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Edís conversion notes:

  1. Source is "HISTORICAL MONOGRAPH - HISTORY OF THE NIKE HERCULES WEAPON SYSTEM" by Mrs. Mary T. Cagle, obtained from
    	Freedom of Information Act Officer
    	Ms Vickie Weatherman
    	US Army Aviation and Missile Command
    	AMSAM-CIC
    	Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898
    	256-876-5763	fax 256-876-2057 

    in less than a month including U.S. Mail both ways !!!

  2. Scanning and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) are imperfect arts. With out a doubt, many errors in conversion from the original text have occurred and not been caught with spell checker and visual examination.

  3. Footnotes are moved to the ends of chapters

  4. The first 256 pages of 276 are here. The index is not. I do not think it is worth the work to put in all the HTML links.

  5. The formatting of the original document is replaced by HTML approximations.

  6. There were some pages that had areas with no marks, I am guessing that some of these were obscured (possibly still classified??). White space - except for space between chapters - is signaled to you by a box with "White Space in F.O.E. copy" in it.

  7. In general, photos did not survive the Xerox reproduction in a useful way. I chose not to present the results. Similar or identical photographs are widely available on the web - especially the Redstone Historical Information site.

  8. The security page is not included. (It was not modified to reflect the present downgraded security level of this document.)

  9. And don't ask me to defend the fact that about 20 percent of this document is still classified 20 years after the last Nike Hercules site was de-activated in the U.S. and most non-nuclear components are available for purchase at scrap metal prices. As mentioned in this document, Japan was licensed to produce NIKE missiles (not nuclear warheads). United States and foreign troops with no security clearance have operated and repaired NIKES for over 40 years.

    We do not retain security classification on the M-1 Garand rifle, still an effective weapon - but like the NIKE System - distributed world wide for all to see.



HISTORICAL MONOGRAPH

Project Number: AMC 75 M

HISTORY OF THE

NIKE HERCULES

WEAPON SYSTEM

U.S. ARMY MISSILE COMMAND

Redstone Arsenal, Alabama


HISTORY
OF THE
NIKE HERCULES WEAPONS SYSTEM

MARY T. CAGLE

Approved by:_____________
E. DONLEY
Major General, USA
Commanding

Issued by: Helen Brents Joiner
Chief, Historical Division
Army Missile Command
19 April 1973

Historical Monograph
Project Number: AMC 75 M


PREFACE

During the final stages of World War II, a critical need emerged for the development of a radically new air defense system to counter the threat posed by advances in offensive aircraft technology. In February 1945, following a 12-month exploratory study of a surface-to-air guided missile system, the Ordnance Department awarded the Western Electric Company a contract for further research studies and development work leading to an antiaircraft guided missile system that would be capable of engaging high-speed, high-altitude, maneuverable bombers far beyond the effective range of conventional artillery. Code named project NIKE for the Greek goddess of victory, this work paved the way for development of the renowned family of NIKE weapon systems which have served as the free world's primary air defense for nearly 20 years.

The NIKE AJAX weapon system, which became operational in 1953, was the first land-based air defense guided missile system to be tactically deployed in the United States and other allied countries. The transition from antiaircraft artillery guns to guided missiles began with deployment of the first combat-ready NIKE AJAX battalion in March 1954 and was essentially complete by mid-1958. The NIKE AJAX served the purpose for which designed; however, even before its deployment, feasibility studies were in progress on an improved air defense system to cope with the rapid advancements in aircraft altitudes, speeds, and nuclear payload capabilities. From these studies evolved the second-generation NIKE HERCULES air defense system, which began replacing the NIKE AJAX in June 1958. The NIKE AJAX system was phased out of U. S. Army units in 1964, after a full decade of active air defense service. The NIKE HERCULES system, with updated ground guidance equipment to counter the changing air threat, completed its 14th year as an operational air defense weapon in June 1972.

A historical monograph on the NIKE AJAX guided missile system was published on 30 June 1959. The present volume traces the evolution of the NIKE HERCULES weapon system from its inception in FY 1953 through FY 1972, and deals with significant NIKE AJAX developments not previously recorded.

