Air Force Bases

Nike Ajax Missile Specifications

In 1954, the U.S. Army deployed the world`s first operational, guided, surface-to-air missile system. This system, the NIKE Ajax, was conceived near the end of World War II and developed during the early years of the Cold War. With an increasing perception of a direct Soviet bomber threat to the American mainland, thr Army rushed NIKE Ajax into production and developed the missile system around key urban, military, and industrial locations.

The Nike Ajax contractor, Western Electric`s Bell Telephone Laboratories, teamed with numerous subcontructors to provide 350 missile batteries for domestic and over seas deployment. The primary subcontractor, Douglas Aircraft, build 13 714 missiles at its Santa Monica plant and at the Army Ordnance Missile Plant located at Charlotte North Carolina.

By 1958, the Army deployed nearly 200 Nike Ajax batteries around the nation`s cities and vital military installations. Soon thereafter, the Army began gradually deactivating the NIKE Ajax batteries and replacing them with the longer-range nuclear-capable Nike Hercules. The Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM) deactivated the last Nike Ajax batteries guarding the Norfolk, Virginia, area in late 1963.

Technical Specifications

Length: 21 feet (34 feet 10 inches with booster)

Diameter: 12 inches

Wingspan: 4 feet, 6 inches

Weight: 1 000 pounds (over 2 455 pounds with booster)

Missile fuel/oxidizer: M3, a combination of JP4 jet fuel and starter fluid consisting initially of aniline/furfuryl alcohol, later dimethyl-hydrazine, and finally, red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA).

Booster fuel: Solid propellant

Range: 25 to 30 miles

Speed: Mach 2.3 (1 679 mph)

Altitude: Up to 70 000 feet.

Guidance: Command by electronic computer and radar

* SAM-A-7 was the designation before 1962, and MIM-3, 3A were the designation used after 1962.