Nike missile


Nike missile

      any of a group of U.S. surface-to-air missiles designed in the 1940s and '50s for defense against air attack. The first was Nike Ajax, a two-staged, liquid-fueled missile 6.4 m (21 feet) long. Guided by radar, it could intercept high-flying aircraft within a range of 40 km (21 miles) at more than twice the speed of sound. Beginning in 1953, Ajax missiles were installed in fixed launchers in cities and military sites throughout the United States. They were also distributed among U.S. allies in Europe and Asia.

      In 1958 the larger Nike Hercules began to replace the Ajax. Its two-stage, solid-propellant engines could carry either a high-explosive or a nuclear warhead at over three times the speed of sound to targets as high as 45,000 m (150,000 feet) and more than 120 km (75 miles) away. A more sophisticated radar system enabled it to intercept short-range ballistic missiles as well as aircraft. Hercules missile sites in the United States were deactivated in 1974, after the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the U.S.S.R.; other Hercules missiles in Europe were replaced in the 1980s by the Patriot system.

      Nike Zeus, the first missile designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles, was developed between 1957 and 1963, but the program was abandoned in 1967.

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Universalium. 2010.

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