(photo author)

The NIKE Hercules system

at the 12th Group Guided Arms during the Cold War

Ronald Dorenbos


This article aims to provide an overview of the technical and operational specifications of the NIKE Hercules system, as used by the 12th Wired Arms Group of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (KLu) and its predecessors. It discusses the operation and the deployment of the system as well as the activities that characterized life on a NIKE squadron.

The following document is compiled on the basis of the author's memory, documentation available from the Historical Collection of Ground-based Air Defense (HCGLVD) and reliable documentation from the internet. The document concentrates on the NIKE system in the implementation and as deployed in the last years of the operational use by the KLu, because that corresponds with the personal experiences of the author.

The author is indebted to ELt drs. Frank Rappange (former BCO), AOO Hans de la Mar (former LCO) and Lt-Kol bd André Polfliet for their contributions and constructive comments. Also gratitude is due to the Netherlands Institute for Military History, Ed Thelen, Greg Brown and Ramiro Carli Ballola for making photos and documentation available. For the consulted sources see the overview at the end of the article.

A number of aspects of the NIKE system (eg the strength of the nuclear warheads used) are still classified information. In those cases, the ' facts & figures ' referred to in public sources will be used, without this article confirming those details.

During operations with the NIKE system, English was the official language. That is why the English names and abbreviations are used in this article, also because a good Dutch translation does not always exist. A list of abbreviations is added at the end of the document.

(photo author)



NIKE Ajax (front) and 2x NIKE Hercules at 1GGW, ca. 1963 (photo NIMH)


'BCO to all stations: Blue Status, Blazing Skies, Case III, Surface to Air, BHE' 1


The NIKE weapon system was a guided weapon against air missiles ( Surface-to-Air Missile / SAM), operational in use at the Royal Netherlands Army between 10 October 1961 and 31 March 1988. All - in the first instance eight - weapon systems were located in the Federal Republic of Germany. roughly in the Nordhorn-Osnabrück-Bielefeld-Wesel area. The weapon system was primarily intended for the control of enemy aircraft at high and high altitudes and to a considerable distance, with both conventional (high explosive) and nuclear warheads. The weapon system was limited for the control of aircraft at lower altitudes.

The secondary task was the deployment as nuclear precision artillery against ground targets. In the period from 1967 to 1978, one weapon system was adapted to combat enemy tactical ballistic missiles.

History NIKE Ajax and Hercules. For a comprehensive history of the introduction of the NIKE system, reference is made to 'Blazing Skies' (Nederlof, 2002) and 'United on the ground, decisively in the air' (van Loo, Maaskant, Starink and van der Vegt, 2017).

In 1958, the Netherlands decided to make use of the US offer for a Mutual Defense Assistance Program (in the US terminology a battalion: there NIKE was assigned to the US Army).) To make NIKE available free of charge and to train its staff. That group would then have to be stationed in West Germany. After some tribal conflict between Land and Air Force, the Minister of Defense decided that the NIKE was assigned to the KLu. At the end of 1958 NATO requested the Netherlands to set up a second group of NIKE. Again, the USA made the systems available, under the same condition. After the training of the personnel for the 1st Group Guided Arms (1GGW) in the USA in the years 1958/9, on October 10, 1961 the 119 Squadron could be the first Dutch (and European) NIKE unit ready for operation to NATO. The units of 1GGW were equipped with a mix of NIKE Ajax and Hercules missiles ( missiles). The 2GGW established in April 1963, however, was equipped exclusively with the NIKE Hercules. The NIKE Ajax missiles had already been phased out at the end of 1964 at 1GGW.

The NIKE Ajax (US designation MIM-3 or NIKE-I) was a two-stage guided weapon against air targets ( targets ). The first stage (the booster ) provided a thrust for a few seconds to launch the missile and give an initial speed. The booster contained a solid fuel. After the burning and depositing of the booster , the second stage (the actual missile ) was activated. This contained liquid fuel that had a limited shelf life in the fuel tanks of the missile . Draining and re-pumping the missile was a regularly recurring and high-risk business involving personnel wearing protective clothing and masks. The missile had three explosive charges that together with detonation formed a fragmentation pattern that should effectively switch off the target . The maximum effective range of the NIKE Ajax was 48 km with a maximum height of 21 km.

1 Traditional announcement of a crewdrill by the BCO


The air threat assumed by the USA in the early 1960s consisted mainly of large formations Soviet bombers equipped with atomic weapons. To counter the threat, there was a need for an improved version of the NIKE. That became the NIKE Hercules (US: MIM-14, initially known as NIKE-B). The NIKE Hercules was designed, among other things, to be able to transport a nuclear cargo with which a whole formation of bombers could be switched off with one shot. The effective distance range of the NIKE Hercules was (in theory) increased to 170,000 yards (155 km) at a maximum altitude of 100,000 ft (30 km). The NIKE Hercules was also a two-stage rocket with both booster and missilesolid fuel. This enabled the Hercules to maintain a long-term preparedness for a long time. The fire control and launch equipment for the NIKE Ajax and Hercules were virtually identical so that both types of missiles could be used side by side for some time.

Various improvements have been made to the NIKE Hercules system over the years. The guidance section of the missile was improved (the type designation was now MIM-14C), the radars were improved and additional radars were added to better cope with electronic warfare and eventually the radars and the computer were digitized.

The NIKE system was transportable but not tactically mobile. This means that the system components were partly provided with wheels and could be driven, other components could be moved in other ways. Reducing, transporting and building up the bulky and heavy system components, however, was so time-consuming and labor-intensive that a relocation under combat conditions was not opportune and therefore was not practiced. In addition, the NIKE system required a well-prepared, hardened location and alignment of the system components made extremely high demands on the accuracy: the tolerance was 0.5 mil2 (about 0.03º).

A second tactical limitation of the NIKE system was the low rate of fire and the inability to combat two or more targets at the same time. As will be described later, only one target could be tracked at a time and only one missile could be fired at the same time. Only when this interception ( engagement) was completed could a next target be fought, or a second missile would be fired at the first target if the first interception had not been successful. In order to be able to cope with an attack of some size, many NIKE systems were therefore required. Alone in the area of ??theSecond Allied Tactical Airforce (2ATAF, West Germany north of the global Eifel-Kassel line) had around 36 NIKE systems stationed around 1975. A considerable number, but insufficient to be able to counter a concentrated attack over one axis.

2 360º = 6400 mils; 1mil is the width angle between two points at one meter apart as seen from a distance of 1000 meters or 0.05625º


The third tactical limitation was that the NIKE system was designed to defend continental America against high-flying enemy bombers, much as Germany defended itself against the allied strategic bombers during the Second World War. West Germany, however, bordered on the Warsaw Pact and due to the short flight distance, West Germany could also be reached by low-flying tactical fighter jets. Against this, the NIKE system was not designed, although it had limited capacity against low-flying targets .

In 1975, a reorganization of the KLu-guided weapon units took place and, among other things, the number of NIKE weapon systems was reduced from eight to four, with 1 and 2GGW being merged into the 12th Group Guided Arms (12GGW). Between 1983 and 1988 these last four units were phased out one by one to provide financial and personnel space for the introduction of the PATRIOT weapon system at the KLu. On 31 March 1988 the deactivation took place 118 Sq as the last operational Dutch NIKE squadron and the discontinuation of 12GGW.

'Prepare to engage, Red Status3 '

(photo archive author)

3 Command of the BCO to be ready for firing.



A NIKE weapon system was the core of a squadron (Sq), the basic unit at the KLu. A squadron consisted of a commander, a care and administrative flight, a technical flight, a ground-operational flight and an operational flight. Geographically, a squadron was divided into an administrative area, an integrated fire control area ( IFC) and a launch area ( Launcher Control Area / LCA, usually known as LA). The mutual distance between IFC and LA was between 1000 and 6000 yards (900-5400 m), the administrative area could be located miles from the IFC / LA.

The personnel strength of a nuclear squadron amounted to around 240 people, of which about half were conscripted personnel. The staff of a squadron consisted of the squadron commander, his lieutenant adjutant as responsible for the administrative and nursing tasks, and the commanders of the operational, technical and ground-operational (security) flights. The operational flight existed alongside the Commandant Operational Flight / COV and his two non-commissioned officers-added for fire control respectively and three crews (combat crews ) led by a Battery Control Officer / BCO, a total strength of about 100 people. A crewconsisted of a fire control part at the IFC and a launch part at the LA and was physically separated during operations. The fire control section of a crew consisted of at least nine people and the launch part of at least 20 people. Due to the phased rotation of conscript staff, the need for additional personnel for consignment services, reception of sick or otherwise absent staff and the training task of the squadrons for incoming staff, in general more staff was available than the minimum required. A complete crew consisted of approximately 35 people in average.

12GGW consisted of the following units:

  • Group headquarters in Hesepe (with the Group Operation Center / GOC in Vörden)
  • 118 Sq in Vörden (A-Btry)
  • 120 Sq in Borgholzhausen (C-Btry)
  • 220 Sq in Schöppingen (B-Btry)
  • 223 Sq in Rheine (D-Btry)

In the NATO terminology, a squadron was designated as Battery (Btry) and a Group as Batallion (Bn). For example, 118 Sq within the NATO was known as A-Btry, 12 Bn, or '12A'.

At the IFC there was the fire control equipment, ie the radars, radar control equipment, command facilities and supporting systems, for example generators for the power supply. The IFC were the Battery Control Trailer (BCT, also BC by called) from which operations by the BCO and were led Radar Control Trailer (RCT, also known as RC from where the wait staff), the target grades was working. There was also a Maintenance and Supply (M & S) Trailer or - of (in which the fire control engineers of the technical service (known as 226 'and the American function code for these personnel)) had their domicile). Finally populated the IFC.


At the LA is found to be the three launch sections each with three launchers ( launchers ) . The launch operations were led by the Launcher Control Officer / LCO from the Launcher Control Trailer / LCT. The LCO led the three Section Chiefs on the Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Section respectively . Furthermore, the vast majority of the surveillance flight was operating here. This in connection with the nuclear task of three of the four NIKE squadons of 12GGW, which obviously required an intensive monitoring effort. On the LA there were also the Assembly Building (where the missiles were assembled and checked) and theWarhead Building (where the explosive charge, the rocket engine and the booster were applied). Furthermore, the LA hosted the launch and missile technicians (225s, as the American function code for this personnel was) and the personnel of the Ground Equipment (GU, among others responsible for the inverters and generators).

In peacetime, the NIKE system operated on the power supply from the public electricity grid, which was supplied by inverters to the correct voltage and frequency. (120 V / 400 Hz) was converted. During exercises and actual deployment, the system worked autonomously on electricity generated by diesel generators.

The administrative area included all other facilities such as alloys, dining rooms, medical post, equipment, transport unit, sports facilities etc. An exception to this situation was the 118 Sq in Vörden, which in terms of facilities was largely dependent on that of the Group Headquarters of 12GGW in nearby Hesepe.

At the 118, 120 and 220 Sq a team of the 509th United States Army Artillery Detachment (USAAD) was added in connection with the nuclear task of these squadrons.

Schematic overview IFC and LA, not to scale



The NIKE weapon system was based on the ' command guidance ' principle. That is, after the launch, the missile was led from the ground to the target by control commands . These control commands were generated by a computer on the basis of a comparison of the position, course, height and speed of the target and that of the missile determined by a target level radar . The missile was followed by a private radar. The computer brought the missile to a point in the airspace where the target would be located and gave the missile the task to detonate itself, in which case the target would also be destroyed.

Radars. The NIKE weapon system used pulse radars. With a pulse radar, a signal with a large power in a narrow beam is emitted by the radar for a very short time (eg 2 microseconds). Then the radar switches to the reception mode. The radar will be in receiver mode for a relatively long time (eg 1 millisecond). Meanwhile, the transmitted pulse travels through the air at the speed of light (300,000 km / s) until it hits an aircraft. Part of the radar energy will be reflected back by the aircraft in the direction of the radar. If the radar is still in the receiving mode and the signal is sufficiently strong, this echo can be received, processed and made visible. The distance to the targetis then half of the time between sending and receiving the radar pulse (which has to travel twice the distance between radar and target ) times 300,000 km. Tracking a target using radar energy reflected by the target is called skin track .

