Air Force Bases

Nike Hercules Missile Specification

As the Nike Ajax system underwent, testing during the early 1950`s, the Army became concerned that the missile was incapable of stopping a massed Sovied air attack. To enhance the missile`s capabilities, the Army explored the feasibility of equipping Ajax with nuclear warhead, but that proved impractical, in July 1953 the service authorized development of a second generation surface-to-air-missile, the Nike Hercules. As with the Nike Ajax, Western Electric was the primary contractor with Bell Telephone Laboratories providing the guidance systems and Douglas Aircraft serving as the major subcontractor for the airframe.

In 1958, 5 years after the Army received approval to design and build the system, Nike Hercules stood ready to deploy from converted Nike Ajax batteries located in the New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago defense areas. However, as Nike Hercules batteries becam operational, the bitter feud between the Army and Air Force over control of the nation`s air defense missile force flared anew. The Air Force opposed Nike Hercules, claiming that the Army missile dupplicated the capabilities of the soon-to-be-deployed BOMARC. Eventually, both of the competing missiles systems were deployed, but the Nike Hercules would be fielded in far greater numbers over the next 6 years.

During the course of the Cold War, the Army deployed 145 Nike Hercules batteries. Of that number 35 were built exclusively for the new missile and 110 were converted Nike Ajax installations. With the exception of batteries in Alaska and Florida that stayed active until the late 70`s. By 1975 all Nike Hercules sites had been deactivated.

Technical Specifications

Length: 41 feet

Diameter: 31.5 inches

Wingspan: 6 feet, 2 inches

Weight: 10 710 pounds

Booster fuel: Solid propellant

Missile fuel: Solid propellant

Range: Over 75 miles

Speed: Mach 3.65 (2 707 mph)

Altitude: Up to 150 000 feet

Guidance: Command by electronic computer and radar

Warhead: High-Explosive fragmentation or nuclear