they improve the accuracy of missiles against smaller, faster targets.

  • Missile Launcher Operation 2% Bonus to missile launcher rate of fire per skill level. This gives a bonus to DPS — and it is a prerequisite for many other missile skills. Train this one first, and plan eventually to train it to Level V.
  • Rapid Launch 3% bonus to missile launcher rate of fire per level. Essentially, a DPS increase. Also plan to train this one to Level V.
  • Warhead Upgrades 2% bonus to all missile damage per skill level. Another DPS increase, smaller than Rapid Launch, but still worth training.
  • Missile Bombardment 10% more flight time for all missiles per level. If you are planning to use a long range or "kiting" strategy, train this higher.
  • Missile Projection 10% bonus to all missiles' maximum velocity per level. Another range increase that is especially useful for "kiting".
  • Guided Missile Precision 5% decreased factor of signature radius for all missile explosions per level of skill. Proficiency at this skill increases the accuracy of a fired missile's exact point of impact, resulting in greater damage to small targets.
  • Target Navigation Prediction 10% decrease per level in factor of target's velocity for all missiles. As with Guided Missile Precision, this makes missiles more effective against small targets.

Missile Specialization skills

Some missile classes also have a "Specialization" skill. This gives you access to T2 launchers and missiles, and it provides a 2% bonus per level to the rate of fire of modules that require the specialization. Most of these require that you have trained the Primary Skill to Level V, so they are usually pursued after your other training is complete.

Equipment

Widely used equipment is listed here. See Fitting Missile Launchers for a more complete list.

Ballistic Control Systems are passive, low slot modules which increase missile damage and rate of fire. Stacking penalties apply, but many larger ships still fit three of them. Target Painters increase the signature radius of a target and make it easier to hit.

Missile Launcher Rigs come in four sizes, one for each sized launcher. All of the rigs have an increase in CPU use as their penalty. The Bay Loading Accelerator increases the rate of fire, the Hydraulic Bay Thrusters increase missile velocity, and the Warhead Calefaction Catalyst increases missile damage. Also of potential use are the Targeting Rigs, especially the Small Ionic Field Projector, which increases targeting range.

Tactics and Strategy

Turrets versus Launchers

It is difficult to compare qualitatively different weapons systems based on technical specifications. For example, here are two close range systems that are often mounted on Frigates.

Based on T1, Level I equipment ... for comparison only. Use in-game data for fitting.
Launcher Power (MW) Firing Rate (s) Reload Time (s) Missile Type Flight Time (s) Velocity (m/s) Explosion Radius (m) Explosion Velocity (m/s) Base Damage (hp)
Rocket 4 5 10 Rocket 2 2,250 20 150 33
Turret Power (MW) Firing Rate (s) Reload Time (s) Optimal Range (m) Falloff (m) Tracking Speed (rad/s) Damage Modifier Charge Base Damage (hp)
Ion Blaster 4 2 5 1,000 1,500 0.438 1.8 Lead 8
The first problem is that although both systems function by delivering damage at a distance, the turret's primary effectiveness is based in the blaster, while the launcher's primary effectiveness is based in the rocket. And it is very hard to compare the tracking speed, optimal range and falloff of the one with the flight time, explosion radius and explosion speed of the other.

In addition, the chart cannot take into account the ability of the pilot to keep the blaster within tracking range on the one hand, nor the ability of the pilot to evade damage while the rockets travel to the target on the other.

Consequently, the decision to use rockets over blasters or vice-versa should not depend on a comparison of the two weapons systems, but rather on a comparison of pilot and ship abilities. Does your ship have bonuses for one type of system or the other? Is it better suited for an armor tank (blasters) or shields (rockets)? And does the pilot have roughly the same skills in rockets as in blasters?

The bottom line: don't waste time debating over weapons systems. Improve your skills, find a ship that matches, and then find the right fit for that ship.
As an example, consider the T2 Caldari Hawk Assault Frigate.


