"US Army Air Defense Digest, 1972"

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Chapter 3
Current Air Defense Artillery Weapon Systems


With the advent of aircraft, armies of the world began searching for weapon systems to counter this threat. World War II brought a new era to aircraft performance and tactics. To counter these threats, air defense artillery weapons were developed with increased range and rate of fire. Many weapon systems began to use advanced types of computing sights and radar. Even with these improvements, the aircraft still had an inherent advantage in that after the projectile left the gun it was unguided (followed a ballistic trajectory), resulting in a very low kill probability.

In the fall of 1944, the first US air defense artillery missile was conceived at Fort Bliss. Development of a radically new weapon system, based on the guided surface-to-air missile as a means of destroying enemy aircraft, was begun in 1945. The project was named after Nike, the Creek goddess of victory.

The first Nike Ajar battery became operational in December 1953. Because of additional requirements, the Nike Hercules and Hawk systems were developed and produced. Currently, the Safeguard ballistic missile defense system is being deployed in CONUS to counter the ballistic missile threat.


Improved Nike Hercules, successor to the first-generation Nike Ajar air defense artillery weapon system and the second-generation basic Nike Hercules system, has dramatically demonstrated the dynamic growth potential of the Nike family of missile systems. This system increases many of the capabilities of the basic Nike Hercules system while incorporating the most advanced and sophisticated electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) equipment available.


Improved Nike Hercules, with its ability to engage high-performance aircraft at both high and low altitudes, its long ranges, and its nuclear capability, can engage and destroy an entire formation of hostile aircraft. Reliable, extremely accurate, and possessing a large killradius, the system has demonstrated its effectiveness against airborne targets travelingat speeds in excess of 2, 100 miles per hour (mach 3), at ranges greater than 75 miles, and at altitudes up to 150, 000 feet. In addition, the system can effectively engage surface targets at ranges greater than its surface-to-air range capability.

Normally, this flexible system will function as part of an integrated air defense complex; however, each firing battery is capable of functioning as an autonomous fire unit when required. The Improved Nike Hercules system is emplaced in two areas normally separated by a distance of approximately 1 to 3 miles. The fire control platoon equipment is located in the battery control area (fig 51), while equipment and facilities needed to assemble, store, check out, and launch a Nike Hercules missile are located in the launching area (fig 52)

Figure 51. Improved Nike Hercules battery control area.
Figure 52. Improved Nike Hercules launching area.

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The same basic concept of operation and command guidance is used for Nike Ajar, Nike Hercules, and Improved Nike Hercules. To understand how Nike Hercules works, only the major items of equipment need be considered: an electronic computer, three radars, a missile, and a launcher (fig 53).

Figure 53. Scheme of operations, Nike Hercules system.
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The acquisition radar detects a target which, when identified as hostile, is designated to a target tracking radar. The target tracking radar acquires and tracks the target; measures range, azimuth, and elevation to the target; and continuously sends these data to the computer. A third radar, the missile tracking radar, locks on the missile on a launcher; measures range, azimuth, and elevation of the missile in flight; and continuously sends this information to the computer. The computer, knowing the location of both target and missile, continuously computes an intercept point, directs the missile to the intercept point, and causes the burst command to be sent to the missile at the appropriate time.


The major equipment items of the fire control platoon are the director station, tracking station, target tracking radar, target ranging radar, missile tracking radar, and acquisition radar. The director station houses the computer, battery control console, and communications switchboard, The computer, using target and missile present position information, computes a predicted intercept point. With this information, it formulates the commands which the mis sile tracking radar must send to the missile to guide it to the intercept point. The battery control console is the control center of the Improved Nike Hercules system. The acquisition radar operator, stationed at this console, operates the acquisition radar, a long-range search radar capable of detecting targets approaching the defended area. From information provided by the acquisition radar and from other information supplied to the battery control console, the battery control officer analyzes the tactical situation and directs operations of the battery during an engagement. The switchboard provides the battery control officer with communications to the necessary elements of the battery.

The tracking station houses electronic equipment and electronic controls of the missile tracking, target tracking, and target ranging radars. Separate control consoles or control panels are provided for each radar. At the target radar console, three operators, using the controls and indicators, track the target designated by the battery control officer. The target tracking radar automatically sends the required target position information to the computer. The target ranging radar, used in conjunction with the target tracking radar in an electronic countermeasures environment, provides an alternate source for obtaining target range data. The missile tracking radar, manned by a single operator, will automatically acquire and track the missile during an engagement. When the missile is being tracked, the missile tracking radar provides the computer with missile present position mformation, needed to deterrmne the predicted intercept point, and transmits the commands from the computer to guide the missile to the intercept point and cause warhead detonation.