The maximum range of a radar depends on the transmitted power, the sensitivity of the receiver ( Signal / Noise ratio ) and the pulse repetition frequency ( Pulse Repetition Frequency / PRF: the number of pulses transmitted per second, which in turn determines how long the radar is receive mode until the next pulse is transmitted). The required power of the radar is proportional to the fourth power of the distance: to allow a radar to detect an identical target at twice the distance, 16 times more power is required, for three times that distance 81 times more power. Furthermore, the size of the reflective surface ( Radar Cross Section / RCS) of the target affects the detection range, the atmospheric conditions and the line-of-sight (LoS; unobstructed view: radars can not see through mountains, for example) between radar and target . To improve that line of sight, all radars, except the HIPAR, were placed on a dyke of a few meters high. The HIPAR was on a stand.

Fire control equipment.
The NIKE system used the following radars. LOPAR ( Low Power Acquisition Radar ). The LOPAR was a surveillance radar that could detect targets up to a distance of up to 250,000 yards (about 230 km). The radar operated at a variable frequency between 3100-3400 MHz (wavelength approx. 10 cm) with a maximum power of 1 Megawatt and a PRF of 500 pulses per second. The LOPAR was a pulse radar that emitted a radar wave in a narrow azimuth angle (approx. 1º wide) but with a large elevation range, a so-called cosecant square / CSC² pattern.


From left to right IFF, HIPAR and LOPAR (photo NIMH)

HIPAR - photo NIMH

The operator could also change the elevation of the radar wave from + 2º to a maximum of + 22º to better track targets at different heights. The radar turned around at a set speed of 5, 10 or 15 revolutions per minute. The LOPAR was equipped with a Moving Target Indicator / MTI circuit with which targets could be better identified between the echoes of static objects, interference of weather and traffic etc. (the so-called clutter ). The target echoes detected by the LOPAR were displayed on a display tube for the BCO, the Plan Position Indicator / PPI.

HIPAR ( High Power Acquisition Radar ). The HIPAR was a search radar with a maximum reach of 350,000 yards (about 320 km) with an RCS of the target of 15 m². This too was a pulse radar that worked in the frequency band of 1350-1450 MHz (wavelength approx. 23 cm) on one of 10 selectable frequencies and with a PRF of 400 to 450 pulses per second. The maximum power was 7.5 Megawatts. The HIPAR was equipped with an MTI circuit and had circuitry to minimize the effects of enemy electronic interference ( jamming ) as much as possible. The radar antenna could rotate at 6.7 or 10 revolutions per minute. The target echoes detected by the HIPAR were also displayed on the PPI. However, the operator had to make a choice between either HIPAR or LOPAR images, but it did not work at the same time.

The HIPAR was a later addition to the NIKE weapon system (1967 for GOC / 118 Sq, 1980 for the other squadrons) with the primary aim of providing the GOC with a radar image. However, the large scope also provided more time for detecting, identifying and intercepting tactical ballistic missiles and normal targets , which is why the HIPAR was introduced at all KLu NIKE squadrons. LOPAR and HIPAR were operated by the same radar operator . Of the HIPAR, both a transportable version and a version existed in a fixed arrangement. The HIPARs within 12GGW were from the version 'permanent setup'.

The target echoes of both LOPAR and HIPAR could be displayed in more detail and slightly enlarged on a Precision Indicator / PI next to the PPI. For example, it was possible to recognize whether the target echo involved one or more targets that were close to each other .


TTR ( Target Tracking Radar ). The TTR was a pulse radar with a narrow-focused radar beam of 1.4º diameter (a so-called pencil beam ). The radar operated at a variable frequency in the band of 8500-9600 MHz (wavelength approx. 3 cm) with a maximum range of 200,000 yards (about 180 km) and a PRF equal to that of HIPAR or LOPAR, which of these two search radars were selected. The TTR could work in both short pulse (pulse duration 0.25 microsecond) and long pulse (pulse duration 2.5 microsecond) mode. In short pulse mode the maximum power was 201 kW, in lung pulse mode 142 kW. The TTR also had the option of multipulse mode.This option was sealed in peacetime and should only be used after permission under war conditions. The multipulse mode was in fact an excellent tool against enemy jamming and it had to be kept as a surprise for the enemy as long as possible.

A-Scope (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

B-Scope (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

The TTR was operated by three operators for azimuth (width angle), elevation (height angle) and range (distance), each with a so-called A-scope. If the BCO selected a target on the PPI and this target was transmitted electronically (' designate' ) to the TTR operators, a small cut-out of the PPI image around the target at the TTR operators was presented on a B-scope. This image gave the global azimuth and the range of the target .

The TTR automatically turned to this azimuth and global range, but in elevation it had to be manually searched for the target . Once the target was visible and centered on the three A-scopes, the target could be locked . This means that (in the absence of jamming ) the TTR automatically followed the target . This was possible because the receiver of the TTR consisted of four parts, arranged two by two. Here, the received signal in the left two receivers or the upper two receivers was continuously compared with that of the right two / lower two. The TTR controlled itself in azimuth and elevation to keep the signals in each of the four receiving channels equally strong and thus to remain exactly aligned with the target . For range there was a system where the target echo was automatically held in the middle of the range gate . Manually ( manual tracking ) the targetfollowing the TTR was also possible, as well as semi-automatic by setting an angular speed (' aided tracking '). Both of these options were widely used in electronic interference against the radar.


MTR ( Missile Tracking Radar ). The MTR was also a pulse radar with the same pencilbeam as the TTR. The radar operated at a variable frequency in the band of 8500-9600 MHz (wavelength approx. 3 cm) with a maximum range of 200,000 yards (about 180 km) and a PRF equal to that of HIPAR or LOPAR, which of these two search radars were selected. The maximum power was 158 kW. The MTR was operated by one operator . The MTR automatically followed the selected missile by means of so-called beacon tracking : after receiving a radar pulse from the MTR, the missile sent a signal back to the MTR. The MTR automatically centered on this signal.

To prevent a missile from responding to a radar pulse from the MTR of a neighboring squadron, both the MTR pulse and the missile signal were encoded with a unique battery code . Because the MTR focused on a signal from the missile itself, less transmitter power was needed: after all, the MTR had to emit enough energy to reach the missile , the energy for the signal from the missile back to the MTR was taken by the missile itself. produced. The MTR could also work in skin track mode , but this was only used for certain tests.

In the system of the MTR, a maximum of 16 positions (in azimuth, elevation and range ) of launchers were stored, plus one for the position of the flight simulator on the LCT. As soon as on the LA the LCO selected a launcher to fire off, the MTR automatically focused on the position of this launcher , locked on this missile and continued to follow the missile during the flight until the moment of detonation ( burst ).

The MTR sent out a pulse train of four pulses determined by the computer to the missile . The distances between certain pulses indicated the battery code and coded a control command for the missile. This control command was converted into results of the control surfaces of the missile . The distance between other pulses was a hold-off signal and prevented a fail-safe from the missile. Should the MTR lose the track on the missile for more than three seconds , then automatically a self-destructive ( fail safe burst ) of the missileand the MTR focused on the next selected missile .

Such a loss of missile track could be caused if the angular velocity of the missile from the MTR was more than 700 mils (39º) per second because this was the maximum rotation speed of the MTR antenna in azimuth and elevation . Therefore the distance between MTR (and therefore IFC) and LA had to be at least 1000 yards (900 m). A final pulse combination meant the burst command for the missile .


TRR ( Target Ranging Radar ). The TRR was a later addition to the NIKE Hercules system. The TRR was linked to the TTR and followed exactly in azimuth and elevation . The TRR itself did not provide azimuth and elevation information, but only information about the distance to the target . This was necessary for certain forms of electronic interference where the distance to the targetcould no longer be determined by the TTR. The TRR had two transmitter / receiver channels (A and B), which could alternately be switched on manually, or automatically changed channels up to 400 times per second. By always selecting a frequency that was not disturbed or less disturbed, the range to the target could still be determined. The TRR worked in a frequency band of 15.7-17.5 GHz (1.8 cm) and could transmit both long and short pulses in both channels . The maximum power of the TRR was 125 kW. The TRR was operated by one operator . Because TTR and TRR were linked together with azimuth and elevationif the distance between these two radars does not exceed 82 yards, otherwise the parallax between the two radars could no longer be discounted.

TTR, MTR and TRR were externally identical. Around the antenna a spherical protection was applied that had been applied to overpressure. This offered the antenna protection against wind, weather, dust, etc.

TTR without protective cover
(photo NIMH)

TTR and TRR (photo NIMH)

IFF (Identification Friend or Foe ). The IFF was an antenna that emitted a coded signal. Aircraft carrying the same code sent back a signal that was visible on the PPI for the BCO. The IFF interrogation signal ( challenge ) is transmitted at 1030 MHz and the automatic response ( response ) from the aircraft at 1090 MHz. The IFF antenna synchronized with the LOPAR or HIPAR (depending on which radar the operator had selected), so it was clear to which LOPAR / HIPAR target echo the IFF response was. If an IFF signal was received from the aircraft, it had to be assumed that this was a friendly plane that should not be intercepted.

Different types of IFF were in use: the modes 1, 2, 3 and later also 4. The IFF code was entered in the BCT and had to be changed every half hour (for mode 1 and 3) within a margin of 2 minutes. Mode 4 was a so-called cryptomode that remained valid for 24 hours.


Other fire control equipment.

BCT. From the Battery Control Trailer , the operation of the surveillance radar and fire control within the squadron took place. The occupation consisted of:

  • Battery Control Officer (BCO) (2nd / 1st Lieutenant) , who had overall control of the crew and was specifically responsible for the identification and interception of targets.
  • Acquisition operator (Sergeant (1)), who served the LOPAR, HIPAR and IFF.
  • Computer operator (Corporal (1)), who operated the computer.
  • Switchboard operator (conscripted soldier), who was responsible for the internal communication systems.
  • Early Warning Plotting Board Operator , who had to plot the received warning for targets and pass it on to the BCO. This function was no longer fulfilled by using Automatic Data Link (ADL).
In the BCT there was a console on the left, in which the (analogue to approx. 1984) computer was built in, including the Multi Channel Data Recorder (MCDR) on which data of the interception were recorded for later analysis. The analogue computer worked on the basis of voltages (eg 1 V equal to a distance of 1000 yards) and with the use of servo-driven potentiometers. After about 1984 the computer was digitized and consisted of a monitor, keyboard, printer and 2 floppy disk drives (but then for 8 inch floppies). One floppy was for data recording , the other for either the tactical / operational program or the diagnostic program.

BCT (photo Ramiro Ballola)


On the right side there were positions for the acquisition operator, the BCO, the computer operator and the switchboard operator from back to front . Against the side wall in front of the BCO's nose the horizontal plotting board was on the left and the vertical plotting board to the right . On the horizontal plotting board , with computer controlled plot pens, the position of the tracked target in azimuth and range was displayed. This resulted in a plot of the position and course of the target. Before launch, the other plotpen represented the position of the computerized interception point (the Predicted Kill Point / PKP (also known as Predicted Intercept Point / PIP or Predicted Burst Point / PBP )), after launch it gave the position and course of the missile again. On the vertical plotting board the height of the target was shown and the calculated time to interception, after launch the second plot pen returned the vertical course of the missile against the time to interception.

From the BCT there was a direct voice connection with the GOC ( hotloop ), which was used for alarms and oral fire control commands . Also in the BCT was the Automatic Data Link (ADL) system. This allowed, in principle, without speech support, to assign the higher echelon targets to the squadron, give fire assignments and follow the course of the interception. From the BCT two internal speech connections were available with the LA and the RCT. These were the ' Command Loop ' (mainly for contact between BCO and RCT) and the ' Tech Loop ' (for contact between computer operator and LA). The BCO could switch between the two.

