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Chapter 4

Proposed Air Defense Artillery Systems

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The Nike X antimissile missile system, a highly advanced defense against ICBM's and shorter range ballistic missiles such as those launched from submarines, is the only missile system of this type under development in the free world. The Department of Defense has accorded the Nike X development program a very high priority.

The system is designed to operate under a variety of attack situations, including those involving multiple ICBM's and ICBM penetration aids, such as decoys and countermeasures. It will be capable of engaging a number of targets simultaneously.

The Nike X system is unique among Army missile systems from a standpoint of design as well as function. It will be the first Army system to use phased-array radars instead of conventional radars. In terms of acceleration, the SPRINT (Solid-Propellant Rocket INTerceptor) missile (fig 96) used with the system will have the highest acceleration of any Army guided missile ever developed.

The Nike X system will consist of a control center and a launching site. The control center is the nerve center of the Nike X operations. At this center will be located the multifunction array radar(MAR), the system's high-speed digital computers, and a major part of the complex electrical and electronic equipment necessary to complete an engagement. At the launching site interceptor missiles will be housed in underground cells from which they will be fired. Also located at the launching site will be a missile site radar (MSR). This radar provides a guidance link with interceptor missiles while en route to their targets. Several launching sites may be associated with one control center.

Both the MAR and MSR are phased-array radars. Unlike conventional radars with moving antennas, phased-array radars have relatively few moving parts. Scanning is accomplished by electronic switching which directs, or bends, the radar beams at their source. Because of the speed at which this electronic switching can be carried out, the radar virtually can look in every direction at once.

During operation, the MAR will perform the functions of at least three types of conventional radars. It will perform acquisition, the initial detection and tracking of a target; discrimination, the investigation of targets to determine which carry valid warheads and which, if any, are decoys; and target

Figure %. SPRINT missile model.

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tracking, the providing of precise tracking information on the target. Discrimination involves sorting valid warheads from decoys, such as radar reflective materials and dummy warheads which might be flown with the warhead to confuse the defense. The computer in the system will analyze the data gathered. Acting on this information, it will automatically conduct an engagement from the initial detection of a target through discrimination, guidance of the interceptor missile in night, and detonation of the missile warhesd.

One of the two interceptor missiles, the Nike Zeus (fig 97), has a long-range capability. It can engage and destroy a target outside the earth's sensible atmosphere. The high-acceleration SPRINT missile will be used for shorter range intercepts. With its high-speed digital computers and extremely fast SPRINT missile, the Nike X system will be capable of killing a target within seconds. In case of a multiple ICBM attack or an : attack involving decoys, the system will be capable of engaging a number of targets simultaneously.

Nike X is the fourth-generation Nike missile system., Its roots stretch back to 1945 whenwork was started on Nikte Ajar which became the Nation's first air defense artillery missile system. Development of the Nike X system as such began in January 1963; however, Nike X evolved directly from me Nike Zeus antimissile system which had been in development aiace 1957. Nilre X will represent a number state-of-the-art improvements to the Nilre Zeus system.

Figure 97. Nike Zeus missile on R&D launcher.

During its development program, the Nike Zeus system achieved a number of test ICBM intercepts involving special target vehicles launched by Atlas and Thor I ICBM's. The intercepts were made by the Nike Zeus system at Kwajalein Atoll in the mid-Pacific. Nike X components are being tested at several locations throughout the United States. Outside the continental limits of the country, tests are being carried on at Kwajalein Atoll. Live firing tests are conmcred at White Sands Missile Range and Kwajalein Atoll.

The first test version of the MAR is located at White Sands Missile Range (fig 98), and a later version is scheduled for Kwajalein. Intercept trials, similar to those conducted with the Nike Zeus system, will be held at Kwajalein Atoll.

Western Electric Company is the prime contractor for the Nike X system. Bell Telephone Laboratories is responsible for system design and development. The missile subcontractors are Martin Company, Orlando, Florida, for SPRINT and Douglas Aircraft Company for Zeus. More than 15,000 firms throughout the United States are involved in the development program as contractors, subcontractors, and vendors. A large number of Government agencies are also contributing to the development program.

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Figure 98. MAR I at White Sands Missile Range.

The US Army Air Defense School has been an active participant in the planning for both Nike Zeus and Nike X. Contributions by the School include preparation of advance training plans, participation in maintenance and manning study groups, and attendance at in-process and quarterly reviews.


The Redeye weapon (fig 99) is a man-transportable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, air defense system to be used for protection of frontline troops. Redeye, which will be employed with company-size units, will be capable of engaging a wide variety of targets to include jets, helicopters, and reconnaissance drones. Engineering and service tests are nearing completion, with the result that the Redeye weapon will shortly be in the field.

The Redeye weapon (fig 100) is composed of two basic elements, the missile and the launcher. The missile comes sealed in the launcher and cannot be removed in the field except by firing. There are also a shipping and storage container and a test set for use at depot and ammunition supply points.

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Figure 99. Redeye in the field.

Figure 100. Redeye.

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The missile, stabilized by spring-loaded fins and steered by spring-loaded, variable incident wings, has an infrared homing guidance system, a solid-propellant motor, and a high-explosive warhead. The missile is fired from a launcher (fjg 101) approximately 4 feet long and 3 inches in diamefer. The Redeye weapon weighs 28.5 pounds. If will be operated by one man and will require a minimum of organizational maintenance.

