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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

MGM-134A Midgetman / Small ICBM

The Scowcroft Commission recommended the development of a new, lightweight missile carrying only one reentry vehicle. President Reagan authorized full-scale development of the Small ICBM (SICBM) in December 1986. SICBMs would be housed in mobile launchers based at widespread locations. When hostilities threatened, the launchers would drive out onto the roadways and scatter across the country. The program narrowly escaped termination in 1988 because of reduced funding. It achieved its first totally successful flight test on 18 April 1991, when a SICBM that had been cold-launched from a canister at Vandenberg AFB reached its target in the Kwajalein Test Range. Nevertheless, President Bush canceled the SICBM program in January 1992 because strategic tensions seemed to have decreased after the end of the Cold War.

The development program produced an engineering model, or Engineering Test Unit (ETU), of a mobile, radiation-hardened, truck launcher designed to carry and launch the MGM-134A Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (unofficially known as the "Midgetman"). It can travel up to 55 mph on the highway, but it can also travel off the road. The vehicle is capable of using the trailer-mounted plow to dig the launcher into the earth for additional protection from a nuclear blast. The ETU tractor-launcher combination weighs 239,000 lbs. and has a draw bar pull capability of more than 80,000 lbs. It is powered by a 1,200 hp. Rolls-Royce Perkins diesel engine that drives all eight tractor wheels through an electro-hydraulic transmission. The ETU was designed and built by Boeing Aerospace and Electronics, and by Loral Defense Systems Division. It was delivered to the Air Force in December 1988 and tested until 1991 at Malmstrom AFB, Montana.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:36:19 ZULU