19 April 1973, Mary T. Cagle


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter . Page
I. ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF ARMY AIR DEFENSE ROLES AND WEAPONS.1
.The Advent of Aerial Warfare 1
. Between the Wars 2
. World War II Developments 2
. The Postwar Era and Project NIKE 4
. The Korean Emergency 6
. The Transition from Guns to Guided Missiles 8
. Realignment of the Continental Air Defense Structure 9






II. PROGRAM ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT 17
. The Government-Industry Team 17
. Evolution of the Project Management Structure 19
. The Redstone Arsenal Era--1951-58 19
. The AOMC/ARGMA Era--1958-61 22
. The HERCULES/AJAX-Target Missiles-MTE Project Manager 26
. The HERCULES Project Manager--1962-70 27
. The Air Defense Special Items Management Office--1971-72 33






III. FEASIBILITY STUDY PROGRAM 35
. Early Studies 35
. Preliminary Design Studies 38
. Proposed Weapon System and Schedule 41






IV. DEVELOPMENT OF THE BASIC HERCULES WEAPON SYSTEM 53
. System Design Philosophy 53
. Revision of the Development Schedule 54
. Test Hardware and Equipment 55
. Missile and Booster Development 57
. XM-3D Solid Propellant Sustainer Motor 59
. XY-42 Booster Motor 65
. The Abortive Frangible Booster Program 67
. Guidance Section 79
. Warhead Development 80
. Ground Guidance Equipment 84
. Launching and Handling Equipment 89
. R&D Flight Test Summary 95
. Engineering-User Test Program 98
. Operation SNODGRASS 100
. Type Classification of the Basic HERCULES System 104
. Service Test Program 107
. Final Engineering Evaluation 110
. Cost Summary 114






V. PRODUCTION AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE BASIC HERCULES SYSTEM 116
. Preproduction Phase 116
. Prototype Missiles and Ground Equipment 117
. Production Engineering 120
. Production Program 120
. Facilities 123
. Missiles 123
. Ground Equipment 137
. Training Devices 143
. Training and Deployment 143
. Training Program 143
. The HERCULES-BOMARC Controversy 144
. Changes in Requirements 148
. Site Construction for CONUS Defense Areas 149
. Organization and Deployment of Tactical Units 152
. Japanese Co-Production Program 156






VI. THE NIKE HERCULES IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM 161
. Program Philosophy and Military Requirements 161
. Feasibility Studies 163
. The Improved HERCULES System 167
. Development and Production 170
. Prototype Evaluation Tests 176
. System Description 185
. Training and Deployment 187
. Phaseout of the NIKE AJAX System 190
. The Improved HERCULES ATBM System 195
. The Mobile HIPAR Program 198
. The AN/MPQ-T1 Simulator Station 198
. Maintenance of HERCULES Capabilities 202






VII. CURRENT STATUS AND COST SUMARY 209
. Engineering Support 209
. Deactivation of HERCULES Batteries 210
. Disposition of Equipment 210
. Cost Summary 211
.The HERCULES On Guard 212






Appendix..
A. Military Characteristics, NIKE HERCULES Antiaircraft
Guided Missile System
217
B. Nomenclature for Type Classified Items in the Basic NIKE HERCULES Air Defense Guided Missile System 233
C. DOD News Release - Questions E Answers: HERCULES-BOMARC 236
D. Site Construction & Deployment of CONUS (ARADCOM) Units 239






GLOSSARY . 247






INDEX.. 257






.CHARTS.
No.. Page
1. (U) USAOMC Chain of Command, Mar 58 - Jul 62 23
2. (U) NIKE HERCULES RED Structure (AOMC-ARGMA National
Mission Responsibility), 30 Apr 60
25
3. (U) Organization Chart, HERCULES Project Manager, 15 Mar 63 29
4. (U) NIKE HERCULES Development Schedule; 26 Feb 54 47
5. (U) NIKE HERCULES Production Schedule, 26 Feb 54 48
6. (U) Major Time Phases for Preproduction 118
7. (U) Materiel Flow Chart - NIKE HERCULES Motors 129
8. (U) Materiel Flow Chart - NIKE HERCULES Missile Body Section130
9. (U) NIKE HERCULES Ground Equipment Contractor Structure 140
10. (C) Intercept Capability of Basic NIKE HERCULES System (U) 165
11. (C) Intercept Capability of Improved NLKE HERCULES System (U) 166
12. (C) NIKE HERCULES Improved System Commodity Plan (U) 168
13. (U) NIKE HERCULES (Improved) Ground Equipment Contractor Structure 169