Figure 101. Redeye launcher.

The firing procedures are relatively uncomplicated and rapid (fig 102). After a guide go/no-go check, basically a visual inspection, the gunner is ready to engage hostile aircraft. On sighting an aircraft, the gunner will identify it and, if hostile, determine when he can best engage the target. The gunner will track the hostile target in an optical sight and, at the appropriate time, energize the missile guidance system. A buzzer located in the tracking scope coves and an indicator lamp in the tracking scope reticle indicate to the gunner that the infrared seeker has locked on the infrared radiation (heat energy) being emitted by the aircraft. After assuring that the target is within range, the gunner fires the missile. When the missile is fired, a booster charge propels the missile out of the launcher. Once the missile clears the launcher by a distancesufficient to protect the gunner from blast effect, the main rocket ignites and pmvides sufficient thrust to propel the missile to the target. Heat energy generated by the target provides the necessary signal for Redeye homing guidance. After firing, the gunner can discard the launcher. In a training environment, the discarded launchers will be collected for reloading. The Redeye weapon is envisioned to be employed by a two-man firing team which will have its own transportation and communications.

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Figure 102. Redeye firing procedures.

The gunner has a most important function as far as system effectiveness is concerned; he is the radar, the identification system, and the computer. He acquires, identifies, and tracks the target; then he fires the missile.

Gunner training will include nomenclature and functioning, maintenance, aircraft identification, recognition and range estimation, system effectiveness and limitations, siting requirements, tactics of low-flying aircraft, communications procedures, Redeye team tactics, command and control, weather and terrain effectiveness, and safety. This training will be conducted in a 92-hour course. At the end of training, gunners will participate in a range firing exercise with an estimated one out of every five gunners firing a live missile. No annual refresher course is planned for Redeye gunners. Replacement gunners will be trained on a one-for-one basis which will eliminate transportation requirements to a suitable range area and also build up the number of qualified Redeye gunners in the field. It has been recommended that qualified Redeye gunners be identified by an additional MOS digit.

The US Army Air Defense School and other combat arms schools will conduct orientation training for officers and supervisory personnel. This training will initially consist of an orientation course prepared by the Air Defense School.

Since actual training cannot be conducted on the tacticalhardware, two training devices are being developed. One of these is the Redeye weapon simulator, a full-scale model identical to Redeye in weight, size, positioning of controls, and handling characteristics.

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Infrared tracking capability and sensing capability will be similar. The weapon simulator duplicates everything except firing a live missile and has a read-out device to allow an instructor to determine that theoperating sequence has been followed correctly. The Redeye handling trainer is another available training device. It contains no complex electronics and will serve as a handling trainer during field exercises, being less costly and more durable than the electronic trainer.

Due to the large number of targets that will be required for Redeye gunner training, a mwing target simulator is presently under development. Using this simulator with the Redeye weapon simulator, the trainee gunner will gain experience with numerous targets in a variety of environments. This device would also allow training in an environment that would be unsuitable for actual aircraft flights.

Redeye, coupled with a well-trained gunner, will be an effective and lethal air defense weapon in the hands of forward combat units.


The Army is currently testing another air defense artillery weapon, the Chaparral, similar to Redeye but considered merk effective. It consists of a multiple launcher mounted on a full-tracked vehicle, the armored personnel carrier XM548, now being used as the carrier for many of the Army's newest missile systems.

?he launcher turret is of the same design as that used for the famous multiple caliber .50 machinegun used so effectively against both air and ground targets during World War II and the Korean conflict.

Four Chaparral missiles are mounted on a launcher. The Chaparral is an adaptation of the Sidewinder missile which is currently used in an air-to-air role by the Air Force and Navy.

The Chaparral missile is 9 feet long and 5 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 150 pounds. In the head of the missile is an infrared seeker which will track a heat source, such as the engine of an aifcraft. The missile guidance package uses proportional navigation to guide the missile on a collision course to intercept and destroy the target aircraft.

The Chaparral gunner sits in the center of the turret behind a plexiglass shield which protects him from missile back-blast. He has before him a control panel which indicates the status of each missile on the launcher and provides him with the necessary controls to activate the missiles, rotate and elevate the launcher, and fire the missiles.

The Chaparral fire unit is highly mobile, is capable of fast reaction, and has a high rate Of fire. When fielded, it will provide an important addition to air defense of the division area.


The requirement for an improved surface-to-air missile system developed during an evaluation of field army air defense conducted by Combat Developments Command late in

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1962. The US Army Air Defense School and Combat Developments Command Air Defense Agency were represented on the committee which recommended an improved surface-to-air missile system for defense of the field army.

SAM-D is to be an air defense system capable of defending the field army against the air-supported threat and tactical ballistic missiles. The system is to be mobile and capable of engaging several targets simultaneously and will have a high system reliability factor. SAM-D will give additional assurance of adequate protection of forces operating with the field army. This extremely advanced system, which will be mounted in a minimum number of vehicles, is in the extremely early development stage.

If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen

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Updated November 5, 1997