This video compilation by The Joint Forces Channel shows actual footage of air to ship attacks, where anti-ship missiles are launched with ships as the targets. Some of the clips appear to be from many years ago, and none of the targeted ships appear to be firing at the attacking jets.
In the first one, a jet deploys a large missile, which can clearly be seen making a beeline for a small ship. The missile misses and hits water just a few feet over the ship’s location. The second clip shows a jet launching a missile that lands smack in the center of a ship, breaking it in half. Then a helicopter aims at a large ship and the view from the pilot’s seat shows the projectile hitting the front of the ship, blowing it off.
In another scene, a jet takes off from a carrier and uses a guidance system to fire at an enemy ship. More clips show similar scenarios, although in one, the missile detonates in the air just before it hits the target. Almost all the ships in the video explode in a fiery blast.
Most anti-ship missiles are sea skimming, and use a combination of aerial guidance and radar homing to reach targets. Some modern missiles use infrared homing to follow heat signatures that ships emit.
The first anti-ship missiles, the Henschel Hs 293, were developed and built by Nazi Germany for use during World War II. These sank at least 40 ships in the Mediterranean Theater from 1943-1944. Contemporary missiles can be launched from just about any kind of equipped aircraft, including submarines, fighter and patrol planes and helicopters. Those with longer ranges are often referred to as anti-ship cruise missiles.
As evidenced by the video, these weapons pose a significant threat to surface ships, as once a missile is launched, a ship can’t outrun or out-turn it.