During the Second World War, work was carried out in Germany, Great Britain and the United States to create anti-aircraft guided missiles. But for various reasons, none of the prototypes created was never accepted into service. In 1945, several dozen batteries of 90- and 120-mm anti-aircraft guns equipped with radar fire control devices were deployed in stationary positions around major cities and important defense and industrial centers in the United States. However, in the first post-war years, about 50% of the available anti-aircraft artillery was sent to warehouses. Large-caliber anti-aircraft guns were preserved mainly on the coast, in the areas of large ports and naval bases. However, reductions also affected the Air Force, a significant part of the piston-engine fighters built during the war years was scrapped or handed over to the allies. This was due to the fact that in the USSR until the mid-1950s there were no bombers capable of performing a combat mission on the continental part of North America and returning back. However, after the end of the American monopoly on the atomic bomb in 1949, it could not be ruled out that in the event of a conflict between the United States and the USSR, Soviet Tu-4 piston bombers would make combat missions in one direction.
Anti-aircraft missile system MIM-3 Nike Ajax
Even before the start of mass production in the USSR of long-range bombers capable of reaching the continental United States, Western Electric specialists in 1946 began to create the SAM-A-7 anti-aircraft missile system, designed to combat air targets flying at high and medium altitudes.
The first firing tests of the engines took place in 1946. But a significant number of technical problems significantly delayed development. Many difficulties arose with ensuring the reliable operation of the second-stage liquid-propellant engine and developing the launch accelerator, which consisted of 8 small solid-propellant jet engines arranged in a cluster scheme, in a ring around the central body of the rocket. In 1948, it was possible to bring the sustainer rocket engine to an acceptable level, and a monoblock solid-propellant upper stage was created for the first stage.
Guided launches of anti-aircraft missiles began in 1950, and in 1951, during a test firing at the range, it was possible to shoot down a B-17 radio-controlled bomber. In 1953, after control tests, the complex, which received the designation MIM-3 Nike Ajax, was put into service. Serial construction of air defense systems began in 1951, and the construction of ground positions in 1952 - that is, even before the official adoption of the MIM-3 Nike Ajax into service. In Russian-language sources, this complex is called "Nike-Ajax", although in the original version it sounds like "Nike-Ajax". The MIM-3 "Nike-Ajax" complex became the first mass-produced air defense system to enter service, and the first anti-aircraft missile system deployed by the US Army.
As part of the MIM-3 Nike Ajax complex, an anti-aircraft missile was used, the main engine of which ran on liquid fuel and an oxidizer. The launch took place using a detachable solid-propellant booster. Targeting - radio command. The data supplied by the target tracking radars and missile tracking about the position of the target and missile in the air were processed by a calculating device built on electrovacuum devices.The device calculated the calculated meeting point of the missile and the target, and automatically corrected the course of the missile defense system. The missile warhead was detonated by a radio signal from the ground at the calculated point of the trajectory. For a successful attack, the missile would usually rise above the target, and then fall to the calculated interception point. A unique feature of the Nike-Ajax anti-aircraft missile was the presence of three high-explosive fragmentation warheads. The first, weighing 5.44 kg, was located in the bow section, the second - 81.2 kg - in the middle, and the third - 55.3 kg - in the tail section. It was assumed that this would increase the likelihood of hitting a target due to a more extended cloud of debris.
The rocket's curb weight reached 1120 kg. Length - 9, 96 m. Maximum diameter - 410 mm. Oblique range of defeat "Nike-Ajax" - up to 48 kilometers. The rocket, accelerating to 750 m / s, could hit a target at an altitude of a little over 21,000 meters.
Each Nike-Ajax battery consisted of two parts: a central control center, where bunkers for personnel were located, radar for detection and guidance, computing-decisive equipment, and a technical launch position, which housed launchers, missile depots, fuel tanks, and an oxidizing agent. In a technical position, as a rule, there were 2-3 missile storage facilities and 4-6 launchers. Positions of 16 to 24 launchers were sometimes erected near major cities, naval bases and strategic aviation airfields.
