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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

705th Strategic Missile Wing

The first Western European nation to receive American-made IRBMs was Great Britain. On 25 March 1957, the last day of the Bermuda Conference, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan issued a joint communique announcing a broad agreement on the deployment of Thor IRBMs in the United Kingdom. Eleven months later, the two governments signed an agreement providing for the deployment of four Thor IRBM squadrons to England. Headquarters SAC activated the 705th Strategic Missile Wing (IRBM-Thor) on 20 February 1958 at Lakenheath Royal Air Force (RAF) Station, United Kingdom, to monitor the Thor IRBM program in the United Kingdom and provide technical assistance to the four RAF Thor squadrons. Shortly thereafter, the Air Force transferred the 705th SMW to South Ruislip and merged it with Headquarters 7th Air Division.

Transferred to the Royal Air Force on 22 June 1959, the 77th RAF Strategic Missile Squadron at Feltwell, England became the first British-based Thor IRBM squadron to reach operational status. At the same time, SAC retained control over the squadron's nuclear warheads and assigned a detachment to perform four functions: (1) retain custody and control over, and provide maintenance for, reentry vehicles and warheads; (2) receive and initiate U. S. warhead release orders; (3) operate USAF communications facilities; and (4) provide training to the Royal Air Force. On 11 September and 22 December 1959, the second and third British-based Thor IRBM squadrons were declared operational and assigned to Royal Air Force personnel. When SAC turned over the fourth and final British-based Thor IRBM to the Royal Air Force on 22 April 1960, the deployment of the Thor IRBM weapon system in the United Kingdom was completed.

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