A surface-to-air missile, commonly referred to as SAM, is a type of anti-aircraft weapon. One of the most basic weapons of a military force, it is a class of missile designed to seek and destroy enemy aircraft.
Numerous types of surface-to-air missile system exist. These range from vehicle-mounted launchers to soldier-portable weapons to vessel-based platforms.
- Land-based platforms: land-based SAM platforms exist in two main forms, as either fixed mountings or mobile, vehicle based systems.
- Man-portable launch systems: missile launchers designed to be carried and operated by infantry. Although not as accurate as their larger counterparts, they can be used from a concealed position, or to attack low-flying aircraft such as helicopters. The missiles launched from these weapons can accelerate to pursue fast-moving targets.
- XSAM: short for "Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile", it is a modified SAM platform. Its enhanced tracking system greatly increases its missiles' accuracy, making them the most dangerous type of surface-to-air missile system a pilot can encounter.
- AAM: "Air-to-Air Missile". A special SAM platform mounted on large-size aircraft. Often used by heavy command cruisers, or by B-2 Spirit bombers.