Missile batteries, missile tubes, and missile launchers are weapon emplacements aboard Cylon and Colonial military ships capable of firing conventional or nuclear ship to ship, or ship to ground ordnance. They are protected against damage by retraction mechanisms on Cylon craft, and by external hatches on Colonial craft, and vary in size depending on the class of ship. Some missile launchers are even placed on planetary and other astral surfaces.
On Colonial craft, missiles are not the first line of defense or offense when in battle. Instead, Colonials prefer to use large gun batteries, however, Colonial military craft are prepared to utilize missile delivery systems, usually as a last line of defense against an aggressor. Missiles are prepped for use by moving the missiles into an upright launching position. Once the missiles are loaded into the tubes and are ready to be fired, they must be armed with a target package and a point of aim. This is typically ordered by the vessel's Commanding Officer, with the order being relayed by the Tactical Officer (TRS: "Rapture").
Despite many fail safes, missile tubes can take damage that can jam the tubes, and prevent a missile launch. If need be, Colonial commanders can receive manual control over the missiles in the tubes, and detonate them from the ship's CIC, in a kamikaze run against enemy targets (TRS: "Blood and Chrome").
Smaller ships in the Colonial Fleet, such as the Orion class and Valkyrie type battlestars, and even the Colonial Raptors, also have smaller, defensive ship-to-ship missile batteries designed to strike down smaller craft, e.g. Cylon Raiders, before switching over to the larger, more effective main batteries (TRS: "Blood and Chrome", "Hero", "He That Believeth in Me").
Missile launch systems are the primary weapon of the Cylon fleet. They have been utilized on Cylon craft dating all the way back to the First Cylon War, and are still utilized by the Cylons after the Fall of the Twelve Colonies. Despite being vulnerable to electronic countermeasures, Cylon based missile systems have proven to be quite powerful, and destructive.
During the First Cylon War, the Cylons used missiles that were able to penetrate the armor on Colonial ships, which were able to deliver a great deal of damage. In addition to automated surface-to-air launcher emplacements on asteroids, these missiles were also deployed on ground-based war machines throughout Cylon war zones (TRS: "Blood and Chrome", "Razor").
As part of their ship to ground systems, the Cylons utilize a Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) payload, delivered from basestars in orbit, to attack the Twelve Colonies with nuclear warheads, which resulted in the total destruction of the Colonies (TRS: "The Plan"). These basestars then switched over to conventional ordnance to attack and destroy the disabled Colonial Fleet (TRS: "Miniseries"). Following the Fall, a common Cylon tactic is to surprise a Colonial crew by quickly launching a nuclear salvo before deploying Raiders and switching to non nuclear ordnance (TRS: "The Captain's Hand").
Smaller Cylon craft, such as the Raider, also carry nuclear and conventional missile launch systems, however, they generally rely on their automatic cannons for offensive and defensive purposes. Despite their small size, missiles delivered from Cylon Raiders are capable of inflicting great damage to Colonial craft if they are able to get in close enough (TRS: "Miniseries", "Razor", "Daybreak, Part II").
Specialized missile batteries are placed on the Cylon Colony to defend against any aggressors. These missile cannons retract from the hull, upon detection of an enemy combatant, and work to overwhelm enemy targets with multiple shots per second in a concentrated kill zone (TRS: "Daybreak, Part II").
- While the release of biological and chemical weapons are normally illegal for the Colonial Fleet and requires a presidential mandate (TRS: "A Measure of Salvation"), the release of nuclear ordnance, even used against planets and not just in space, has no such requirement (TRS: "The Eye of Jupiter").
For Blood and Chrome, the Cylon SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) platform were envisioned by visual effects artist David Morton as tread-driven mobile emplacements outfitted with machine gun emplacements and missile launchers. While the scenes were filmed and later cut, with rough visual effects shots composited (and made available via special content found on home video releases), the fully realized Cylon SAM concept art was made available in the years after Blood and Chrome's official release.