.TABLES.
No. . Page
1. (U) Projected NIKE HERCULES Costs 45
2. (U) Proposed Launching E Handling Equipment for NIKE Battery 51
3. (U) Contracts for Development of Frangible Boosters for NIKE Systems 78
4. (U) Basic NIKE HERCULES Flight Test Program, Jul-Oct 58 106
5. (C) Characteristics of the Basic HERCULES Missile (U) 112
6. (U) Ordnance Corps R&D Contracts for NIKE HERCULES System 115
7. (U) Prices for Prototype Missiles E Ground Equipment Under Contract ORD-1447 (Including Tooling) 119
8. (U) Ordnance Corps Production Engineering Contracts 121
9. (U) Ordnance Corps Facility Contracts 124
10. (U) Estimated Funding for Facilities (NIKE AJAX E HERCULES). 125
11. (C) Procurement E Delivery of NIKE HERCULES Missiles (U) {White Space} 127
12. (C) Procurement 4 Delivery of NIKE HERCULES Ground Equipment (U){White Space} 138
13. (C) Quantities E Costs of Battery Sets Produced Under Major WECo/DAC Contracts (U) {White Space} 139
14. (C) Allocation of Basic HERCULES Battery Sets (U) 150
15. (C) Evaluation of the Improved HERCULES Prototype System (U) 177
16. (C) NIKE HERCULES Missile System PEMA Cost Summary (U) 213






.ILLUSTRATIONSPage
(U) NIKE HERCULES Firing at WSMR Frontispiece
(U) Development of Antiaircraft Capability, 1917-1958 3
(U) NIKE AJAX Deployment Sites in CONUS 10-13
(U) Redstone Engineers with NIKE HERCULES Model, Mar 57 21
(U) Size Comparison - Model 1810 NIKE HERCULES and NIKE AJAX Missiles (21 Oct 53) 43
(U) NIKE HERCULES on Launcher in Firing Position 52
(U) Cutaway View of the Tactical Liquid Propellant Missile 60
(U) Cutaway View of the Proposed Solid Propellant Missile 61
(U) First Flight Test of HERCULES Missile with Solid Propellant Sustainer Motor at WSPG, 13 Mar 57 64
(U) Exploded View of the XM-42 Rocket Motor 66
(U) The HERCULES Missile E Target Tracking Radars and Acquisition Radar Emplaced at WSMR 86
(U) The NIKE HERCULES Command Guidance System 88
(U) HERCULES Missile on XM-36 RED Launcher 91
(U) Cross Section of NIKE HERCULES Underground Launcher Installation 91
(U) NIKE HERCULES Major Items 92
(U) NIKE HERCULES Major Items of Mobility Equipment 96
(C) NIKE HERCULES Characteristics, 30 June 60 (U){White Space} 113
(U) NIKE HERCULES Missile Assembly Line at COMP (Oct 58) 126
(U) Artist's Drawing of a Typical AJAX-HERCULES Installation . 153
(U) NIKE HERCULES USAREUR Installation 154
(U) First Missile Killed by a Missile (HERCULES-CORPORAL Firing) 173
(U) Functional Diagram of a Surface-to-Air Mission, Improved NIKE HERCULES System 179
(U) Functional Diagram of a Surface-to-Surface Mission, Improved NIKE HERCULES System 180
(U) Functional Diagram of a Surface-to-Air Low-Altitude Mission, Improved NIKE HERCULES System 181
(C) Improved NIKE HERCULES Acquisition System (U) 182
(U) Major Items of the Improved HERCULES System 184
(U) AJAX-HERCULES Deployment Layout in a Metropolitan Area 188
(U) Assembly & Description of the Mobile HIPAR System 199-200
(U) NIKE HERCULES missiles at an ARADCOM site on the West Coast 214
(U) HERCULES Site in Alaska 215
(U) One of the NIKE HERCULES sites in the Chicago defense area 216


CHAPTER I

(U) ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF ARMY AIR DEFENSE ROLES AND WEAPONS

The Advent of Aerial Warfare

Throughout the countless centuries of warfare the development of weapons has been characterized by an eternal duel between the offensive and the defensive, the latter historically following the former. With the introduction of each new offensive weapon affecting the strategy of warfare, these invariably follows a parallel defensive weapon to counter the potential threat to a nation's security. A historical yet contemporary example of such changes in military tactics and equipment took shape in 1914, when the airplane emerged as a powerful weapon against the Allied powers in France. On 30 August 1914, just 27 days after the war began, a single German plane bombed Paris. German air raids on London followed as early as October, and there were frequent attacks on Allied troops and supply lines in France.