Solo and Small Gang PvP Hawk
Hawk: Solo and Small Gang PvP Hawk
EFT
[Hawk, Solo and Small Gang PvP Hawk]
150mm Light AutoCannon II
Rocket Launcher II
Rocket Launcher II
Rocket Launcher II
Rocket Launcher II

1MN Afterburner II
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster

Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I



Cap Booster 50 x1
EMP S x1
Scourge Rage Rocket x1

Fitting template high slot label.png
2881_64.png
10631_64.png
10631_64.png
10631_64.png
10631_64.png
Fitting template mid slots label.png
438_64.png
4025_64.png
5439_64.png
32772_64.png
32772_64.png
Fitting template low slots label.png
2605_64.png
5837_64.png
Fitting template subsystem slots label.png
Fitting template drone slots label.png
Fitting template drone slots label.png
Fitting template charge slots label.png
264_64.png
185_64.png
24471_64.png
Icon dashed triangle.png
Icon dashed triangle.png
Fitting template rig slots label.png
31716_64.png
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FITTING DIFFICULTY
EVE VERSION
ODY 1.0
ALPHA CAN USE
UNSET
EFT
FLEET-UP
SKILLS
NOTES
RECOMMENDED SKILLS
NOTES
  • The Hawk is an excellent solo brawler, capable of taking on virtually any ship smaller than a cruiser at short range. You will usually want to activate one MASB at a time, as it will restore almost the entirety of your shield in one activation thanks to the Hawk's bonus.
  • As fitted, with all skills at V and before boosts, this ship has 5.8 K EHP, flies at 924 m/s (1199 m/s with AB on overheat) and align in 5.1 s (3.6 s with AB off). The ship signature radius is 42.7 m
  • Damage is 201 dps within 12.7 km, but the ship can repair 413 EHP/s indefinitely (or as long as it carries cap boosters)


The ship does well at solo PvP. It has five mid slots, which favors shields, as does its bonus to shield boosters. However, the pilot will need high level skills in a number of areas to be able to fly this ship.

Damage and range

As noted in the article on missile damage:

While a missile can apply up to 100% of the Base Damage to a ship in some situations, damage is often reduced by two factors:
  • If the target ship is moving faster than the explosion velocity of the missile. Think of this as a fast ship being able to somewhat outrun the explosion.
  • If the signature radius of the target ship is smaller than explosion radius of the missile. Think of this as a small ship flying through a large explosion and only being hit by a part of it.

In other words, missile weapons are best at doing damage to larger, slower targets at longer range. This is not to say that a pilot cannot kill small, fast targets with the right missiles, or that there are no short range missile boats. Rather, the most common applications of launcher fitted ships tend to be as longer ranged, heavy damage weapons.

Fleet roles

Because missiles are usually most effective against bigger, slower targets, missile ships in fleets often find themselves in the "sniper" role — assigned to picking off specific enemy targets (such as logistics vessels). In small fleet encounters there may be few, if any, such targets, and the encounter may in fact be over before the missile ship's damage begins to matter. As a result, missile ships are most often found in larger fleets.[5]

Kiting

As a strategy "kiting" is a plan to engage the enemy from a distance, always fleeing just fast enough to stay outside of the enemy's range while remaining inside your own range. Since kiting ships need speed and longer ranged weapons, shield tanked missile boats are good for this approach.

As a tactic, kiting requires a "hit and run" mentality. You want to approach your target until you are close enough to shoot, fire a salvo of missiles, and watch. If the enemy flees, you want to pursue; if the enemy attacks, you want to flee ... at a speed approximately the same or a bit more than the enemy ... firing all the time. Because missiles will chase the target without any further guidance from your ship, you are not restricted to any particular flight path. You simply want to stay within missile range of the target.

PvE enemies tend to be rather fanatical, locking on when they see you and never giving up. This makes kiting a popular strategy when running Missions. It takes longer to kill the NPCs, and the resulting loot can be scattered over a wide area, but your ship will take relatively little damage, and since you are already running, if you decide to break off, it is usually easy to get away.

PvP is much more difficult in this regard. Inexperienced pilots may chase you to their deaths, but experienced pilots will just let you run. PvP kiting is more likely to show up in gangs of fast ships that hit and run from multiple directions at once ... a kind of "wolfpack" attack that leaves their target unable to either run or close on a target.

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ If the flight time is a fraction, EVE rounds it up or down. At times, this produces considerable departures from the computed range. See Interesting fact about missile mechanics for details.
  2. ^ https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=6523910#post6523910
  3. ^ Exceptions exist. For example, with a firing time of around 40 seconds, 1400 mm artillery is slower than any launcher. This is a rarity, though.
  4. ^ Defender Missile update announcement
  5. ^ There do exist doctrines for entire fleets of missile ships. Fleets of Stealth Bombers, for example, are common, and there is even an E-UNI group, the UniBombers, dedicated to this style of combat.
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