The test of the Soviet atomic bomb in August 1949 made a great impression on the American military and political leadership. In conditions when the United States lost its monopoly on nuclear weapons, the Nike-Ajax anti-aircraft missile system, together with jet fighter-interceptors, was supposed to ensure the invulnerability of North America from Soviet strategic bombers. The fear of atomic bombing has become the reason for the allocation of huge funds for the large-scale construction of air defense missile systems around important administrative and industrial centers and transport hubs. Between 1953 and 1958, about 100 MIM-3 Nike-Ajax anti-aircraft batteries were deployed.
At the first stage of deployment, the position of Nike-Ajax was not strengthened in engineering terms. Subsequently, with the emergence of the need to protect the complexes from the damaging factors of a nuclear explosion, underground storage facilities for missiles were developed. In each buried bunker, up to 12 missiles were stored, fed horizontally through the opening roof by hydraulic drives. The rocket raised to the surface on a rail cart was transported to the launcher. After loading the rocket, the launcher was installed at an angle of 85 degrees.
At the time of adopting the MIM-3 air defense system, Nike-Ajax could successfully fight all long-range bombers that existed at that time. But in the second half of the 1950s, the likelihood of Soviet long-range bombers reaching the continental United States increased significantly. At the beginning of 1955, the combat units of Long-Range Aviation began to receive M-4 bombers (chief designer V.M. Myasishchev), followed by the improved 3M and Tu-95 (A.N. Tupolev Design Bureau). These machines could already reach the North American continent with a guarantee and, having inflicted nuclear strikes, return back. Taking into account the fact that cruise missiles with nuclear warheads were created in the USSR for long-range aircraft, the characteristics of the Nike-Ajax complex no longer seemed sufficient. In addition, during operation, great difficulties were caused by refueling and servicing rockets with an engine running on explosive and toxic fuel and a caustic oxidizer. Most notable was the incident that occurred on May 22, 1958, at a position in the vicinity of Middleton, New Jersey. On this day, as a result of a rocket explosion caused by an oxidizer leak, 10 people died.
The positions of the MIM-3 Nike-Ajax air defense system were very cumbersome, the complex used elements, the relocation of which was very difficult, which actually made it stationary.During the firing practice, it turned out that it was difficult to coordinate the actions of the batteries. There was a fairly high probability that one target would be simultaneously fired upon by several batteries, while another target that entered the affected area could be ignored. In the second half of the 1950s, this deficiency was corrected, and all command posts of anti-aircraft missile systems were connected to the SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) system, which was originally created for the automated guidance of interceptor fighters. This system linked 374 radar stations and 14 regional air defense command centers throughout the continental United States.
However, improving team manageability did not solve another important problem. After a series of serious incidents involving fuel and oxidizer leaks, the military demanded the early development and adoption of air defense systems with solid-propellant missiles. In 1955, fire tests took place, as a result of which it was decided to develop the SAM-A-25 air defense system, which was later named MIM-14 Nike-Hercules. The pace of work on the new complex accelerated after intelligence reported to the US leadership about the possible creation in the USSR of supersonic long-range bombers and cruise missiles with an intercontinental range. The American military, acting ahead of the curve, wanted a missile with a long range and a large ceiling. At the same time, the rocket had to fully use the existing infrastructure of the Nike-Ajax system.
In 1958, the mass production of the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules air defense system began, and it quickly replaced the MIM-3 Nike-Ajax. The last complex of this type was dismantled in the USA in 1964. Some of the anti-aircraft systems removed from service by the US Army were not disposed of, but transferred to NATO allies: Greece, Italy, Holland, Germany and Turkey. In some countries, they were used until the early 1970s.
Anti-aircraft missile system MIM-14 Nike-Hercules
The creation of a solid-propellant rocket for the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules air defense system was a great success for Western Electric. In the second half of the 1950s, American chemists were able to create a solid fuel formulation suitable for use in long-range anti-aircraft missiles. At that time, this was a very great achievement, in the USSR it was possible to repeat this only in the second half of the 1970s in the S-300P anti-aircraft missile system.