In the BCT there was always a 'system watch ', even if the duty crew was consigned at home. The first task of the system watch was to receive alerts via the ' hotloop ' from the GOC and to alert the crew on duty . If the crew ' on site ' had done this by triggering the siren for the IFC and switching to " blue state " which also brought down a siren at the LA. If the crew was consigned at home, the system watch initiated the crew alarm . The call attendant on the LA then alerted the crewvia the telephone or the pager. The second task of the system watch was to keep an eye on the system with regard to temperature, short-circuit, etc. The system watch was usually performed by conscripted staff from both IFC and LA.

BCO panel: bottom left the 'fire switch' (photo Ramiro Ballola)


Above left to right: horizontal plotting board and vertical plotting board with Battery Status Indicator Panel underneath.

Below fltr: acquisition operator panel with PI, PPI, control console BCO and computer operator. (photo Ramiro Ballola)

BCT (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)


RCT. Radar Control Trailer TTR, MTR and TRR were operated from the Radar Control Trailer . The occupation consisted of:

  • Tracking Supervisor (Sergeant Major), who was in charge of the RCT and served the TRR.
  • TTR-Azimuth operator (Sergeant (1)), who was responsible for the operation of the TTR and in particular for positioning the TTR in azimuth.
  • TTR-Elevation operator (Corporal (1) or conscripted soldier), this served the elevation of the TTR.
  • TTR-Range operator (Corporal (1) or conscripted soldier), this one served it range channel of the TTR.

    Below the TTR console, fltr elevation and azimuth A-scope, B-scope and range A-scope. Above that the TRR console. (photo Ed Thelen)

  • MTR operator (Sergeant (1)), who operated the MTR.

    MTR console (photo Ed Thelen)
In the back of the RCT there were TTR elevation , azimuth and range operators from left to right . Before that, the Tracking Supervisor was also a TRR operator . On the left side was the MTR console with the MTR operator.


RCT (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

Interconnecting Building. The Interconnecting Building was a stone building that contained the office of the radar engineers ('226-en'). On the four sides of the building, the BCT, RCT, M & S Van and the Local Air Defense Command Post (LADCP or 'Audit Chamber') were placed in a cross form. The LADCP was a trailer in which messages were decoded during exercises, calculations for the Surface-to-Surface mission were made and the Airspace Control overlay for the horizontal plotting board was signed.

Interconnection building. (photo archive FE Rappange)

RTSG ( Radar Test Set Group ). The RTSG was used to check the operation of TTR, TRR and MTR and for the collimation of these antennas (that is, the alignment of the mechanical and optical axis with the electric axis of the antenna, necessary for the alignment of MTR, TTR and TRR). The RTSG consisted of a mast with receivers for radar signals and a Radar Test Set Cabinet for the control of the RTSG.


T-1. The T-1 was a training tool for the fire control crews. The T-1 consisted of a trailer containing equipment with which planes, clutter (radar echoes of static objects such as mountains and showers), electronic interference ( jamming ) and mechanical failure ( chaff) could be projected onto the display tubes without the radars 'on'. stood up. Up to six targets could be presented simultaneously with associated electronic or mechanical failure. In addition, the T-1 generated a virtual missile with which interceptions could be committed. With the T-1, the fire control crew for training was independent of actually flyingtargets . The targets generated by the T-1 could achieve performance (speed, altitude, maneuverability) that real aircraft could not or could rarely equal. The crew of the T-1 came from the Group Staff and with the T-1 successively used the squadrons of 12GW for training weeks.

IFC 118Sq: the big ball is the HIPAR with next to it the GOC. On the radar dike behind it from left to right TTR and TRR, LOPAR with IFF and MTR. Central to the Interconnection Building with BCT, RCT, M & S and LADCP. Right center the RTSG. (photo NIMH)


Launching equipment

Missile / booster combination. The NIKE Hercules missile consisted of a booster and the actual missile . The total length of this combination was 41.6 ft (12.65 m) with a weight of 10,700 pounds (4853 kg). Booster and missile were mounted together on a firing rails ( launching handling rails ). The combination of missile, booster and launching handling rail together formed the missile round . The missile was slid into the booster with a bit of a wooden ring ( impact cushion)) Which should prevent the start missile solid hit in the booster and should ensure that after the burning of the booster , the missile could come off easily from the booster . About 25,000 NIKE Hercules missiles have been produced.

Booster. The booster consisted of four engines of solid fuel, which were mounted two-by-two. The booster was equipped with four stabilizing fins and four fold-out clips ( elevon locks ) that mechanically prevented movements of the control surfaces of the missile . The electric ignition cable ( booster ignition cable ) was not connected to the firing system of the launcher but was equipped with a shorting plug , so it was basically impossible that the booster was inadvertently ignited.

Before the booster ignitor cable could be connected, a ' stray voltage & continuity check' had to be done first. This to ensure that no stray voltages were present in the ignition circuit and the ignition circuit was not interrupted. The booster had a burn time of 3.4 seconds and produced 173,600 pounds (772,211 N) of thrust. The booster had a length of 14.5 ft (4.42 m) and a weight of 5,304 lbs (approx. 2,400 kg). The ratio between thrust and launch weight ( thrust / weight ratio ) resulted in a great acceleration when launching the booster / missilecombination of approx. 150 m / s² or more than 15G (15x gravitational acceleration). By burning fuel, the booster / missile combination became lighter so the acceleration increased even further to more than 20G. At booster burn-out after 3.4 seconds the missile was at a height of over one kilometer and had already reached a speed of more than 2000 km / h or almost Mach 2.

Booster - (TM 9-1410-250-12 / 2)


Through holes at the front of the booster in the booster thrust structure , the air resistance of the booster itself was greater than that of the missile . When the boost pressure of the booster was lost , the booster then pulled away from the missile due to the air resistance . The booster removed a pin with a cable (the propulsion arming lanyard ) from the missile , activating two thermal batteries ( squib batteries ). These ignited (about 0.75 seconds after booster separation ) the rocket engine. A nuclear missile had two extra squib batteries for the power supply for the nuclear detonation circuit. The burned-out booster fell back to earth and landed almost two minutes after launch in the booster impact area : a vacant or vacated area right next to the LA.

Missile. The missile had a length of 27 ft (8.23 m) with a hull diameter of 31.5 inches (0.8 m), a weight of 5342 lbs (2422 kg). The missile consisted of the following parts from the front to the rear:

Missile (OL152 / 3)

Missile - (TM 9-1410-250-12 / 2)


Nose Cone ( nose cone ): the aerodynamic "point" of the missile . Missiles equipped with a nuclear warhead ( warhead ) had instead of a nose cone a ' self-aligning static tube ' (also called ' barometric probe '): a pressure gauge, stabilized in the direction of flight by four small fins, which was needed for the barometric ignition of the nuclear warhead in a ' urface-to-surface air burst ', or to prevent a nuclear detonation from occurring below the minimum height in the S urface-to-Air mode . Theself-aligning static tube (usually encased in a red protective cap) was the only external distinction between a conventional and nuclear missile .

Self-aligning static probe on a 'special weapon'
(photo website Ed Thelen)

Self-aligning static probe in protective cover
(photo website FAS)

Guidance section: here, the control signals received from the MTR were decoded and converted into control signals for the control planes ( elevons ) at the back of the missile . The guidance section had four small fins on the outside. This contained the two transmitting and two receiving antennas for the exchange of signals with the MTR crosswise so that at each position of the missile one transmit and one receive antenna had visual contact with the MTR. At the front there was a ram pressure probe for each vane to measure the dynamic air pressure. This determined how much rash from the elevonswas required to comply with the requested steering command at varying barometric height and speed. A pipe between guidance section and launching handling rail ensured the cooling of the guidance section until launch.

Guidance section (TM 9-1410-250-12 / 2)


Warhead section: Here is the warhead , nuclear or conventional, was accommodated, as well as two Safety & Arming Devices (SAD). The conventional warhead (T45) consisted of 525 lbs (238 kg) explosively encased in 20,000 pre-fragmented, approximately 1 cm³ large metal blocks. Upon detonation, the blocks were ejected in a spherical pattern (with a conical dead zone to the rear of the missile ). Air pressure and shard function combined to eliminate the target within a radius of several tens of meters. The two identical SADs mechanically interrupted the electrical ignition circuit of the warhead.Only an acceleration in the flight direction of at least 11G for at least 2 seconds, so during the launch, could put the SADs 'on sharp'. A missile with a high explosive charge was designated as 'BHE' (NIKE type B (= Hercules), High Explosive ).

Warhead section - (TM 9-1410-250-12 / 2)

In 1966, part of the NIKE Hercules missiles at the KLu was equipped with a nuclear warhead . It was the W31 nuclear warhead that was used in various versions and strengths ( yield ). The versions were the 'BXS' ( NIKE type B, Special, Small ) and 'BXL' ( Special, Large ), of which the yields according to public sources ultimately amounted to 2 and 20 kilotons (kt) of TNT respectively.4 The BXL version was already phased out for 1981. The nuclear warhead was equipped with a Permissive Action Link (PAL). Only when it was removed could the warhead of onearming plug are provided. The code to be able to remove the PAL was announced in wartime after authorization by the National Command Authority (the US President) through the American national channels. A fail safe circuit prevented a nuclear detonation just before the burst command .

4 For an animation of the effects of an air or groundburst see http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/ . A detonation with a strength of 2 kt produces a fireball with a radius of 80 m, an area with a radius of 900 m with an overpressure of 0.34 atmospheres (5 psi, sufficient to deposit buildings) and a ground burst a crater with a radius of 50 m and 10 m deep.


Motor section: Here is the rocket engine of solid fuel. Via a nozzle the combustion gases were fed to the exhaust pipe at the rear of the missile under great pressure and speed . At the rocket engine a missile motor safe and arm switch was installed which prevented unintended ignition. This safety was switched off only by an acceleration in the flight direction for a number of seconds. The rocket engine had a burn time of 29 seconds with a thrust of 13,500 pounds (60,050 N). In this time propelled rocket engine , the missileto a maximum speed of Mach 3.65 (approx. 4200 km / h) and up to a maximum height of 100.000ft (30.5 km).

Motor section (TM 9-1410-250-12 / 2)

Equipment section: the hydraulic and electrical system equipment was installed in the space around the nozzle. This included the connection of the umbilical connector : via the umbilical cable , the missile was supplied to the missile umbilical connector prior to the launch of voltage and data from the launcher .


Equipment section (TM 9-1410-250-12 / 2)

Actuator section: these were the elevons on the back of the stabilization fins of the missile and the hydraulic actuators for this. The elevons caused movements of the missile in the longitudinal axis ( roll ), up / down ( pitch ) or left / right ( yaw ). The missile could make bend accelerations up to 10G.

Actuator section (TM 9-1410-250-12 / 2)


Stabilizing fins ( missile wings ): the missile was equipped with four missile wings over almost the entire length to maintain the correct position during the flight.

Missile, booster and launching handling rail (MMS-900)

Launching handling rail. Booster and missile were mounted together on a launching handling rail by the 'assembly ' . These three elements together formed one whole ( missile round ) to launch. The launcher handling rail was rolled from the Missile Storage Building to the launcher with manpower .

Launcher, launching handling rail and 'rail tracks' - (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)


Launcher. The launcher placed the missile in the firing position and provided the missile before launching electrical power. The launcher also provided the electrical connection between booster ignition cable and the firing circuit. During exercises, the booster was not actually connected but a Firing Simulator was used. This simulated a nuclear or conventional missile in the S urface-to-Air or Surface-to-Surface mode .

(photo archive author)

One missile could be loaded per launcher . The three launchers per launch section were connected by a kind of rail tracks. The rails ran on one side until past the last launcher to be able to park emptying launching handling rails . On the other side, the rails ran to the Missile Storage Building where the other missiles were ready. After the blank firing of all three of the launchers the blank were launching handling rails are rolled over and the launchers g eladen with missiles from the Missile Building Storage, the so-called reload .


