The number of nations manufacturing land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) will increase from two to 10 in the next decade, according to a new report from the US Air Force's National Air Intelligence Center.

"The majority of new LACMs will be very accurate, conventionally armed, and available for export. The high accuracy of many LACMs will allow them to inflict serious damage on important targets, even when the missiles are armed only with conventional warheads.

"US defence systems could be severely stressed by low-flying stealthy cruise missiles that can simultaneously attack a target from several directions," the ballistic and cruise missile threat study warns.

Russia has fielded the AS-15 air-launched cruise missile and the SS-N-21 submarine-launched weapon. It is said to be working on another conventionally armed missile, the launch mode, range, and initial fielding date of which is is undetermined.

In addition to the USA and Russia, the countries slated to join the LACM manufacturing club are China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Sweden, South Africa and the UK. The report says that China's weapons development will carry either a conventional or a nuclear payload.

Source: Flight International