Although the first military use of the airplane had occured during the Tripolian War in 1911, the development of antiaircraft artillery did not begin until after the first bombing attacks of World War I. The United States developed and produced some artillery pieces and small arms, but the air defense weapons used by the American Expeditionary Forces were acquired in large part from France and Great Britain. On 10 October 1917, some 6 months after the United States entered the war, the first U. S. Army antiaircraft units began training at Langres, France, and the first tactical batteries moved to the front in April 1918. At the end of World War I, there were about 12,000 men with antiaircraft artillery forces. American units, in action less than a year, destroyed a total of 58 enemy warplanes.l

Between the Wars

In the years between the two world wars, antiaircraft artillery grew up as a part of the Coast Artillery Corps, at that time a separate branch of the Army. The War Department had assigned the new antiaircraft mission to the coast artillery rather than the field artillery largely because the coast artillerymen had training in firing on moving objects. Although handicapped by meager appropriations for research and development, Army arsenals and laboratories managed to devise some new items of equipment and to improve old ones. But very little new equipment was forthcoming for the ground combat units until after Army appropriations began to rise in 1936. The successes of Germany's Luftwaffe in the invasions of 1939 and 1940 spurred the rapid expansion of U. S. antiaircraft artillery.

Development of Antiaircraft Capability - 1917-1958

World War II Developments

It was not until 25 years after the formation of the first units that a separate organization for antiaircraft artillery was established in the United States. On 9 March 1942, 3 months after Pearl Harbor, the Antiaircraft Command (AAC) was organized as an element of the Army Ground Forces. The growth of antiaircraft artillery forces surpassed all other arms of the Army during the war. By the end of 1943, the peak year, there were 431,000 men in more than 550 battalions, for an increase of about 1,750 percent over the pre-war strength.2

Although some antiaircraft rockets were developed during World War II, the U. S. Army continued to rely almost entirely on conventional artillery guns as its first line of defense against aerial attack. These antiaircraft weapons ranged from the .50 caliber machine gun and 37- and 40-mm. guns for protection against low-flying, strafing-type planes, to 120-mm. guns for the defense of large areas against bombers. For defense against aircraft at considerable altitudes, the Army's mainstay was the towed 90-mm. gun with a maximum vertical range of 12,000 to 13,000 yards.

A new threat, the German 650-mile-per-hour (mph) jetpropelled airplane, appeared before the end of the war, bringing to obsolescence the antiaircraft artillery fire control systems that had been designed to cope with 450-mph propeller-driven aircraft. This development, together with the advent of the guided missile and the atomic bomb in the closing days of the war, marked the beginning of a new era in the Army's air defense mission.3

The Postwar Era and Project NIKE

Soon after the war, it became apparent that antiaircraft targets of the near future would include greatly improved missiles of the V1 and V2 types and partially armored airplanes flying at various speeds up to and including the supersonic and at heights from near the ground to extremely high altitudes. Mindful of these conditions, plus the added threat of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, the War Department Equipment Board, in May 1946, advocated the development of improved air defense equipment that would be capable of detecting, destroying, or nullifying the effectiveness of all forms of aerial vehicles.

Realizing that a flexible, long-range research program would be necessary to generate new knowledge and achieve the actual design of new equipment, the board recommended that two parallel courses be pursued: the vigorous research and development of new or anticipated types of equipment, and continued improvement of existing equipment as an interim measure. The proposed solutions to the antiaircraft problem embraced the development of conventional artillery weapons having the greatest obtainable effectiveness, improved fire direction and fire control equipment, and guided missiles capable of intercepting and destroying high-speed, high-altitude aircraft and missiles of the V1 and V2 types.4