Launcher in 'up' position (MMS-151)

The launcher could be mechanically adjusted to a vertical firing angle of 85, 87.5 or 90º. At 12GGW, the launchers were set at 87.5 degrees by default. This prevented the burnt-out booster from falling back onto the LA, but still in the booster impact area that was close to the LA.

Launcher Section with 3 launchers and Missile Storage Building (photo NIMH)

Launcher Section. A Launcher Section included three launchers , a Missile Storage Building , a Section Panel and a number of missiles . The Launcher Sections were surrounded by an earthen wall. In this wall was the concrete shelter of the launch crew and the Section Panel . Each Launcher Section had a maximum of 11 missiles ; three on the launchers and eight in the Missile Storage Building . The nuclear missiles only came for a weekly check with the MTR outside the Missile Storage Building .


There were three Launcher Sections per squadron : Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. The NIKEs (' special weapons' ) were housed on the Alpha and Bravo sections of the launch zone within an inner ring of the launch area that was permanently guarded by the Air Force Monitoring (LB). Access to the special weapons was strictly regulated: there was a special access regulation to the inner ring, a permanent ' two man rule ' (nobody was allowed to come by a line on the ground near the special weapons ) and there had to be all are directly supervised by a US military. In the event of violation of these rules, the American personnel immediately shot. Alpha and BravoSection each had five nuclear (BXS) missiles and six conventional (BHE), Charlie Section over 11 conventional missiles .

The three launchers could be operated remotely via the Section Panel . During the preparation of the Launcher Section for operations and during checks , the launch crew (except the Section Panel Operator ) was on the launch pad. During operations, all staff were in the concrete shelter, separated from the launch platform by double heavy metal doors. Staying on the launch pad while firing a missile was badly advised.

A launcher was selected on the Section Panel , allowing the launch command from the BCT to run via the LCT and Section Panel to the selected launcher and missile . If necessary, the Section Panel Operator could manually fire the selected missile from the Section Panel . During his service, the Section Chief permanently had a chain around the neck with the four keys to close the firing circuit of the launchers ( crew safety keys ). Only with the actual intention to fire missiles(or simulating it) the Section Chief activated the firing circuit by placing the keys in the Section Panel . Continental-USA NIKE systems had four launchers per Section and four Sections , hence the four crew safety keys and the four selection options for launcher and Section on the control panels of Section respectively LCT.

To test launchers and missiles , each launcher had a Launcher Control Indicator (LCI). This was located in the Missile Storage Building .

Launcher Control Indicator (OL152 / 3)


The Launcher Section was manned by:

  • Section Chief (Sergeant (1)), who led the launch personnel of the section.
  • Section Panel Operator (Corporal), who operated the Section Panel .
  • Four Launcher Crew Members (conscripted soldier), who served the launchers .
  • In nuclear sections, the launch crew was supplemented with American personnel.

Section Panel. At the bottom of the console the switches to fire a missile during 'emergency procedures-LCT out of action'; normally behind a flap.
(Photo Ed Thelen)

Section Panel - (MMS-151)


LCT. From the Launcher Control Trailer the deployment of the three launch sections was commanded and maintained contact with the IFC. The crew of the LCT consisted of:

  • Launcher Control Officer / LCO (sergeant major or sergeant1). He coordinated the work on the launch sections.
  • Launcher Control Console Operator / LCCO (corporal (1)), who operated it
  • Launcher Control Console / LCC in the LCT.
  • Switchboard Operator (conscripted soldier), optional
  • On nuclear squadrons there was an American monitor in the LCT.

Launcher Control Console - (Photo Ramiro Ballola)


LCT (TM 9-1400-259-10 / 2)

In the LCC, the LCO selected the Launcher Section for the next interception. The LCO ensured that a Launcher Section was always available, even if a reload was being carried out on the other sections . The LCO passed on the current situation on the LA (which missile on which launcher , which launcher firing, etc.) to the computer operator in the BCT. The LCCO communicated with the BCO and MTR operator at the IFC. The LCT was equipped with a test responder ( also called flight simulator ). This was used for certain tests with the MTR.

A data and voice cable ran between LCT and each of the launch sections. A data and voice cable also ran between BCT and LCT, the interarea connection cable . This cable was up to 6000 yards (5400 m) long and determined the maximum distance between IFC and LA. For example, the firing signal could flow from the BCT via the interarea connection cable to the LCT, from there to the launch section selected on the LCC and from there via the Section Panel to the selected launcher . If one of these cables was defective, there were Emergency Procedures to be able to fire a missile .


Launching Area 118 Sq. At the back of the A and B section, surrounded by the inner ring with watchtowers. To the left the Entry Control Post and the LCT. Completely left the Assembly and Warhead Building. Left in front of the C-Section. The white building on the right is the squadron staff. The old German runway system, including filled bomb craters, is still clearly visible.
(photo archive author)

Built-in safeties. To prevent unintentional launches and detonations of the warhead , a number of safety devices were built into the system. A fire command from the BCT could only be sent to the LCT and Section if the system was in ' red status ' and the relevant Section was selected in the LCT . The fire signal, even in Emergency Procedures , could only reach the launcher if the relevant launcher had been selected and the four crew safety keys had been fitted. The launcher could only pass the signal to the booster as thelauncher was locked in the (almost) vertical position and the booster ignition cable was connected. The rocket engine only ignited when the propulsion arming lanyard had activated the thermal batteries and the missile motor safe & arm switch of the rocket motor had been sharpened by an acceleration in the flight direction. The warhead could only detonate if the two SADs were focused by an acceleration in the flight direction.

On the other hand, a loss of reception after launch by the missile of the MTR signal of three seconds or more resulted in a fail safe burst of the missile . This prevented a sharpened warhead from a missile that had lost its conduction from going uncontrolled in an unintended place. If the thermal batteries were not activated after booster separation , this also led to a fail safe burst . A fail safe burst was always a conventional detonation, even with nuclear missiles .


System checks.

In the high preparedness during the Cold War, it was essential that the weapon system was frequently checked for correct functioning. This involved a strict regime of daily, weekly, monthly, annual and multi-year system checks, the system checks . The correct operation of the system was also regularly checked during evaluations by external bodies, eg by the Component Operational Readiness and Evaluation (ORE) team or by the NATO Tactical Evaluation (TACEVAL) team.

In system checks , the correct functioning of the individual system components was first checked and corrected where necessary. If all individual checks had been completed, the operation of the weapon system as a whole had to be tested. The main integrated system checks were:

Acquire & Command check. In this test, it was checked whether the MTR automatically lockte on the selected launcher and test or control commands from the MTR resulted in corresponding control results from the elevons of the missile . It was also checked whether a test burst command was received by the missile . This test was performed every week. The MTR operator was sitting behind his console in the RCT, but at the LA the launch crew sometimes stood outside. Because the nuclear missiles also had to be tested, the participation of American personnel was necessary.

Automatic AG test. In this test, it was checked whether the forwarding angle for the missile ( azimuth or gyro; AG) calculated by the computer was correctly transmitted to the missile .

Automatic fire & launch test : In this test, the correct functioning of the entire fire circuit between BCT and missile was checked.

Dynamic course test. In this test the computer simulated the interception of a programmed target (there were several options). The test results had to fall within the prescribed tolerances.

Vertical plot Dynamic Course No. 2 (OL152 / 3)


Simultaneous Tracking test. Because of the ' command guidance ' principle, an accurate alignment of TTR, TRR and MTR was crucial for a successful interception. The whole alignment procedure was known as LOCOSs because it consisted of the parts Leveling (leveling) , Optical Alignment (optical alignment of the radar) , Collimation (aligning electric, mechanical and optical axes) , Orientation (direction to the north) and Synchronization (the Simultanious Tracking test). To perform this last test lockoutthe TTR and the TRR on a plane that displayed a quiet flight path, eg a passenger plane, at a distance of 50-100 km.

Then the MTR was switched to skin track and locked on the same plane . This simulated the moment of interception of the target by the missile , if the distance between missile and target was minimal. The computer received the target positions from TTR, TRR and MTR and calculated the absolute distance differences between these target positions. This was done for each of the pulse modes of TTR ( long and short pulse ) and TRR ( A / short and long pulse, B / short and long pulse).). The system tolerance was 0.5 mil (0.03º), which amounts to half a meter per 1000 meters. At a target distance of, for example, 80 km, the system tolerance was a position difference between MTR on the one hand and TTR or TRR on the other than a maximum of 40 m. With a deviation of 1 mil or more the system was considered to be no longer operational ( non-ops ) and had to the entire LOCOS procedure between TTR, TRR and MTR will be performed again.

ADL check. The Automatic Data Link system made it possible that target allocation, fire commands, etc. could in principle be transmitted electronically between higher echelons and BCT without spoken commands. The ADL check could be held with both the GOC and higher echelons. The aim was to check whether the electronic orders arrived correctly in the BCT, the target position as indicated by the higher echelon corresponded with the actual goal and the reports back from the squadron arrived correctly.



The BCO was able to commission a computer to perform one of three missions: Surface-to-Air Low Altitude (not in use), Surface-to-Air or Surface-to-Surface . With a second switch he selected the type warhead : I-HE (NIKE Ajax conventional, no longer in use since 1964), BHE (NIKE Hercules conventional), BXS ( nuclear small ) or BXL ( nuclear large ). The standard choice was Surface-to-Air, BHE. The performance of the system associated with this choice is shown below.

SA and SA-LA system performance (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

Surface-to-Air (SA) mission (conventional). To fight an aircraft and to fire a missile , the NIKE system had to be brought into operational status first by performing the crew drill . This status was called Battle Stations. At Battle Stations all fire control and launch positions were manned, the radars were checked for proper functioning and placed in the transmit / receive mode, the missiles and the launchers were checked, the booster ignitor cable connected to the launcher and at least two launchers placed in the near vertical firing position (the second launcher was the immediate backup in case there would be a problem with the primary launcher / missile ). The crew safety keys of the Section Chief were placed in the Section Panel . Exercises was called Blazing Skies and the conditions were the same as with Battle Stations , except that the booster ignition cable was not connected to the launcher but on a Firing Simulator . The BCO had commanded the mission (here 'Surface-to-Air , BHE '). The MTR was locked to the missile selected by the LCO , which was visible to the BCO in the BCT by three green lights (' designated', 'ready', 'tracked' ) on the Battery Control Indicator Panel in front of it .


SA mission (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

A potential target was detected by the HIPAR or LOPAR, depending on which radar was selected. The target echo was projected onto the PPI so that the BCO had a first indication about azimuth and range of the target , and from the displacement of the target echo had an indication of course and speed. From this information, the BCO made a first assessment of whether this target was within the applicable interception criteria . With multiple targets he had to prioritize on the basis of the general and specific tactical instructions of the higher echelon. If the BCO decided to take this target into consideration for interception, he gave theacquisition operator assignment to interrogate the target with the IFF (' challenge' ).


Plan Position Indicator PPI (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

If a positive response from the target was not present, the BCO gave the target the status of ' foe' (enemy) and ordered the target to be placed under the cross hairs of the PI, so that a possible multiple target echo ( multiple target ) could be improved. recognized. The BCO then instructed the acquisition operator to assign the target to the TTR operator (' designate' ) by means of an electronic assignment. The TTR operator could, on his B-scope, have a cut-out of the PPI around the designated targetseeing and accepting the order that the TTR automatically turned to the right azimuth and searched for the global range (' acquire' ). The TTR elevation operator was then instructed to search in elevation until a radar echo became visible to him (' search' ).


As soon as this was the case, the target echo was visible on the A-scopes of both the TTR- elevation , azimuth and range operators. The Tracking Supervisor checked if the located by the TTR target corresponding to the target information on the B-scope and commanding the TTR-crew to the target intake auto-lock . The TTR now automatically followed the target in azimuth , elevation and range . The BCO was able to follow this process by lighting up the green lights for ' foe', 'designated', 'confirmed' and ' tracked' respectively . If necessary (in case of serious electronic interference on the range channel of the TTR) the target could also be followed by the TRR.

