Modern anti-tank missiles and the requirement of rapid deployment have significantly reduced the use of passive armour in protecting land vehicles. Vehicle survivability is becoming more dependent on sensors, computers and countermeasures to detect and avoid threats. An analysis of missile propellants suggests that missile detection based on plume characteristics alone may be more difficult than anticipated. Currently, the passive detection of missiles depends on signatures with a significant ultraviolet component. This approach is effective in detecting anti-aircraft missiles that rely on powerful motors to pursue high-speed aircraft. The high temperature exhaust from these missiles contains significant levels of carbon dioxide, water and, often, metal oxides such as alumina. The plumes emits strongest in the infrared, 1 to 5micrometers , regions with a significant component of the signature extending into the ultraviolet domain. Many anti-tank missiles do not need the same level of propulsion and radiate significantly less. These low velocity missiles, relying on the destructive force of shaped-charge warhead, are more difficult to detect. There is virtually no ultraviolet component and detection based on UV sensors is impractical. The transition in missile detection from UV to IR is reasonable, based on trends in imaging technology, but from the analysis presented in this paper even IR imagers may have difficulty in detecting missile plumes. This suggests that the emphasis should be placed in the detection of the missile hard body in the longer wavelengths of 8 to 12micrometers . The analysis described in this paper is based on solution of the governing equations of plume physics and chemistry. These models will be used to develop better sensors and threat detection algorithms.