Compared to the MIM-3 Nike-Ajax, the anti-aircraft missile of the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules complex has become much larger and heavier. The mass of the fully equipped rocket was 4860 kg, the length was 12 m. The maximum diameter of the first stage was 800 mm, the second stage was 530 mm. Wingspan 2, 3 m. The defeat of the air target was carried out by a high-explosive fragmentation warhead, which weighed 502 kg and equipped with 270 kg of explosive NVX-6 (an alloy of TNT and RDX with the addition of aluminum powder).
The starting booster that separates after running out of fuel is a bundle of four Ajax M5E1 solid-propellant engines, which is connected to the main stage by a cone. At the tail end of the booster bundle there is a collar to which four large-area stabilizers are attached. All aerodynamic surfaces are located in coincident planes. In a few seconds, the accelerator accelerates the missile defense system to a speed of 700 m / s. The main rocket engine ran on a mixed fuel of ammonium perchlorate and polysulfide rubber with an aluminum powder additive. The combustion chamber of the engine is located near the center of gravity of the missile defense system and is connected to the outlet nozzle by a pipe around which the onboard equipment of the rocket is mounted. The main engine is switched on automatically after the separation of the starting booster. The maximum rocket speed was 1150 m / s.
Compared to the Nike-Ajax, the new anti-aircraft complex had a much greater range of destruction of air targets (130 instead of 48 km) and an altitude (30 instead of 21 km), which was achieved through the use of a new, larger and heavier missile defense system and powerful radar stations.The minimum range and height of hitting a target flying at a speed of up to 800 m / s are 13 and 1.5 km, respectively.
The schematic diagram of the construction and combat operation of the complex remained the same. Unlike the first Soviet stationary air defense system S-25, used in the air defense system of Moscow, the American air defense systems "Nike-Ajax" and "Nike-Hercules" were single-channel, which significantly limited their capabilities when repelling a massive raid. At the same time, the single-channel Soviet S-75 air defense system had the ability to change positions, which increased survival. But it was possible to surpass the Nike-Hercules in range only in the actually stationary S-200 air defense missile system with a liquid-propellant missile. Before the appearance in the United States of the MIM-104 Patriot, the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft systems were the most advanced and effective available in the West. The firing range of the latest versions of Nike-Hercules was brought to 150 km, which is a very good indicator for a solid-propellant rocket created in the 1960s. At the same time, firing at long distances could only be effective when using a nuclear warhead, since the radio command guidance scheme gave a large error. Also, the capabilities of the complex to defeat low-flying targets were insufficient.
The detection and targeting system of the Nike-Hercules air defense missile system was originally based on a stationary detection radar from the Nike-Ajax air defense missile system, operating in the mode of continuous radiation of radio waves. The system had a means of identifying the nationality of air targets, as well as target designation means.
In the stationary version, the air defense systems were combined into batteries and divisions. The battery included all the radar facilities and two launch sites with four launchers each. Each division consisted of three to six batteries. Anti-aircraft batteries were usually placed around the protected object at a distance of 50-60 km.
The purely stationary version of the placement of the Nike-Hercules complex, soon after being adopted, ceased to suit the military. In 1960, a modification of the Improved Hercules appeared - "Improved Hercules". The upgraded Improved Hercules (MIM-14V) air defense system has introduced new detection radars and improved tracking radars, which have increased noise immunity and the ability to track high-speed targets. An additional radio range finder carried out a constant determination of the distance to the target and issued additional corrections for the calculating device. Some of the electronic units were transferred from electrovacuum devices to a solid-state element base. Albeit with certain limitations, this option could already be deployed in a new position within a reasonable time frame. In general, the mobility of the MIM-14V / C Nike-Hercules air defense system was comparable to the mobility of the Soviet long-range S-200 complex.