The position data of the TTR (possibly supplemented with the range from the TRR) were automatically transferred to the computer. The computer first calculated the height of the target above the earth's surface. Secondly, from this point on, the computer permanently calculated the point of interception when the missile was to be launched at that moment, the Predicted Kill Point / PKP. This calculation was based on generic, average performance (eg speed when burning the rocket engine ) of the missile . The computer now permanently displays the target position and PKP on the horizontal plotting board and on the vertical plotting board(height of the PKP compared to the flight time). Thirdly the computer permanently calculated the azimuth of the selected launcher to the PKP ( azimuth or gyro; AG) and passed this constantly to the azimuth gyro of the selected missile . Finally, the computer presented the calculated data (target height and -speed, flight time of the missile ( time-to-intercept ) and the azimuth of the PKP) for the BCO. If all of these data were stable, the PKP was within the intercept range ( engagement envelope ) and the time-to-intercept was up to 200 seconds, the computer showed a green light after four seconds that the system was ready to fire (' ready to fire ' ).

The BCO evaluated once more whether the tracked target could be intercepted according to the current tactical indications, no target with a higher priority was available and there were no further objections to the upcoming interception . The BCO then counted for the interception: ' about to engage, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, fire '. In ' fire' he crossed the fire switch under the red protection cover. Then the green light ' fire' came on.

Fire: gyro azimuth stabilization
(photo author)

+ 2.25sec: booster ignition
(photo author)

Booster burn time 3.4sec
(photo author)

+ 3.4sec: booster burn out, booster separation and roll
(photo author)

The firing signal from the BCO first went to the computer to start the firing program there. At the same time, the firing signal went via the interarea connecting cable to the LCT, via the LCC to the selected section and via the Section Panel to the selected launcher and the missile located thereon via the umbilical cable. In the missile, the firing signal led to the 'freezing' of the last AG information coming from the computer in the gyroscope of the missile . The missilebuilt hydraulic pressure and the internal power supply was activated. This process took about two seconds. Two and a half seconds after receiving the firing signal, the booster was ignited via the booster ignition cable . Under the thrust of the booster the missile moved with great force over the launching handling rail. The umbilical cable and the cooling tube were pulled out of the missile . Due to the acceleration, the SADs were closed, closing the warhead detonation circuit and the rocket engine ignition circuit. Thehorizontal plotting board in the BCT now showed the orbit of the target and of the missile , on the vertical plotting board the vertical flight path of the missile and that of the target were presented.


Horizontal plot of an interception
(TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

Vertical plot of an interception
(TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

Because the MTR was locked on the missile and the missile moved up, the MTR made a movement in the vertical plane. This was the indication ' missile away ' for the computer after 1.2 seconds, which became visible in the BCT with a green light (' launch' ). Because the elevons of the missile were still stuck in the elevon locks of the booster , the missile could not make steering strokes until booster separation . With the burning of the booster after 3.4 seconds after ignition, the higher aerodynamic resistance of thebooster to separate the booster from the missile (booster separation) . Due to the loss of the booster , a pin was pulled out of the missile (the propulsion a ringing lanyard ), causing the rocket engine to ignite after 0.7 seconds . In addition, the elevons were released by the booster separation and the misile was controlled. The first control command was generated by the missile itself and involved a turn in the longitudinal direction ( roll ) so that the 'belly' of the missile (the side that is on thelaunching handling rail had reassured itself) turned to the azimuth of the PKP (as recorded just before launch in the gyroscope of the missile ). Approximately two seconds had been allocated for this movement.

Missile engine ignition
(photo author)

7G initial dive to PKP
(photo author)

On trajectory to PKP and acceleration to Mach 3.65
(photo author)

Booster falls back
(photo author)


Five seconds after launch, the missile received the first control command from the computer via the MTR. This involved an initial dive command that caused the missile to dive from the near vertical position at launch to a more horizontal flight path in the direction of the PKP. This control command generated a fixed angular acceleration of 7G, the duration was determined by the distance and height of the PKP. The steering command meant that the missile focused on a position slightly above the PKP, to compensate for the normal fall acceleration of 1G gravity during the flight (the so-called ' super elevation '). Furthermore, it received missileup to 10 seconds before the interception, a continuous control command of + 0.5G to make the flight range as large as possible (the so-called glide bias ). Finally, the computer directed the missile to a point above the PKP to compensate for the loss of the glide bias during the last 10 seconds of the interception: the ballistic falling factor . Once the missile reached the flight path to the PKP was missile " on trajectory ", it was about 12 seconds after launch. After 29 seconds of burning, the rocket engine was burnt out, the missile at maximum speed and it was missileonly in glide flight to the PKP. At this moment the computer made a recalculation of the interception, now based on the current height and speed of the missile. On the plotting boards this was visible through a repositioning of the missile tracks.

Meanwhile, on the LA, the deflated launcher was brought back into the horizontal position, a new launcher placed in a vertical position and prepared for a next mission. If all three launchers had been emptied in a section, the launch crew could take all three empty launching handling rails aside and place three new missiles on the launchers and prepare them for firing. The LCO selected the next Section and launcher from which it could be shot. The crew in the RCT was busy with tracking the target and the missile. The BCO monitored the interception but in the meantime was looking for a possible next target to intercept and was already able to challenge that with IFF .

Meanwhile, the computer continuously calculated the position of the PKP based on the position, speed and course of the target and the flight data of the missile . The aim of the computer was to bring missile and target as close together as possible. Any change in the calculated position of the PKP, for example because the target maneuvered, led to a new control command to the missile . In the first flight phase, the steering commands were dosed in such a way that they would lead to minimal loss of energy from the missile due to violent steering movements. The computer tried the missileto steer in such a way that it reached the last flight phase with maximum speed and energy, so that the missile could still react maximally to evasive maneuvers of the target . From 24 seconds before the calculated interception time, the control commands led to more aggressive steering movements. From 10 seconds before the calculated interception, the computer responded with maximum control commands to changes in the PKP to make the miss distance as small as possible.

Also at 10 seconds flight time before the calculated interception, the 0.5G glide bias flight profile was abandoned: the missile now followed a 1G parabolic trajectory to the PKP under the influence of gravity. The BCO did the countdown : ' ten seconds to burst, 5, 4, 3,


2, 1, burst ' . At 0.5 seconds before the calculated PKP was reached, the missile of the computer received a burst enabling command, after which the missile no longer received control commands. The missile received the burst command at 0.12 seconds before the interception . At 10 milliseconds before reaching the PKP, the warhead detonated , with the intention that the warhead detonated about 10 meters from the target for optimal effect. The actual distance was determined by this calculated distance plus the margin of error caused by the alignment of TTR / TRR and MTR. By means of air pressure and sharding the target had to beare now disabled. The switching off of the target could be detected on the TTR and TRR by the loss of the target echo. The Tracking Supervisor reported this to the BCO with the statement ' effective ' (or ' ineffective ' if the target echo on the TTR / TRR persisted). The MTR had lost track on the missile . The MTR automatically locked on the new launcher selected by the LCO .

The data recorder of the computer had recorded the entire interception and could give a definite answer about, among other things, the miss distance at burst . The NIKE system was ready for another interception.

Surface-to-Air (SA) mission (nuclear). The nuclear SA mission went largely as the conventional mission described above. First of all, however, a uniform nuclear release was required in both the NATO command line and in the American national line. This release indicated how many nuclear weapons were released and in what timeframe. The tactical order within the NATO-line gave further restrictions for the deployment of nuclear warheads , for example in terms of time frame (which could therefore deviate from the time limits in the release message ), geographical restrictions, height limits for target and detonation, minimum target speed, course of the goal etc.

After a validated nuclear release , the US personnel had to remove the PAL plug from the warhead , after which the SA arming plug could be installed. Furthermore, the red protective cap of the self-aligning static probe had to be removed. The rest of the preparation of missile and launcher did not deviate from that of a conventional mission, but obviously took place under the strict supervision of the American personnel. In peacetime, these procedures were performed on a nuclear training missile , not on the 'real' nuclear missiles .

If one or more nuclear missiles were ready for deployment and the BCO had selected a target that fulfilled the conditions for a nuclear interception , he ordered the mission: ' Surface-to-Air, BXS' . If a nuclear detonation had to take place above a certain height according to the instructions of the NATO commander, use was made of the Minimum Burst Altitude (MBA). This adjustable height by the computer operator between 0 and 30,000 ft prevented a detonation at too low a height where, for example, fall-out could be caused. The standard minimum height prescribed by NATO was the Minimum Normal Burst Altitude(MNBA). If the NATO commander still wanted to take the risk and accepted detonations at any altitude, the BCO placed the MBA switch in the override position.

For the nuclear detonation the BCO also had the choice between a normal or an offset detonation. In the latter, the detonation occurred slightly for the optimal interception point, as a result of which air pressure and fireball could disable a large, somewhat dispersed flying formation of aircraft at once. MBA override and offset burst , incidentally, were no longer in operation since the end of 1981.


Surface-to-Air Low Altitude (SA-LA) mission . Although the NIKE system was intended for the interception of planes at middle and high altitude, the BCO could also select the Low Altitude Engagement option. The interception was identical to the normal SA mission, except that after booster separation the ignition of the rocket motor (by the computer) was delayed by eight seconds. This enabled the missile to take a sharper (up to 10G) dive at a lower speed after booster separation . Initially, the missile was moved to a displaced aiming pointled above the actual PKP. Just before reaching this displaced aiming point the missile received a dive command and went from above to the PKP. If the PKP was located within a zone with a radius of 10,000 yards (9 km) and a height of 21,000 ft (6400 m) at launch, the target could not be intercepted. This was the dead zone of the NIKE system. In the operational practice Low Altitude Engagements did not occur, targets at that level were intended for the HAWK system.

Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile (SA-AM) mission. Between 1967 and 1978 one Dutch NIKE unit (118 Sq in Vörden) was equipped to intercept enemy Tactical Ballistic Missiles (TBMs). The NIKE system was able to intercept TBMs with a maximum speed of 2380 knots (4400 km / h). This threat consisted of the Soviet FROG-7 and SS-1 SCUD TBMs with a maximum range of 70 and 300 km respectively. The system used deviated from the standard NIKE system. First of all, a HIPAR was needed to be able to detect the small and fast TBMs at a sufficient distance.

Furthermore, the BCT was equipped with two PPIs: one for short range and one for long range . The SA-AM mission could be performed both conventionally and with nuclear warheads . The NIKE system could only fight TBMs that would end up within a certain area (the footprint ). That footprint was fixed in relation to the IFC. Because the NIKE system had a static setup, the footprint could not be moved to defend important objects outside the current footprint .

SA-AM system performance (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)


Surface-to-surface (SS) mission. The Surface-to-Surface (SS) mission was a secondary task for the NIKE system. Although the NIKE system could hit a ground goal with great precision, the system had to be taken for half an hour from the primary task of air defense (30 minutes of preparation including maximum missile flight time). The SS mission was exclusively with nuclear warheadsperformed against ground targets at a maximum distance of 200,000 yards (183 km): the maximum range of the MTR and TTR. Even from the two most easterly NIKE squadrons of 12GGW (118 Sq in Vörden and 120 Sq in Borgholzhausen), this range could not hit a target on the territory of the GDR, except for some small western outcrops of East German territory.

SS mission (TM 9-1400-250-10 / 2)

SS mission (OL152 / 3)


An SS mission began with an encrypted order from a higher NATO commander, about one and a half hours before the desired time of detonation. The decoded message indicated whether it was a warning or an execution order and which unit was primary and which secondary ( back-up ) for the mission. The message also contained the target coordinate (in UTM 13 digits ie accurate to 10 meters), the first and last moment of permissible detonation ( time-on-target / TOT respectively not-later-than time)./ NLT) and the desired explosion height. This data had to be converted into parameters for the NIKE system. In the first instance this had to be calculated manually using a table book (sin, cos, tan and log), later a programmable calculator was available. Unfortunately this was found to be disturbed by the electromagnetic signal from the HIPAR, so that the calculation had to be carried out by hand. After the last modification of the NIKE system (about 1984) it was possible to enter the target data directly into the computer which then converted the data into the necessary system parameters without complicated calculations by the BCO. To carry out the SS mission the TTR and the TRR did not have to be transmitted (the target position was fixed),missile .

