An intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is a long-range (greater than 5,500 km or 3,500 miles) ballistic missile.


It is typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery. However, new designs contemplated by the Nations, envision a conventional or even inert (non-explosive) payload, relying on the great speed at impact to cause significant damage. Due to their great range and firepower, in an all-out nuclear war, submarine and land-based ICBMs would carry most of the destructive force, with nuclear-armed bombers, the remainder.

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