The launching area contains facilities for assembly, storage, checkout, and launching of missiles. The launching platoon equipment is composed primarily of the launching control station, launching section equipment, and associated power generating equipment.

The launching control station contains the launching control console and a communications switchboard. Under the direction of the launching control officer, a panel operator selects the launching section from which the missiles are to be fired. Each launching section contains a section control group which distributes power to the launchers within the section and exercises control of them.


The major components of the missile are received at the assembly area in shipping containers. Here the main body of the missile is assembled and the guidance unit tested. The explosive components of the missile are received and tested at the service area. The warhead is also mated to the missile body in the service area.


The Nike Hercules missile (fig 54) is a solid-propellant missile. It includes the missile body and rocket-motor cluster. When the missile is launched, it is accelerated to supersonic velocity by the rocket-motor cluster (booster). After the first few seconds of flight, the booster separates from the missile body and the missile rocket motor ignites. Guidance commands in the form of steering orders are sent from the missile tracldng radar to steer the mis sile body to the predicted intercept point. At the optimum time, warhead detonation occurs.

Figure 54. Nike Hercules missile.
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Emphasis on air defense deployed in depth in support of the army in the field prompted the Army to undertake a series of studies to determine if Nike Hercules, with a minimum of cost and new equipment, could be more effectively employed as a mobile air defense artillery system. As a result of these studies, tests were begun to explore this new potential. By modifying existing equipment and developing new equipment, a mobile Nike Hercules system was attained.

The standard launcher was converted to a mobile launcher (fig 55) by three modification kits: a transport kit consisting of an axle and kingpin suspension; a field adaption kit consisting of jacks, outriggers, and footplates; and a blast deflector kit consisting of a blast shield, emplacement linkage, and tiedown linkage. The transport and field adaption kits permit the converted mobile launcher to be towed by a prime mover and to he emplaced easily without need for a concrete pad, while the blast deflector kit helps stabilize the launcher by proper distribution of the thrust load.

Figure 55. Nike Hercules mobile launcher.
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The ready-round transporter (fig 56) was developed to carry an assembled Nike Hercules round, eliminating the necessity of missile body and rocket-motor cluster (booster) joining on the launcher. The mobile launcher receives the round directly from the ready-round transporter, thus saving time and effort.

Figure 56. Nike Hercules ready-round transporter.
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in addition, other equipment was modified to increase mobility. These items include the section operating equipment trailer (fig 57) housing the section control group; the test station truck (fig 58) containing the equipment for servicing, testing, and performing organizational maintenance on the missiles; and a dolly-mounted launcher control-indicator (fig 59).

Figure 57. Nike Hercules section operating equipment trailer.
Figure 58. Nike Hercules test station truck.

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Special tools and equipment are provided with the fire control platoon equipment to reduce the time required to emplace and march order the equipment. Cable reel racks (fig,60) are used to rapidly pick up and lay interarea cables. A vehicle-mounted A-frame is provided for emplacing the acquisition anfenna-receiver-transmitter group. A hoisting beam is provided for removing the cable reel racks from the prime movers. Thus, the capabilities of cross-country mobility and rapid emplacement and march order with minimum manpower were achieved without sacrifice of reliability or performance.

Figure 59. Nike Hercules dolly-mounted launcher control-indicator.
Figure 60. Cable reel racks.

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The Improved Nike Hercules system with its increased capability is used to extend the target detection range at selected sites. This is accomplished by adding the high-power acquisition radar (HIPAR) (fig 61). Also, the addition of the AJI and other recent modifications to the HIPAR radar has greatly increased the target detection capability in an ECM environment. The HIPAR does not nullify the usefulness of the basic acquisition radar; rather, it supplements the search ability of this system and greatly enhances the performance of the battery.

A mobile version of the HIPAR radar (AN/MPQ-44) was deployed in 1967. It is mounted on five trailers and includes all of the necessary power generating equipment to operate the entire Nike Hercules fire control system. The radar is designed to be used in the ATBM or EFS configuration and, like the fixed-site HIPAR, the mobile system also uses the presentation system of the Nike Hercules system.