First the BCO had to calculate the azimuth and range to the target by comparing the target coordinate and the coordinate of its own TTR . That distance determined the flight duration of the missile; at maximum range it was 325 seconds. During the flight duration of the missile , however, the earth turned a bit from west to east. That is why the target was no longer on the launch position after the flight time. This had to be compensated by a calculation angle that was calculated in a slightly different rangeuntil the goal resulted. The flight time to the target also determined the first and last allowed firing time (TOT minus flight time or NLT minus flight time). Both units designated in the SS-assignment performed the calculations, but only the unit designated as the primary actually prepared the system for the mission.

There were three options for the detonation height:

  • Airburst / Ground Preclusion (an air explosion at a height where in principle no fall-out was caused, if the air explosion did not take place if the warhead did not detonate on impact).
  • Airburst / Ground Back-up (a desired air explosion, but a ground explosion in the event of an air explosion failure was allowed, so the risk of fall-out was accepted).
  • Ground Burst (an explicit assignment to a ground deviation, so with fall-out ).

For the first two options, the barometric ignition height had to be calculated from the specified target and detonation height and a meteorological correction factor (the ' D-value '). This number, the barometric pressure for detonation at the desired height, was passed on to the LCO. The calculated azimuth , range and elevation values ??were manually set on the TTR console and fixed. On the MTR, the guidance cut-off value was set to an elevation that was 5 mils above the radar horizon on that azimuth.


After receiving an execution order , the unit was designated as the primary in the SS mission meanwhile preparing a missile for the SS mission at the LA . This required a unified nuclear release both within the NATO channels and within the American national channels. In the warhead of the missile , the PAL plug was removed by US personnel , after which the SS- arming plug was installed. On the Section Panel , the barometric firing height was entered with a desired air burst .

If both IFC and LA were ready to execute the SS mission, it was waiting for the calculated firing time. After firing the missile , booster separation and the roll to the azimuth of the target, the missile made a dive from 7G to a flight path that brought the missile right above the target at a point 60,000 ft (18 km). Thus the MTR could still follow and guide the missile at maximum distance. Arriving just before the point above the target, the computer sent the missile a final dive command . This resulted in the missileperpendicularly, it plunged straight towards the goal. To achieve optimum precision, the missile also performed a 180-degree roll around the longitudinal axis. Just before the MTR reached the guidance cut-off elevation, the missile received the burst command via the MTR. The burst command sharpened the warhead but did not immediately lead to a detonation. The burst command disabled the fail safe circuit of the warhead and the reception channels of the guidance section . Until the moment of guidance cut off it wasmissile a guided weapon, then an unguided free-falling projectile subject to crosswind etc.

In an air burst, the warhead detonated when the air pressure measured by the eleven-aligning static tube corresponded to the barometric ignition value introduced prior to launch. In case of a ground burst, the weapon detonated on impact with the ground. The CEP ( Circular Error Probable : a radius of a circle in which 50% of the missiles would end up) in an SS mission at maximum range was in the order of ten meters. After completing the SS mission, the normal air defense mission could almost immediately be re-established.

Test of a (conventional) SS mission in the USA
(photo NIKE Historical Society)


Two firing missiles in NAMFI (photo archive author)

Compilations. Many complications could occur during an interception.

(photo archive author)



Doctrine. Ground-based air defense falls under one of the four roles of Air Power, namely Control of the Air. This means fighting the (temporary, local or absolute) air superiority, so that the own territory as well as its own armed forces are not exposed to enemy air actions, and their own offensive air actions in their own and enemy airspace can not be prevented by an opponent. Ground-based air defense falls within Control of the Air in the Defensive Counter Air subcategory : the actions take place in their own airspace in defense against attacking air forces.

Ground-based air defense takes place with due regard for four principles and six guidelines. These principles and guidelines play a dominant role at the higher level in the design of a defense against an opponent ( defense design ). NATO had opted for a double belt of guided weapon units (NIKE and HAWK) along the border with the Warsaw Pact, followed by an area where fighter planes were responsible. Short-time systems (SHORAD) were locally charged with local air defense.

The HAWK and NIKE missile belts in West Germany (HCGLVD)


The four principles are: mass, mix, mobility and integration . NATO fulfilled these principles through the large number of deployed weapon systems (including NIKE, HAWK and SHORAD), the mix of weapon systems with complementary capacities (in height, range, rate of fire, frequency range, ability to deal with electronic interference, etc.), the tactical mobility (but not for NIKE) and the integration and deployment of the various weapon systems under central NATO command but with decentralized execution of the operations (' centralized command, decentralized execution' ).

The six guidelines are: mutual support, overlapping fires, balanced fires, weighed coverage, early engagement and defense in depth . By positioning the systems in such a way that they covered each other's dead zones ( mutual support ) and the interception zones overlapped ( overlap fires ), a closed defense could be created, even if a system was (temporarily) not operational. Balanced fires guaranteed a defense to all directions. Because NIKE and HAWK had a 360º range, an opponent on the home flight could also be intercepted again. Weighted coveragegave priority to air defense directed against an opponent from the east. Due to the large reach of NIKE an opponent could be seized early ( early engagement ). The positioning of multiple and diverse weapon systems in the depth of their own airspace ( defense in depth ) meant that an opponent had to survive several air defense systems before he could reach his goal in the hinterland of the NATO area.

Command & Control. As indicated above, the guiding principle for command was centralized command, decentralized operations . This was given as follows. During the Cold War, the (most) Member States of NATO had placed their air defenses under the direct authority of NATO. That is, that is 12GGW a NATO Assigned Force was under Operational Command (OPCOM) from COM2ATAF. As a result, the Netherlands no longer had direct operational control over 12GGW. Only the logistical and administrative support was a Dutch responsibility, exercised by the Command Tactical Air Forces in Zeist. Preparedness and commitment was determined by a NATO commander. For 12GGW the NATO command line ( chain of command ) ran from top to bottom as follows:

  • Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons / Mons, Belgium.
  • Commander Allied Forces Central Europe (COMAFCENT) in Brunssum, the Netherlands.
  • Commander Allied Air Forces Central Europe (COMAIRCENT) at Ramstein, Germany.
  • Commander Second Allied Tactical Air Force (COM2ATAF) at Rheindahlen, Germany.
  • Commander Air Defense Operations Center (COMADOC) in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
  • Commander Sector Operations Center 2 (COMSOC2) in Uedem, Germany.
  • Commander Control and Reporting Center (CRC) Uedem in Uedem (call sign ' CRABTREE '). From the CRC, a SAM Allocator led the actions of the guided weapons in the sector of the CRC.
  • Commander 12GGW in Hesepe, Germany (with Group Operation Center / GOC in Vörden).


In peacetime, the NATO command line over 12GGW was delegated by SACEUR to COMSOC2. In times of crisis and war, the order of command could both be taken back by a higher NATO commander than COMSOC2, or further delegated to a lower level. If in war time all connections with higher echelons were broken, the decision-making power was on interceptions at the BCO. Incidentally, (at least in theory) the BCO always had the last word in interceptions; the NATO books were very firm in this: 'The BCO has the final responsibility to ensure that no-friendly aircraft are mistakenly engaged' .

Alert States . The preparedness and deployment of the NATO air defense was first and foremost a result of the Alert State announced by NATO . The higher the proclaimed Alert State , the higher the preparedness of the air defense. Furthermore, the announcement of certain Alert States automatically led to the entry into force of measures of importance to air defense, eg the activation of NATO identification procedures . In addition to Alert States , NATO was also able to announce partial measures authorizing the use of air defense units by ECCM ( Electronic Counter Counter Measures).: measures to minimize the effectiveness of enemy electronic interference).

In addition to the Alert States, which had to be proclaimed at the political level by the North Atlantic Council (NAR), there was also a system of alarm measures that could be activated by NATO military commanders in the event of a (threatening) surprise attack.

STO . The NATO commander had a number of options to direct the deployment of air defense. He indicated this by issuing a SAM5 Tactical Order (STO). In any case, an STO was issued at midnight, additional STOs were unlimited in number, depending on changes in the tactical situation etc. If the connection with the higher echelon was lost, the highest level with which contact still existed issued a new STO.

The STO stated among other things:

The BCO noted the STO with a glass pencil on a display in front of him and could register any Case I and / or II areas on the horizontal plotting board . Flight Levels vary in altitude above sea level with the current air pressure in the atmosphere; for the actual height, these had to be corrected using D-values . This was the only meteo information needed for the NIKE weapon system and this was provided by the SOC / CRC.


ROE (force instruction). In peacetime and until the announcement of certain Alert States were the Tri-MNC's ROEs (the Rules of Engagement / ROE of the three joint highest NATO military authorities (SACEUR, SACLANT and CINCCHAN)). These ROEs meant that only self-defense could be fired on a potential opponent, or on behalf of the NATO commander who had the Engagement Authority .

Self-defense was applicable when an aircraft actually attacked the squadron or had clear intentions for it. Because an aircraft could not be controlled by NIKE at such a short distance and low altitude, self-defense by NIKE was a non-option. After Cancellation of Tri-MNC's ROEs could be fired on targets in accordance with what is stated in the STO.

Airspace Control. Aircraft with an offensive task (support of ground troops, attacks in the hinterland of the opponent), reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters had to fly by HIMEZ and LOMEZ to carry out their duties. It was of course very important that these aircraft and helicopters were not fired by NATO's own air defense. In order to prevent these blue-on-blue engagements , procedures were defined: the Airspace Control (ASC). The ASC measures came into effect automatically with the announcement of certain NATO Alert States .

First of all, this involved the use of IFF . All NATO aircraft were deemed to carry IFF. If a potential target was interrogated by, for example, a NIKE unit and the target was a NATO aircraft, then the aircraft gave a positive response that was visible on the PPI, provided NIKE unit and aircraft carried the same code. Because the IFF mode changed 1 and 3 codes every half hour, great care was required for both parties to carry the correct code. IFF Mode 4 was a crypto-mode that remained in force for 24 hours, but not all NATO air forces performed IFF mode 4.

If the IFF of an aircraft was defective, there was still a procedural way of identification. This consisted of a system of airways. As long as an aircraft flew through an airway, it had to be regarded as a friendly aircraft on the basis of this ' track behavior' , even if no positive IFF response could be obtained . Every eight hours a new airway system was announced through an Airspace Coordination Order (ACO). The ACO was drawn on a plexiglass plate that was attached before the horizontal plotting board . Due to LED lights on the plot pins, the position of the tracked target could be correlated with the ACO.

Target assignment and selection. The NIKE system was equipped with an Automatic Data Link (ADL). During Centralized and Decentralized Operations , a target through ADL could be assigned electronically to a NIKE unit by the higher echelon (eg the CRC). The BCO was alerted by a buzzer to the target allocation, at the same time a combination of illuminated lights indicated what the assignment was ( search, track, engage, cease fire, hold fire ) and a symbol on the PPI indicated the target position. The ADL assignment could be specified orally with, for example, the target height or the track number assigned by NATO . Once the TTR lockon the assigned target , the ADL also passed it electronically to the higher echelons. The fire command and the mission result were also reported to the higher echelon. Possible oral traffic took place via the GOC; it was not possible to talk to the CRC directly from the BCT. The voice traffic between BCT and GOC took place via the hotloop : a conference circuit where the GOC and the BCTs of the four squadrons were connected.


In Decentralized and Autonomous Operations the BCO itself selected the targets . Usually multiple targets were simultaneously eligible for interception, so there were rules for prioritizing targets . First of all, a fixed part of the HIMEZ was assigned to 12GGW, outside of these other NIKE units were responsible for the air defense. There was an overlap area between the 12GGW and the nearest neighbors, but it could only be fired under the supervision of the CRC.

