Missiles are self-propelled projectiles intended for dealing damage to other ships and structures. While they will all hit moving targets, the damage they deal can be affected by the size, signature radius and velocity of the target ship. Caldari (and some Minmatar) ships favor missiles over other weapons, although many Amarr and Gallente ships have missiles available as a supplementary weapon.
Missiles are available in various sizes, for a range of ship classes and types, though in order to use them a ship must have at least one launcher hardpoint in order to fit the appropriate missile launcher. There are two missile 'flavors' available for each class of ship; one being a short-ranged, high-damage weapon, and the other longer-ranged but low damaging.
Table of Current Missile Naming System
The following table shows the relationship between damage type, name, and icon detail colour for missiles (also rockets, torpedoes etc). Each flavour of damage type is available in all missile sizes and types, e.g. there are Mjolnir Rockets, Scourge Heavy Assault Missiles, and Inferno Citadel Torpedoes etc available.
If you want to read more about which types of damage you should be inflicting against different types of NPC enemies then please see the relevant section in the Damage Types guide.
Table of Archaic Missile Names
The changes occurred with the Crucible expansion (EVE homepage expansion page clicky) in November 2011. Please see the above section for current naming trend of all sizes of missiles in EVE.
Speculation: It may be historically interesting to note that the names "Mjolnir", "Scourge" and "Inferno" all appear in the outdated names table above and that the name chosen universally for explosive damage missiles was "Nova" meaning "new". Might there be a link between the choice of name and the fact that the devs had to or felt they had to pick a new name?
Advantages and Disadvantages
Missiles have a consistent and versatile damage output, and are capable of dealing single damage types. As such, missiles are valuable in PvP combat, as they allow a pilot to exploit a weakness in an opponent's tank. It is also impossible for a missile to miss a target, unless the target outruns the missile, moves out of range, or disengages and warps away.
However, missiles can be destroyed in flight (either with Defender missiles or with a well-timed smartbomb detonation), partially or completely nullifying the attacker's damage output. Missiles are also unpopular in fleet battles, as the missile's flight time can result in it arriving after the target has been destroyed.
Support Skills, Modules and Rigs
The following skills improve missile or missile launcher performance:
The following modules and rigs also improve missile performance (at the expense of increased missile launcher CPU usage in the case of rigs; see Missile Launcher Rigs):
Tech II Missiles
Unlike turrets, missiles will always deal damage to a target if they impact against it, regardless of the target's speed, radial velocity, or size (signature radius). Instead, the damage that the missile deals is affected.
As missiles do not have tracking speeds, a missile launched at a target will do the same damage if the target's speed remains the same. In other words, the damage dealt to a target orbiting the launcher at 300m/s and a target flying directly at the launcher at 300m/s will be exactly the same.
The important factor in this scenario is the speed of the target ship. When a missile hits a target, the speed of the target is compared to the Explosion Velocity of the missile. For example, if when a Scourge Heavy Missile - which has a base Explosion Velocity of 81m/s - is fired, the Explosion Velocity is much lower than the target's speed, then damage is significantly reduced as the target is outrunning most of the missile's damage.
The other factor that will decrease missile damage is Signature Radius. The Scourge Missile previously used has a Explosion Radius of 125m - if this missile is fired against a target with a smaller Signature than its Explosion Radius, damage will again be reduced, as only a small portion of the explosion is affecting the target. Although if your missile hits a target whose signature radius is greater than the explosion radius of your missile then the explosion velocity of your missile is increased by the same multiple.
While these two rules are merely generalizations, a more complicated calculator that will aid in calculating damage output against various targets is available here.
EVElopedia Missile Type Database
You can explore the whole family of missile types in the Ammunition and Charges Item Database.
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