Hey! Sign in to get help with your study questionsNew here? Join for free to post

Real life maths problem - missile slant range

Announcements Posted on
TSR's new app is coming! Sign up here to try it first >> 17-10-2016
    • Thread Starter

    Okay so I was posting in the News and Current Affairs area about an RAF airstrike on Da'esh. And there's a video of an RAF Tornedo hitting an ISIS vehicle with a Brimstone missile and I wanted to know if there's a scientific/mathematical way to work out the altitude of the aircraft and the distance between the target and the point on the ground below the aircraft when it launched.

    I know when the missile is launched (0:41 you can see the heat bloom in the targeting pod's camera that shows it has launched). And the missile hits at 1:05. I know the Brimstone missile travels at 450m/s so that means the slant range (or the hypotenuse) is 10800 meters (24*450)

    I also know that the aircraft passes over the target at 1:10 because the targeting pod's camera swivels around, which is what happens when it passes over and now has to look backwards to keep an eye on the target.

    Help me maths people; I'm a law student and I can't remember jack about mathematics anymore. Is the hypotenuse/slant range enough to work out the altitude of the aircraft (and therefore the distance between the point on the ground corresponding to the aircraft when it fired the missile and the target point). For argument's sake, let's assume the earth is flat for this problem. Video is below


    You'd need the angle the hypotenuse makes with the earth.

    Does the missile definitely travel in a straight line? If so you'd need one more piece of data(there are very many pieces you could use, from the angle that it hits the ground to the horizontal speed of the aircraft to the thrust of the missile and the aerodynamic constants associated with it).

    The Brimstone is an Active Missile. In other words, once it is launched we have no way of knowing what the internal components of the missile are doing. Hence there is little we can do to determine what is happening in the form of equations because the missile is not ballistic.

    However, if you were to get a missile video of a target making determined and at least partially effective evasive manoeuvres then you could draw conclusions about the maximum rate of turn etc.

    So far as working out altitude, given the approximate known size of some objects on the ground and knowledge of the planes speed (or some knowledge of the optics of the camera) you might be able to make an estimate of altitude. The assumption of the earth being flat is the least of your errors in this problem.
Write a reply…


Submit reply


Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. Oops, you need to agree to our Ts&Cs to register
  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: April 26, 2016
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Do you like sleeping in a cold room?
Useful resources

Make your revision easier


Maths Forum posting guidelines

Not sure where to post? Read here first


How to use LaTex

Writing equations the easy way

Student revising

Study habits of A* students

Top tips from students who have already aced their exams

Study Planner

Create your own Study Planner

Never miss a deadline again

Polling station sign

Thinking about a maths degree?

Chat with other maths applicants

Can you help? Study help unanswered threads

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups
Study resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.