Within the 12GGW course, the four squadrons had their own sector: their Primary Target Area / PTA. These sectors overlapped but the GOC coordinated the deployment via hotloop and ADL so that not two squadrons would target the same target . If the connection between GOC and a squadron disappeared, the squadron only fired on targets within its own PTA. The priority was then on the target , within the PTA, flying from east to west, which would first pass the imaginary north-south line through the squadron. Targetsthat caused serious electronic interference to HIPAR or LOPAR had the highest priority because those likely approaching formations attempted to mask enemy aircraft.

Fire Control Orders (FCO) . For minute-to-minute control of a NIKE unit in the event of failure of the ADL, oral FCOs between squadron and GOC were used. Used FCOs were:

  • Search : an assignment from the GOC to follow a target . For example: A (callsign for 118 Sq), search MH234 (NATO track number ), KH2030 (position in GEOREF coordinate), northwest (heading), angels 15 (height in 1000 ft), speed 500 (speed in knots).
  • Engage : task from the GOC to combat a target ( A, engage MH234 ).
  • Cease Fire : assignment from the GOC to continue to follow a target but not (further) to combat. If there was already fired on this target , the interception could be completed. ( A, cease fire MH234 ).
  • Hold Fire : command from the GOC to immediately interrupt an interception (possibly by Command Destruct on a missile in flight ) and to break the lock on the target . ( A, hold fire on MH234 ).
The BCO reported back to the GOC with:
  • Lock-on report : A locked on MH234, northwest, KH1025, angels 15, speed 500 .
  • Engage report: A engaged MH234.
  • Mission Result report : A effective MH234 .

SAMSTATREP. The higher echelon had to keep an overview of the status of all underlying units. To this end, the NIKE units sent a SAM Status Report (SAMSTATREP) via the GOC to the SOC once a day and after each change in (equipment) status . In such a report was the status of the squadron, any defective equipment, when the squadron would again assume its assigned status and the number of remaining missiles .


KILLSUM . Periodically, the squadron had to report all successful interceptions to the GOC by means of a Kill Summary (KILLSUM). The report mentioned the time and location of the interception. It was the task of the computer operator to fill in the KILLSUM. The GOC collected the KILLSUMs and submitted them to the CRC, so that the NATO commanders had information about the losses to the enemy caused by the NIKE units.

Jamming report. If electronic interference was encountered, this had to be reported to the higher echelon. In this ' Jamming Report ' the direction of the malfunction or the position of the disturbing aircraft, the frequency band on which the interference was interrupted, the nature of the malfunction (' music ' was electronic malfunction, ' stream ' was mechanical malfunction ( chaff )) and the severity of the malfunction (with ' grade three ' being the heaviest form with which operation was hardly possible).

LCT (photo Ramiro Ballola)



The Cold War threat and the high preparedness requirements required a high degree of staff training and the ready readiness of the equipment. That is why there was an extensive repertoire of exercises and evaluations to train and evaluate staff. The number of exercises and their character was recorded in the Annual Practice Program (JOP).

Crewdrill. The most frequent form of exercise was the crewdrill . This was initiated by the BCO at least once per service if the squadron was on the highest peace preparedness (for NIKE this was 30 minutes). The aim was to arrive at a fire-ready status within the time limit of the preparedness status, while carefully carrying out all prescribed procedures. The crewdrill started with the announcement of ' Blazing Skies ' by the BCO, switching the Battery Status Indicator to ' blue status ' and the sounding off of the siren. The crew rushed at the LA and IFCturned to their position and presented themselves presently. As soon as all were present, the BCO gave the mission: ' BCO to all stations, Blazing Skies, Case III, Surface-to-Air, BHE '. All crew members did their part of the crewdrill . Equipment at the IFC was adjusted, if necessary with the help of the '226' service. On the LA, the launchers and missiles were prepared for use, except for the connection of the booster ignition cable .

Part crewdrill for the LCT - (OL152 / 3)


Meanwhile, the BCO held a time and line check with the GOC and inquired about the presence of ' Zombies ' (civil airplanes in the NATO airspace from one of the Warsaw-Pact countries, which were suspected of electronic espionage and therefore should not be radiated by the own radars). As soon as all posts reported ' ready for action ', the BCO ordered ' prepare to engage, red status '. If the MTR had a lock on the selected missile , the crewdrill was complete. Then there was some further practice with eg Emergency Procedures , or the system went back to 'yellow status ' for system checks . If everything went to a satisfactory state, the equipment returned to ' white status ' for the ordered peace preparedness.

Crewdrill on a Section - (photo NIMH)

Preparedness test and Operational Readiness Evaluation . Preparatory tests could be proclaimed by the GOC or a higher echelon and were intended to see whether a squadron was able to fulfill the commissioned preparedness status. A preparedness test could be evaluated, but then only crucial errors were taken into account. NATO-wide, the unannounced standby test ' Active Edge' was held at least once a year , not only for air defense units.

An interesting exercise was the simulated interception of an SR-71 ' Blackbird' . The US Air Force had regularly stationed an aircraft in the UK and periodically conducted a reconnaissance flight along the Inner German Border (IGB, the 'Iron Curtain'). If ' CRABTREE ' knew about such a flight, the hot squadron was alerted in anticipation of the flight. The SR-71 rose, was refueled above the North Sea and then made its flight along the IGB from north to south and then returned to the home base over southern Germany. With a timely target allocation was a lock on the SR-71 approximately above Hamburg possible. The computer then gave a target speed of 1600 knots (almost 3000 km / h) at a height of 80,000 ft (almost 25 km)! The PKP was in the vicinity of Kassel, ie the computer indicated a forward angle of the missile of around 90 degrees. At such a speed there was no sharp maneuvers of the target , so the SR-71 was easy to follow by the TTR. Sometimes there was slight electronic interference of the target but nothing that made the TTR operators nervous.
On the other hand, the SR-71 was also bound to peace restrictions regarding the use of all jamming .


An Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE) was commissioned by Commandant 12GGW by the parts-ORE team and consisted of a crewdrill followed by system checks , all rigorously evaluated for compliance with established drills and regulations. An ORE resulted in a combined valuation: OPS / NONOPS vwb the technical condition of the system and achieve the recommended preparedness within the time limit, Excellent, Satisfactory, Marginal or Unsatisfactory vwb crew performance (compliance with procedures). Periodically, an SS-ORE was also held: this started with the receipt of an encoded SS order approximately one and a half hours before the intended execution of the mission. This ORE also assessed the decoding of the assignment and the correct execution of the calculations, as well as the preparation of a nuclear missile for an SS mission together with American personnel (simulated) . A NONOPS / UnsatisfactoryORE naturally provided an uncomfortable visit to the Squadron commander for the BCO in question.

T1 training. Each fire control crew had to be regularly subjected to training with the T1: operating under conditions of severe electronic interference ( jamming ). A T1 training period was concluded with a number of evaluated scenarios in which the score Excellent, Satisfactory, Marginal or Unsatisfactory could be achieved.

Electronic interference is at the basis of the type of ' brute force jamming ' or ' deception jamming '. With the first type, the opponent tries to drown out the radar reflection of the target by masking ' noise ' or other pulse shapes and thereby masking himself. Because he generates a strong radar signal, he betrays his position at least in azimuth and elevation (where the signal is strongest). Through certain anti-jamming circuits, the azimuth of the target can be visualized as an azimuth stripe ( jam strobe ) on the PPI and the BCO instructs the TTR to trace the target in this azimuth (' jam strobe procedures').'). If the target also TTR can disturb the (fast) changing frequency or by using the TRR yet the range is determined and the target locked .

In ' deception jamming ' the opponent attempts to mislead the BCO by creating false target echoes on the PPI and / or by forcing a ' break-lock ' at the TTR or TRR, for example with a ' range gate stealer '. With a lot of training and the use of the anti-jamming circuits of the equipment, an experienced crew was able to counter this malfunction. Because elevation and / or range operators were often conscripts and therefore frequently exchanged, there was a continuous need for training.


Mechanical failure by ' chaff ' (metallized strips or wires, fired or dropped by the aircraft, reflecting radar energy) was intended to mask the target or force a ' break lock ' by targeting a target with a larger RCS than the real target . simulate. However, chaff is (almost) silent in the air and is therefore easy to detect as deception.

Nuclear inspections. Every year, the US authorities controlled nuclear facilities, surveillance, assembly and operations with nuclear warheads . Not only American personnel were evaluated, also Dutch assembly , launch and security personnel were subjected to strict controls. An unsatisfactory result would have led to decertification of the unit as nuclear capable , which would not remain unnoticed in 'The Hague'.

Group alarm and TACEVAL Phase 1. A Group alarm was issued for 12GGW as a whole. It intended to practice the transition from peacetime to crisis and war conditions. For the operational crew , the priority was to achieve a fire-ready status as quickly as possible. In addition, it was necessary to call back staff on leave, to tighten the security measures, to camouflage the equipment, to set up command posts, to distribute weapons and ammunition, etc. etc.

Commissioned by SACEUR, COMAIRCENT was responsible for the Tactical Evaluation (TACEVAL) program. This program was intended to give SACEUR insight into the preparedness and quality of the (air defense) units that had been placed under his command. A TACEVAL consisted of two parts: an unannounced Phase 1 and a programmed Phase 2 . In a Phase 1 , a team of NATO evaluators simultaneously 'raided' all 12GGW locations and evaluated whether the squadrons were ready for deployment within the specified time.
They also evaluated the measures that were taken as described in the Group Alert.

Tactical exercises. Every Friday morning the tactical exercise ' Scholarship ' took place for the four 12GGW squadrons led by the GOC. A complete war was then fought over a period of three hours. Often one of the squadrons was evaluated by the staff of 12GGW. On Tuesday afternoon the exercise 'Good afternoon' was played with the hot squadron , and on Wednesday and Thursday with as many squadrons as possible the exercise ' Cover Girl '. These were good opportunities to train new staff who were in a Training During Employment trajectory and to assess them.

In tactical exercises, especially in complex scenarios or during the deployment of nuclear warheads , the BCO was able to use some assistance. This was delivered by the Commandant Operational Flight (COV) or the most experienced BCO. This then took place behind the BCO, looked over his shoulder and assisted in the identification and selection of targets - especially when Case I was in force. He also maintained contact with the GOC for the reception of STOs and the sending of SAMSTATREPs, so that the BCO could keep its full attention during the execution of the mission.


Group exercises and TACEVAL Phase 2. Group exercises followed a scenario of crisis building within NATO up to and including full scale nuclear warfare, all in a period of a few days. The main focal points were Operations, Support (technical and logistical support) and Survival-to-Operate (STO: surviving and fighting after enemy actions such as air strikes, attacks with chemical and nuclear weapons, ground attacks, treatment of wounded, dealing with explosive explosives, extinguishing fires, repairing damage, etc.). Group exercises were mostly evaluated by staff of the Air Force Staff and Staff Tactical Air Force, supplemented with evaluatorsfrom foreign (NIKE) units.

A standard scenario was based on a rapidly increasing tension between NATO and Warsaw Pakt, resulting in the rapid announcement of ever higher Alert States . Soon hostilities broke out and air defense was conducted in Centralized Operations under the leadership of the SOC or CRC. Already, the air situation became too complex for Centralized Operations and Decentralized Operations was proceeded . In the meantime, numerous simulated incidents took place on and around the squadron: espionage, subversion, demonstrations outside the fence, ground attacks by special forces, air strikes, deaths and injuries, fire, damage to equipment and ultimately chemical or nuclear contamination. A large part of the exercise was the staff dressed in NBC6 - protective clothing. After NBC attacks the gas mask often had to be worn for a longer period of time (for several consecutive hours).

In all these incidents, it was the art to be able to continue to provide air defense for as long as possible. This meant shifting staff when there were victims or applying artifices to get a non-operational system back into operation (limited). If in an incident, for example, the data cable between RCT and TTR had failed, the same cable between RCT and TRR could replace this broken cable. Although the squadron was more vulnerable to electronic warfare, it could still provide air defense. At a higher level, the Group Staff was also sometimes challenged to make one operational one of two non-operational squadrons.