In the United States, the construction of the Nike-Hercules complexes continued until 1965, they were in service in 11 countries in Europe and Asia. In addition to the United States, licensed production of the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules air defense system was carried out in Japan. A total of 393 ground-based anti-aircraft systems and about 25,000 anti-aircraft missiles were fired.
The miniaturization of nuclear charges, achieved in the early 1960s, made it possible to equip an anti-aircraft missile with a nuclear warhead. On the MIM-14 family of missiles, nuclear warheads were installed: W7 - with a capacity of 2, 5 kt and W31 with a capacity of 2, 20 and 40 kt. An aerial explosion of the smallest nuclear warhead could destroy an aircraft within a radius of several hundred meters from the epicenter, which made it possible to effectively hit even complex, small-sized targets like supersonic cruise missiles. About half of the Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missiles deployed in the United States were equipped with nuclear warheads.
Anti-aircraft missiles carrying nuclear warheads were planned to be used against group targets or in a difficult jamming environment, when accurate targeting was impossible. In addition, missiles with nuclear warheads could potentially intercept single ballistic missiles.In 1960, an anti-aircraft missile with a nuclear warhead at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico successfully intercepted an MGM-5 Corporal ballistic missile.
However, the anti-missile capabilities of the Nike-Hercules air defense system were rated low. The probability of hitting a single ICBM warhead did not exceed 0, 1. This was due to the insufficiently high speed and range of the anti-aircraft missile and the inability of the guidance station to steadily track high-speed high-altitude targets. In addition, due to the low guidance accuracy, only missiles equipped with nuclear warheads could be used to combat ICBM warheads. With a high-altitude air explosion, due to the ionization of the atmosphere, a zone not visible by radars was formed, and the guidance of other interceptor missiles was made impossible. In addition to intercepting air targets, MIM-14 missiles equipped with nuclear warheads could be used to deliver nuclear strikes against ground targets, with previously known coordinates.
In total, 145 Nike-Hercules batteries were deployed in the United States by the mid-1960s (35 rebuilt and 110 converted from Nike-Ajax batteries). This made it possible to effectively cover the main industrial areas, administrative centers, ports and aviation and naval bases from bombers. But by the late 1960s, it became clear that the main threat to US targets was ICBMs, not the relatively small number of Soviet long-range bombers. In this regard, the number of Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft batteries deployed in the United States began to decline. By 1974, all long-range air defense systems, with the exception of positions in Florida and Alaska, were removed from combat duty. The last position in Florida was eliminated in 1979. The stationary complexes of the early release were for the most part scrapped, and the mobile versions, after refurbishment, were transferred to overseas American bases or transferred to the allies.
In Europe, the bulk of the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules complexes were deactivated after the end of the Cold War and partially replaced by the MIM-104 Patriot air defense system. The longest air defense system "Nike-Hercules" remained in service in Italy, Turkey and the Republic of Korea. The last launch of the Nike Hercules rocket took place in Italy at the Capo San Larenzo training ground on November 24, 2006. Formally, several positions of MIM-14 Nike-Hercules remain in Turkey to this day. But the combat readiness of the air defense system in the hardware part of which is a high proportion of electrovacuum devices raises doubts.
Incidents that occurred during the operation of the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules air defense system
During the operation of the Nike-Hercules complexes, there have been several unintentional missile launches. The first such incident occurred on April 14, 1955, at a position at Fort George, Meade. It was there that at that moment the headquarters of the US National Security Agency was located. Nobody was hurt during the incident. A second similar incident occurred at a position near Naho Air Force Base in Okinawa in July 1959. There is information that a nuclear warhead was installed on the missile at that moment. The rocket was launched from the launcher in a horizontal position, killing two and seriously wounding one soldier. Breaking through the fence, the rocket flew across the beach outside the base and fell into the sea near the coast.
The last such incident occurred on December 5, 1998, in the vicinity of Incheon, South Korea. Shortly after launch, the rocket exploded at a low altitude over a residential area in the western part of Incheon, injuring several people and knocking out windows in houses.