The Bell Telephone Laboratories had begun, for the Army, exploratory studies of a surface-to-air guided missile system as early as February 1944. A year later, following the introduction into combat of the German jet-propelled airplane, the Ordnance Department awarded the Western Electric Company a contract for the Bell Telephone Laboratories to perform further studies and development work leading to a new air defense system that would be capable of engaging high-speed, high-altitude, maneuverable bombers far beyond the range of conventional artillery. The Douglas Aircraft Company accepted a subcontract for design studies of the missile and launching equipment. Code named Project NIKE for the Greek goddess of victory, this work culminated in the establishment of a formal research and development program for an antiaircraft guided missile system later to be known as the NIKE AJAX. While work on the NIKE was in progress, the Ordnance Department focused its attention on the modernization of existing antiaircraft guns to counter the prevailing aerial threat. The 90-mm. (medium) and 120-mm. (heavy) antiaircraft guns of World War II were modernized by addition of the new M33 radar-directed fire control system. The only light-intermediate conventional weapon developed after World War II was the M51 SKYSWEEPER, a towed 75-mm. radar-directed antiaircraft gun. Placed in development in 1948, the SKYSWEEPER was designed to defeat 1.000-mph aircraft flying at altitudes up to 20,000 feet. The improved 90-mm. gun covered the region up to 35,000 feet, and the 120-mm. gun altitudes between 10,000 and 80,000 feet.6 As international tensions mounted in 1948, there was a new buildup of antiaircraft artillery forces. In the fall of 1949, antiaircraft artillery battalions were moved to training centers near cities they were ultimately to defend. Several months later they were deployed at their defense sites, and became the first units to establish Army antiaircraft as an integral part of the continental air defense team.7

The Korean Emergency

The announcement by President Truman in September 1949 that the Soviet Union had exploded an atomic bomb (several years ahead of prediction), the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, and the knowledge that most of the United States was in range of Russian bombers, created an urgency seldom experienced except during all-out war. Faced with the possibility that the Korean conflict might expand into a global war, the Army accelerated preparations for assuming its full share of responsibility for continental air defense.

On 1 July 1950, all artillery units having continental air defense missions were placed under the newly organized Army Antiaircraft Command (ARAACOM), with headquarters at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.8 At the same time, action was taken to speed the availability of tactical antiaircraft guided missiles to counter the new air threat. After a review of all guided missile projects, Mr. K. T. Keller, the Director of Guided Missiles, Office of the Secretary of Defense, concluded that the NIKE program was the most advanced in the development stage and offered the best defensive capabilities and growth potential. He therefore recommended that the NIKE research and development (R&D) and production processes be overlapped in order to get the missile system out of development and into the tactical weapon stage at the earliest practicable date. Approval of the Keller recommendations came in January 1951, and the Chief of Ordnance placed the NIKE program on a crash basis later the same year.

In a positive effort to expedite delivery of the NIKE I* missile system, the Chief of Ordnance selected the Western Electric Company (WECo) as the prime contractor with full responsibility for the design, development, production, and delivery of the complete tactical weapon system within the limits prescribed by the military characteristics and technical requirements. WECo retained the Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL) as its prime development subcontractor and the Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) as subcontractor for the missile and launching equipment. Contractor evaluation tests of the tactical prototype NIKE AJAX system began in January 1953 and continued through 12 May 1953. The first prototype model of battery equipment was turned over to the Ordnance Corps at White Sands Proving Ground on 15 May 1953. Service evaluation tests by tactical Army troops began on 28 October 1953, several months after the Korean War ended.9

Guided Missiles The Transition From Guns to Guides Missiles

During the years immediately following the Korean War, the "ack-ack" of conventional antiaircraft artillery guns gradually gave way to the "ack-track-smack" of the NIKE AJAX, the first landbased air defense guided missile system to be tactically deployed in the United States and allied countries. The conversion from guns to guided missile artillery began on 20 March 1954, when the first combat-ready NIKE AJAX battalion was tactically deployed at Fort Meade, Maryland, in the Washington-Baltimore Defense Area. Although conventional antiaircraft gun units continued to play important roles in augmenting the protection provided by NIKE ATAX battalions, they had already been outnumbered by the NIKE as early as December 1956. By mid-1958, the conversion to missile artillery was essentially complete, with only two gun units (both armed with the 75-mm. SKYSWEEPER) left in the U. S. air defense network.l0

NIKE AJAX batteries were installed around strategic sites in the Continental United Stares (CONUS) and overseas. Each battery was an integrated air defense guided missile unit that, with its command guidance system, could engage one aircraft at a time while maintaining continuous surveillance of all targets within the effective range of the system. Its primary mission was the destruction of long-range bombers having speeds of up to 1,100 mph. The maximum practicable range was 45,700 meters against aircraft at altitudes of up to 60,000 feet, but targets could be identified as far away as 128,000 meters, and a missile could be launched when its target was 75,000 meters from the battery.