Air strikes (often live and spectacular) were an excellent moment to break the connection with higher echelons so that the squadron had to perform Autonomous Operations . Then even more stringent attention was paid to the correct identification procedures: the shooting of two or more 'own' aircraft irrevocably led to an unsatisfactory result for the squadron. A number of 150 interceptions per squadron during an exercise was not uncommon. This went far beyond the number of available missiles natural; soon the squadron got an unlimited reload of missiles from the evaluators .

Naturally, the scenario provided for a moment when NATO felt compelled to use nuclear weapons itself. The deployment of nuclear warheads by the squadron, either against air targets or against ground targets, was particularly pleasing to the evaluators . Here too there was absolutely no room for making mistakes. A classic in the scenario was the breaking of connections with the higher echelon plane after the receipt of a nuclear release and a STO that Case I dedicated. The was then to the BCO, a lieutenant of about 23 years, to decide independently on the deployment of nuclear weapons against air targets. The BCO then tried to positively influence the squadron score by criticizing often several evaluators with (feigned) nonchalance, but successfully flawlessly firing all released nuclear missiles . In the case of SS missions, the responsibility of the BCO was more limited: without an explicit order (' execution order ') of the higher hand, it should not be fired.

6 NBC = Nuclear, Biological and Chemical


The scenario ended with the full nuclear war and often literally with a big bang: by means of a simulated attack, so many personnel and equipment were switched off that further deployment was impossible. As a bolt from the blue, a cease-fire between NATO and Warsaw-Pakt was then agreed and the exercise ended.

In a TACEVAL Phase 2 , the same scenario took place within a time frame of approx. 44 hours, but was evaluated by the NATO TACEVAL team supplemented by specialists appointed by NATO from foreign (NIKE) units. For the fire control crews, end exercise meant that an evaluated T1 run (missions under electronic fault conditions) still had to be done. Two fire control crews from each squadron proceeded to the squadron where the T1 was present. Each crew was subjected to a run in which nine enemy targets under heavy jamminghad to be combated. The situation was hampered by the presence of friendly aircraft or disturbing aircraft that remained out of reach. Each crew could score a maximum of 1000 points , while 100 points were lost when a target was not intercepted . The scores of the two crews of one squadron were average and counted for the squadron result. The results of the Phase 2 were combined with those of the Phase 1 and formulated as an integrated assessment. The final score gave a score (1 = Excellent , 4 = Unsatisfactory ) for both Overall (facilities) and Performance(human performance), in the categories Alert Procedures & Readiness (mainly the result of Phase 1 ), Operations, Support and STO . Of course there was a lot of competition between the squadrons regarding the highest scores. The results of 12GGW were almost always ' above average '. The TACEVAL was one of the two operational highlights of the year within a squadron.

ASP. The second annual highlight was the Annual Service Practice (ASP). To this end, a part of the squadron traveled to the NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) on Crete. Here a NIKE system and two missiles had to be prepared for a life-firing . In the preparation of the system strict attention was paid to strictly following the regulations, every small deviation was penalized with the deduction of points. With this, the ASP mainly deflected into an exercise in accurately reading the rules instead of a tactical exercise. On the firing day two fire control crews were subjected to a simple tactical scenario, but under heavy electronic interference, where onecrew (later both crews ) fired a missile on a (simulated by the T1) target . For all concerned, it was a great satisfaction if the system appeared to work ' as advertised ', but especially for the Section Chief it was quite a relief if the missile was indeed 'over the fence'.


During the life-firing (s) were close watch on all the staff and other interested parties' under cover were (ie were under a concrete roof). Sometimes a life-firing led to a fail-safe burst after booster separation , after which metal fragments and lumps of rainwater poured toxic, solid fuel onto the LA.

After the firing (s) the score (on a scale of 0-100%) was announced. For Dutch NIKE squadrons, a score below 95% was disappointing. A good score contributed, but was certainly not precondition for an exuberant missile away party in Chania. A good tradition was that the headgear of one of the visiting military dignitaries was stolen and put before the firing under the booster . The remainder of his headgear, if recovered, was then offered to him during the missile away party . Navy officers with their white caps were a popular target, but some of them could not appreciate this tradition.

The penultimate Dutch NIKE is fired, the last one is ready. (photo archive author)



Education. Fire guidance and launch personnel were initially trained at the Air Force Electronic and Technical School (LETS) in Schaarsbergen near Arnhem. Because the LETS had little or no fire control and launch equipment available, the teaching was mainly theoretical in nature. After obtaining the theoretical certificate, the students were seconded to 12GGW for their practical training: the Training during Employment (OTT). Here the real tricks of the trade were taught by the OTT teacher and all the exercises and activities had to be carefully recorded by the student in his OTT task book. The OTT tutor foresaw the activities of a valuation, the OTT supervisor was responsible for quality control.

If the OTT teacher was of the opinion that the course participant could operate independently, a practical exam was taken. With a positive result followed placement at one of the squadrons and division with a crew . Placing also meant (except for conscripts) the right to foreign allowance, the granting of the NATO Status (which gave immunity to prosecution by the German judiciary but also access to the duty-free shops of the allies), the right to family reunification, the right to duty-free purchase of alcohol. , cigarettes, car and durable goods (household goods etc.) and granting a monthly ration duty-free fuel.

Maintenance. Maintenance of the NIKE system was a joint responsibility of crew and technicians. Mechanics were not linked to a crew (they turned their own schedule), but always when there was a crew on duty there was also a '226' (radiator) present. The mechanics responsible for the LA were in principle only present during office hours.

The maintenance was based on the calendar and divided into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual and two-yearly maintenance. The content of the maintenance was recorded in the various Technical Manuals , the TMs. For example, during the weekly maintenance the complete alignment procedure (LOCOS) between MTR, TTR and TRR was carried out, completed with a Simultaneous Tracking test. The 'higher' the maintenance, the more it was the responsibility of the mechanic and the less that of the crew , and vice versa. In spite of this, almost all maintenance was in close cooperation between crewand mechanic. Specialized assistance came from the Group Headquarters or the Electronic Air Force Equipment Depot (DELM) for annual and two-yearly maintenance.

Defective parts that could not be repaired quickly on site were replaced by new or refurbished parts ( repair by replacement ). The defective parts were returned to the Group Headquarters and repaired there or sent to the DELM in Rhenen or to the NATO Maintenance and Supply Center in Capellen, Luxembourg.


The missiles also had to be checked periodically. The assembly staff then disassembled the missiles into main groups, checked and replaced the parts where necessary, and mounted missile and booster again on the launching handling rail. The ( dis ) assembly of the warhead, rocket engine and booster took place for safety reasons in the Warhead Building, which was located within an earthen wall. Here also nuclear warheads were (de) assembled, of course under the strict supervision of American personnel and completely according to a ' step-check-recheck-next step''method.

Maintenance to the guidance section
(photo NIMH)

Transport of a missile to or from the Assembly
(photo NIMH)

During crew drills , exercises etc. the system sometimes wanted to show off. Corrective actions according to the booklet (TM) would then take too much time. An experienced mechanic (or an operator ) often knew a trick not described in any book to get the system up and running again. The most extreme form of this was a ' hammer adjustment ': a well dosed and placed bang against the equipment that often achieved the desired effect.

Although the NIKE Hercules system had advanced technology for its time, it proved fortunately possible in practice to keep the system up and running with simple tools and thorough expertise from the mechanic. It was not uncommon for a complaint to be solved on the spot with old-fashioned soldering work or even with unorthodox repair methods using duct tape, paper clips or other improvised means. A NIKE mechanic was supposed to be able to do more than just 'change bins' ( repair by replacement )!

Control of a launcher,
in the background the entrance to the Section bunker (photo NIMH)


STATUS AND CREW SERVICES Status. Life on a NIKE squadron was largely determined by the commissioned preparedness: the status . The status was the maximum time available to present a firing-ready system after the assignment. The NIKE system had four statuses :

  • 30 minutes status ( hot status ). Until 1972 the hot status was five minutes and later 15 minutes, but NATO apparently had confidence in sufficient warning time so that a 30 minute readiness was sufficient.
  • 3 hours. This was the backup for the squadron on hot status . The 3-hour squadron took over the status of the hot squadron every week when it carried out the weekly checks.
  • 12 hours
  • 12 hours Restricted (12R). With this status, the squadron carried out the monthly maintenance and in principle was not ordered to a higher status .

NATO demanded from each NIKE group that the above statuses were distributed over the squadrons, with a hot status squadron available at all times . The group itself could determine the distribution of the status of the squadrons, but NATO had to inform about the distribution. If a squadron, and in particular the hot status squadron, could not fulfill its assigned status, everything was done to restore the status . This could mean that at night or during the weekend it was worked through if parts from the Group Headquarters were to be performed at night and day. As the statusstill could not be repaired within the foreseeable future, another squadron was 'requisitioned' to replace the dropped squadron. The GOC was permanently on hot status and, moreover, it was a requirement that an incoming encrypted NATO alarm message was decrypted in a matter of minutes and (encoded) passed to the squadrons.

Crew services. Every squadron had three crews . There were no facilities for sleeping and showering on the squadrons. That is why the crews ran a continuous schedule of day, evening and night shifts. In combination with the four statuses , this resulted in a duty roster of 12 services in a 12-week cycle.

The latter was sometimes wrong: the outgoing crew had to remain on duty longer. If there were no prospects that the hot status could be taken over in the foreseeable future, the entire emerging crew traveled by bus to the squadron that still had the hot status . Because of the distance between the squadrons, this soon involved a journey of one and a half hours. Arriving at the other squadron, keys, crypto material, vault codes etc. had to be transferred before the outgoing crewfinally - and pretty sobriety - could go home. Meanwhile, the non-operational squadron was working hard to get the equipment operational again. For that extra staff had to be taken away from home, after all the complete crew including the mechanic had traveled to the other squadron. An interesting exercise was when the non-nuclear 223 Sq had to take over the hot status on a nuclear squadron.

A weekend service was followed by a long weekend (Thursday 13: 30h to Monday 17: 00h), the weekend thereafter was a short free weekend (Friday 13h30 to Monday 23h00).

When 12GGW consisted of only two squadrons between 1984 and 1987 (118 Sq and 220 Sq), a different weekend schedule was in force. The night service crew of the squadron with the hot status then turned the weekend night shifts (from 19: 00h to 08: 00h) and the night shift crew of the other squadron the day shifts from 07: 00h to 20: 00h. At that time there was no law on working hours or that did not apply to defense personnel yet.

In addition to functional activities such as crew drills , OREs, T1 training, maintenance, etc., there was plenty of time for other activities during the evening, night and weekend shifts. The first computer games were played on the Commodore 64 and the Atari, a lot of TV and videos were watched (also 'nature films', most of the crews consisted exclusively of manfolk), card, there was regularly a little piece of toast, books had to be adapted and studied, but there was a lot of coffee.

Because the GOC did not have sufficient officers for a full-time schedule, periodic GOC services were run by other qualified (staff) staff. The BCOs of the four squadrons also participated in this roster. A few times a year, the BCO then had to run an evening / night shift at the GOC. The GOC did have one sleeping space and here, in contrast to the night shifts on the squadrons, you could sleep at night.


Of course there was also occasion for a joke, especially with new (conscripted) personnel. A well-known variant of the strawberry ladder was the changing of the range zero pips of the MTR or TTR, which, incidentally, did not exist in physical form. These were supposedly low-level radioactive and had to be brought from the IFC to the LA to exchange them. For this purpose a fresh conscript (preferably of the type of smart nurse) was appointed who, dressed in NBC protective clothing, had to bring the package with stretched arms walking to the LA to minimize radioactive contamination. He was then accompanied by the fire truck with a blue flashing light and behind it a pack of gloomy fire controllers. New staff could also be kept busy with the search for the 'Return to Launcher switch '. The practical exam of a new BCO was traditionally concluded with a beer shower followed by the victim's cleaning by the fire brigade.

Neventaken . In addition to the actual operational task, fire control and launch personnel had various additional tasks.