By 2009, all the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules air defense systems available in South Korea were removed from service and replaced by the MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems. However, not all elements of the outdated complex were immediately scrapped. Until 2015, powerful surveillance radars of the AN / MPQ-43 radar were used to monitor the air situation in the areas bordering the DPRK.
Ballistic missiles based on SAM MIM-14
In the 1970s, the United States considered the possibility of converting it into operational-tactical missiles designed to destroy ground targets for the late MIM-14В / С anti-aircraft missiles being removed from combat duty. It was proposed to equip them with high-explosive fragmentation, cluster, chemical and nuclear warheads. However, due to the high saturation of the American army with tactical nuclear weapons, this proposal did not meet with support from the generals.
However, given the significant number of short-range ballistic missiles in North Korea, the command of the South Korean army decided not to dispose of the outdated long-range missiles, but to convert them into operational-tactical missiles called Hyunmoo-1 (translated as "guardian of the northern sky"). The first test launch at a range of 180 km took place in 1986.
Alteration of the decommissioned missiles into OTR began in the mid-1990s. A modified version of this ballistic missile with an inertial guidance system is capable of delivering a warhead weighing 500 kg to a range of about 200 km. For a long time, the Hyunmoo-1 was the only type of OTP in service with the army of the Republic of Korea. In the modernized version of the Hyunmoo-2A, which entered the troops in 2009, the firing range was increased to 500 km. South Korean engineers have managed to squeeze the most out of the outdated solid-propellant anti-aircraft missiles. According to available information, these missiles are equipped with a guidance system with satellite navigation. To launch ballistic missiles, both standard launchers of the Nike-Hercules air defense missile system and specially created towed launchers can be used.
Anti-missile complex Nike Zeus
Back in 1945, impressed by the use of the German A-4 (V-2) ballistic missiles, the US Air Force initiated the Wizard program, the purpose of which was to study the possibility of intercepting ballistic missiles. By 1955, experts came to the conclusion that intercepting a ballistic missile is, in principle, a solvable task. For this, it was required to timely detect an approaching projectile and bring an interceptor missile with an atomic warhead into the oncoming trajectory, the detonation of which would destroy the enemy's missile. Taking into account the fact that it was at this time that the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft complex was being created, it was decided to combine these two programs.
The Nike-Zeus A anti-missile, also known as the Nike-II, has been in development since 1956. The three-stage rocket of the Nike-Zeus complex was a modified and modified Nike-Hercules missile, in which acceleration characteristics were improved due to the use of an additional stage. The rocket, about 14.7 meters long and about 0.91 meters in diameter, weighed 10.3 tons in the equipped state. The defeat of ICBMs was to be carried out by a 400-kiloton W50 nuclear warhead with an increased neutron yield. Weighing about 190 kg, a compact thermonuclear warhead, when detonated, ensured the defeat of an enemy ICBM at a distance of up to two kilometers. When irradiated by a dense neutron flux of an enemy warhead, neutrons would provoke a spontaneous chain reaction inside the fissile material of an atomic charge (the so-called "pop"), which would lead to the loss of the ability to carry out a nuclear explosion.
The first modification of the Nike-Zeus A anti-missile, also known as Nike-II, first launched in a two-stage configuration in August 1959. Initially, the rocket had developed aerodynamic surfaces and was designed for atmospheric interception.
The missile, equipped with a guidance and control system, was successfully launched on February 3, 1960. Taking into account that the military demanded a ceiling of up to 160 kilometers, all launches under the Nike-Zeus A program were carried out only as experimental, and the data obtained was used to develop a more advanced interceptor.After a series of launches, changes were made to the rocket design to ensure greater flight speed and range.
In May 1961, the first successful launch of a three-stage version of the rocket, the Nike-Zeus B, took place. Six months later, in December 1961, the first training interception took place, during which a rocket with an inert warhead passed at a distance of 30 meters from the Nike-Hercules missile defense system. acting as a target. If the anti-missile warhead was combat, the conditional target would be guaranteed to be hit.