Figure 61. High-power acquisition radar.
Figure 62.AN/FPS-71 antenna.

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The growth potential of the Nike system was again demonstrated when it was decided to supplement the search, acquisition, and ECCM capabilities of Nike Hercules sites not designated to receive HIPAR. The radar selected for installation at these units was designated the alternate acquisition radar (AAR). The AAR resulted from modification of the AN/FPS- 36 and AN/FPS-61 defense acquisition radars discussed in chapter 2.

The simplexed AAR AN/FPS- 75 was produced by providing integration kits so that the output of the AN/FPS-36 could be viewed on the consoles of the Nike Hercules system. The addition of ECCM capabilities converted the AN/FPS- 7j to the AN/FPS- 71 (fig 62).

The diplexed AAR is known as the A~/FPS-69. It is derived from the AN/FPS-61 defense acquisition radar and for tactical usage was designed to be deployed on a collocated site where it serves both as an AAR and DAR.

In 1965, the operation of both the AN/FPS-71 and the AN/FPS-69 radars was further enhanced by increased power output, greater receiver sensitivity, and more efficient moving target indicator circuits; and the nomenclature was changed to Improved AN/FPS-71 or Improved AN/FPS-69.

The AN/FPA-16 and AN/FPA-15 ECCM consoles are video presentation monitor systems employed with the AN/FPS-71 and AN/FPS-69, respectively. Under control of two operators and an electronic warfare officer, these consoles provide a central control point for operation of the AAR and a comparison point where the output of the AAR and low-power acquisition radar (LOPAR) can be monitored. Using the displays available at the consoles, the operators may quickly determine which ECCM features of the two acquisition radars will provide the battery control officer with the best video presentation in complex ECM environments.


On 3 lune 1960, a Nike Hercules missile destroyed a Corporal surface-to-surface missile (fig 63), the first known kill of a ballistic missile by another missile. On 12 August 1960, a Nike Hercules missile destroyed another Nike Hercules missile that had been launched as a target (fig 64). The Nike Hercules missile presented a far more difficult target than the Corporal missile, having a higher velocity and smaller size. Further tests have been conducted to determine the extent of ATBM capability.

Figure 63. Nike Hercules missile destroys Corporal missile.
Figure 64. Nike Hercules missile destroys another Nike Hercules missile.

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The use of air defense artillery in a secondary role against surface targets has historical precedent in both World War II and Korea. When surface-to-air missiles replaced antiaircraft guns, it appeared that this traditional role would no longer exist. It is common knowledge that Improved Nike Hercules has a deadly capability against high-performance aerial targets. Not so well known, however, is that the pinpoint accuracy of Nike Hercules against distant surface targets permits it to effectively engage enemy ground concentrations.

Since the inception of the Nike Hercules program, the tactical advantage of developing Nike Hercules into a highly mobileweapon to support the army in the field has been recog nized. In 1959, the potential of NikeHercules as a mobile air defense artillery weapon became evident and interest in the surface-to-surface capability increased.

In 1960, the US Army Air Defense School began presenting formal instruction on Nike Hercules surface-to-surface employment and computation of firing data. During 1961, troop firings provided additional testing of Nike Hercules as a surface weapon. The US Army Air Defense School, US Army Artillery and Missile School, US Army Air Defense Board, and the prime contractor have studied numerous concepts and made subsequent recommendations regarding organization and mobility to improve the Nike Hercules system capability in the surface-to- surface role. Nike Hercules, with its quick reaction time, can be used to attack targets of opportunity with nuclear warheads in support of field army operations.


In preparing for a surface-to-surface mission, firing data are computed by an air defense artillery group operations section (or battalion operations section in a separate battalion defense). The data required by the firing battery are target range, azimuth, and elevation; fuze setting for proper height of burst; and computer dial settings. Figure 63 shows the scheme of operation for a Nike Hercules surface-to-surface mission.

Target range, azimuth, and elevation are set into the target tracking radar, and dial settings are made on the computer. The missile is fired, tracked by the missile tracking radar, and steered toward an aiming point above the target. As far as the system is concerned, the missile is heading toward a stationary target in space. At the proper instant the missile is given a dive command to position it in the proper attitude to hit the target. After the dive command is executed, the missile tracking radar ceases tracking and the missile continues to the target on a ballistic trajectory.