The NIKE AJAX had a command-type guidance system with an acquisition radar on the ground that detected targets and furnished initial data on their positions to a target tracking radar, also on the ground. The latter radar obtained accurate information on the path of the target and transmitted it to the control computer, while at the same time a ground-based missile tracking radar furnished the computer with data on the position of the missile. The computer generated guidance-command signals, which were transmitted to the missile-borne guidance and control system by way of the transmitter of the missile tracking radar. The AJAX missile was first propelled by a booster motor that burned a cast, doublebase solid propellant. The booster was jettisoned after burnout, and flight was sustained by a liquid propellant motor with jet engine fuel and red-fuming nitric acid for the oxidizer. The missile carried a conventional high-explosive warhead.ll

Realignment of the Continental Air Defense Structure

The advent of the world's first land-based antiaircraft guided missile system, coupled with the growing threat of atomic attack by manned enemy bombers, brought significant changes in both the continental air defense structure and the Army's antiair missions and organization, The first came on 1 September 1954, when the Army Antiaircraft Command and its sister elements in the Air Force and Navy were combined into a single organization, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and located at Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was followed, in 1957, by a realignment of the roles and missions of the three CONAD components. The Army's air defense role was expanded by the assignment of longer ranges and broader coverage for its antiair missiles. Under CONAD, the Army was charged with point air defense by missiles fired from the ground at aerial targets not more than 100 miles away. The Air Force was responsible for manned interceptors, area defense, and missile ranges over 100 miles, and the Navy for sea approaches. Point defense included those geographical areas, cities, and vital installations that could be defended by missile units which received their guidance information from radars located near the launching site. It also included the responsibility of a ground commander for the air protection of his forces.13 On 21 March 1957, the Army Antiaircraft Command was renamed the U. S. Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM), a designation that more clearly defined the "all missile" role of the command.l4 In September 1957, the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) was formed to combine the air defense capabilities of Canada and the United States under one commander-in-chief, who also headed CONAD. The missile units of ARADCOM and its sister services were placed under NORAD's operational control. In the United States, NORAD reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff; in Canada, to the Chief of Staff Committee. The unified structure of NORAD gave the continental air defense system true "defense in depth." This strategy combined the dimension of distance with a variety of modern weapons, ready to meet and engage the enemy along the full range of his attack. While the ability to deliver a retaliatory blow remained the principal deterrent against atomic attack, improved air defenses heightened the value of the deterrent and promised to exact a high cost in any attack by manned enemy bombers.15 The month of October 1958 marked the 41st anniversary of the Army's air defense role--the beginning of the American Antiaircraft School by the American Expeditionary Force at Langres, France, on 10 October 1917. In commemoration of this historic milestone, GEN Maxwell D. Taylor, then the Army Chief of Staff, said:

The provision of antiaircraft defense is one of the most important missions assigned to the Army. We have had this job for some 40 years, during which we have conducted our side of the critical duel between the defensive weapon on the ground and the offensive aircraft in the air. Fortunately, we have always been able to keep a little ahead of the airplane as performances have increased.16
The NIKE AJAX fulfilled the mission for which it was designed and for several years served as the free world's primary air defense. However, even before deployment of the AJAX, if was realized that the weapon system possessed certain performance limitations that would prevent it from engaging formations of the faster, higher-flying jet aircraft. Though superior to conventional antiaircraft artillery against single targets at supersonic speeds and high altitudes, the AJAX target tracking radar was limited in the resolution of aircraft in formation and therefore ineffective against mass air attack. This radar had a tendency to wander from plane to plane in the attacking formation, with the result that the missile would pass between two targets and burst where no damage would be done.17 In view of the performance limitations inherent in the NIKE AJAX guided missile system and the rapid advancements in aircraft altitudes, speeds, and nuclear payload capabilities, the Ordnance Corps, in 1952, had begun feasibility studies of an improved air defense system that would be capable of countering the new aerial threat. These studies culminated in the second-generation Basic NIKE KERCULES system, which began replacing the NIKE AJAX in 1958; the Improved HERCULES system, which became operational in 1961; and the HERCULES Antitactical Ballistic Missile system, which became available in 1963.

End of Chapter 1

-------------------------


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