The first Zeus test launches were carried out from the White Sands test site in New Mexico. However, the proving grounds located in the continental United States were not suitable for testing missile defense systems. Intercontinental ballistic missiles launched as training targets, due to closely spaced launch positions, did not have time to gain sufficient altitude, which made it impossible to simulate the trajectory of a warhead entering the atmosphere. When launched from another point of the globe, in the event of a successful interception, there was a threat of debris falling onto densely populated areas. As a result, the remote Pacific atoll of Kwajalein was chosen as the new missile range. In this area, it was possible to accurately simulate the situation of intercepting ICBM warheads entering the atmosphere. In addition, Kwajalein already partially had the necessary infrastructure: port facilities, a capital runway and radars.
A stationary ZAR (Zeus Acquisition Radar) radar was built specifically for testing the Nike-Zeus missile defense system on the atoll. This station was intended to detect approaching warheads and issue primary target designation. The radar had a very high energy potential. High-frequency radiation posed a danger to people at a distance of more than 100 meters from the transmitting antenna. In this regard, and in order to block interference arising from signal reflection from ground objects, the transmitter was isolated around the perimeter by a double inclined metal fence.
The selection of targets in the upper atmosphere was carried out by the ZDR (Zeus Discrimination Radar) radar. By analyzing the difference in the deceleration rate of the escorted warheads in the upper atmosphere, real warheads were separated from lighter decoys, the deceleration of which was faster. Real warheads of ICBMs were taken to accompany one of the two TTR radars (English Target Tracking Radar - target tracking radar). Data from the TTR radar on the target position in real time was transmitted to the central computing center of the anti-missile complex. After the missile was launched at the estimated time, it was taken to escort the MTR radar (MIssile Tracking Radar - missile tracking radar), and the computer, comparing the data from the escort stations, automatically brought the missile to the calculated interception point. At the moment of the closest approach of the interceptor missile, a command was sent to detonate a nuclear warhead with a goal. The anti-missile system was capable of simultaneously attacking up to six targets, two interceptor missiles could be guided to each attacked warhead. However, when the enemy used decoys, the number of targets that could be destroyed in a minute was significantly reduced. This was due to the fact that the ZDR radar needed to "filter out" false targets.
The Nike-Zeus anti-missile system, covering a specific area, was supposed to include two MTR radars and one TTR, as well as 16 missiles ready to launch. Information about the missile attack and the selection of decoys was transmitted to the launching positions from the ZAR and ZDR radars. For each specific attacking warhead, one TTR radar worked, and thus the number of tracked and fired targets was seriously limited, which reduced the ability to repel a missile attack.From the moment the target was detected and the firing solution was developed, it took approximately 45 seconds, and the system was physically unable to intercept more than six attacking warheads at the same time. Taking into account the rapid increase in the number of Soviet ICBMs, it was predicted that the USSR would be able to break through the missile defense system by launching more warheads at the same time at the protected object, thereby overloading the capabilities of the tracking radars.
After analyzing the results of 12 test launches of Nike-Zeus anti-missile missiles from Kwajalein Atoll, US Department of Defense experts came to the disappointing conclusion that the combat effectiveness of this anti-missile system was not very high. There were frequent technical failures, and the jamming immunity of the detection and tracking radar left much to be desired. With the help of Nike-Zeus, it was possible to cover a limited area from ICBM attacks, and the complex itself required a very serious investment. In addition, the Americans seriously feared that the adoption of an imperfect missile defense system would push the USSR to build up the quantitative and qualitative potential of nuclear weapons and deliver a preemptive strike in the event of an aggravation of the international situation. In early 1963, despite some success, the Nike-Zeus program was closed. Subsequently, the obtained developments were used to create a completely new Sentinel missile defense system with the LIM-49A Spartan antimissile (development of the Nike series), which was to become part of the transatmospheric interception system.
An anti-satellite complex was created on the basis of the missile defense test complex on the Kwajalein atoll within the framework of the Mudflap project, in which modified Nike-Zeus B interceptors were used. -81 Agena. The combat duty of the anti-satellite complex lasted from 1964 to 1967.