Figure 65. Nike Hercules surface-to-surface scheme of operation.
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Entering the computed firing data into the Nike Hercules system is relatively easy. Tests conducted at Fort Bliss show that the time required for making the required settings does not exceed 5 minutes. During the time a battery is engaged in a surface-to-surface mission, it is still capable of searching with its acquisition radar to locate any approaching airborne object. After successfully completing the surface-to-surface mission, the battery can return to its air defense mission in a matter of seconds.


Under current concepts, Nike Hercules units are assigned to the field army in an active theater of operations. The use of Nike Hercules in a surface-to- surface mission in the field army will depend on the authority delegated to the field army commander by the regional air defense commander. Normally, the regional air defense commander will delegate authority for operational employment of organic Army air defense artillery units. The field army commander then may utilize Nike Hercules in a surface-to-surface mission. if operational employment of air defense artillery units has not been delegated to the field army commander, the regional air defense commander must approve the mission. When Nike Hercules is to be employed in a surf ace- to- surface role, coordination must he effected at the tactical operations center among the fire support element, airspace coordination element, units selected for the mission, and the Army air defense commander. The fire mission will then be relayed from the airspace coordination element to the AADCP. 711e Army air defense commander will designate an air defense artillery group (battalion) to perform the mission.


Normally, Nike Hercules units are utilized only with the field army in a theater of operations. Fire units overseas may be deployed inthe area defense to provide proper coverage throughout the area being defended, hut weighted toward priority areas and exposed boundaries.

Early target kill is desired and achieved by placing Nike Hercules well forward in the field army area; however, units normally should not be positioned any closer than 30 kilometers from the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA).

Within CONUS, Nike Hercules is deployed about the vital area to provide a balanced defense, one which can deliver an approximately equal amount of firepower along all direc tions of attack. It is used by Army air defense to give NORAD an inner ring of defenses around target areas which encompass more than 100 cities and military bases.


Although the AN/MPQ-36, the basic engagement simulator for the Nike Hercules system, was an important aid in training, simulated targets and ECM could be readily distinguished from true presentations. A contract to improve greatly the AN/MPQ-36 during 1963-65 was awarded in December 1961. Designated the guided missile system radar-signal simulator station AN/MPQ-T1 (fig 66), the first deliveries occurred in July 1964. The first maintenance class started training in October 1964.

The AN/MPQ-T1 is a compact, transistorized engagement simulator designed for the Nike Hercules and Improved Nike Hercules systems and associated radars (HIPAR and AAR). The improved simulator introduces realistic target simulation, sophisticated ECM, and chaff. Masking effects and radar clutter, variable with antenna elevation, as well as identification responses from friendly aircraft, can be simulated.

Up to six independent simulated targets, generated by controlled electronic signals, can be displayed on the radar screens. Each target can travel at speeds up to 2,000 knots and at altitudes up to 150, 000 feet, dive at a rate of 80,000 feet per minute and climb at half that rate, and turn at rates up to 200 per second. Size of targets can be varied to produce calibrated returns of any desired dimension from 0.1 to 100 square meters. The device can simulate a Nike Hercules missile, initiate the burst command by either the computer or simulator, program missile malfunctions, and fire additional missiles after a burst order.

The addition of ECM and chaff cabinets provides one of the most important capabilities of the simulator--the ability to simulate several types of countermeasures which an enemy may be expected to use. Effects of mechanical jamming and five types of electronic jamming can he produced and displayed on the radar screens of the Nike Hercules system. Chaff, for instance, can be simulated as being dispensed or ?, laterally, or to the rear of the simulated target or targets.

Figure 66. Nike Hercules system engagement simulator AN/MPQ-T1
Image size = 35 K bytes

Training under simulated tactical conditions is provided by the AN/MPQ-T1, enabling Nike Hercules fire control operators to develop the speed and accuracy necessary to engage successfully actual combat targets. This simulator provides an improved, much-needed aid in training operators by use of organic scoring panels and error recorders. These timers and sensing devices provide a permanent record of operator performance.

All components of the AN/MPQT1 are housed in a semitrailer that has a dolly and towbar at the front. Equipped with a prime mover, the simulator is mobile over primary or secondary roads.

AN/MPQ-T1 simulators are presently available at McGregor Range for use by units engaged in annual service practice (ASP). In recent years, 100 percent of all targets used for scored firings at McGregor Range were generated by simulators, resulting in substantial monetary savings to the Government.

-------- This is the end of the converted part of the 1972 Digest -------

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Updated July 15, 1998