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U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet



Martin Marietta LGM-118A "Peacekeeper" ICBM

Propulsion:  First Stage: Thiokol solid-fuel rocket motor; 500,000 lbs thrust;
Second Stage:   Aerojet solid-fuel rocket motor;
Third Stage:   Hercules solid-fuel rocket motor;
Post-Boost Stage:   Rocketdyne liquid-fuel rocket motor
Diameter:   7 ft 8 in
Length:   71 ft 0 in
Weight:   195,000 lbs (at launch)
Speed:   5,000 mph
Range:   6,000 miles
Service Ceiling:   500 miles
Armament:   Nuclear warheads
Cost:   $70,000,000

In November 1971, as the LGM-30G Minuteman III was being deployed, the Air Force released a report calling for even further improvements in the survivability, accuracy, range, payload, and targeting flexibility of the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile force. These refinements were required to keep pace with anticipated Soviet ICBM capabilities in the future. The initial development of an advanced new ICBM, the LGM-118, was started in February 1972 and it was soon designated "Missile X," or simply "MX." It was intended to eventually replace the Minuteman, with initial operational capability scheduled for 1985.

By 1977 it was decided that the MX would be comprised of three stages powered by solid-propellant rocket motors and a liquid-fueled post-boost vehicle that would carry ten Multiple Independently-targeted Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs). The new ICBM would initially be housed and launched from existing Minuteman silos, while a mobile basing scheme would be developed later. The missile's guidance system would provide a degree of accuracy high enough to defeat even the hardest military targets.

Several new technologies would increase the effectiveness of the MX system, including telescoping exit cones on the solid-fuel rocket engines to increase efficiency, Kevlar motor casings to reduce weight, and the cold launch method of missile launching (in which the missile is ejected from the silo by a tremendous jet of compressed air and the first stage rocket motor ignites at an altitude of about 150 feet, thereby causing far less damage to the silo than an in-ground launch). The contract for final assembly of the first fifty MX missiles was issued to Martin Marietta in April 1978 and in the next few months contracts for the rocket motors were issued to Thiokol, Hercules, Aerojet General, and the Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell. Full-scale development of the MX system began in September 1979.

Congress did not like the idea of simply placing the MX in existing Minuteman silos due to the inherent vulnerability of fixed launch sites, so alternate mobile basing methods were explored, including both air and ground-based schemes. (One early plan called for air-launching the MX by carrying it aloft inside a specially-configured C-5 Galaxy cargo plane.)

The first ground-based scheme considered was called Multiple Protective Shelters (MPS) and called for 200 missiles to be shuttled at random between 4,600 "soft" shelters (not hardened against nuclear blasts) spread out over remote sections of Nevada and Utah. The idea was that in order for Soviet ICBMs to defeat the MX system totally, all of the shelters would have to be destroyed, taking more than half of the warheads then in the possession of the Soviet Union. This meant that other prime military targets in the United States, including Washington, DC, would be protected from possible attack by the MX basing scheme. But government estimates ultimately proved that the total cost of the MPS strategy would be prohibitive -- over $37 billion in all -- forcing other basing options to be studied.

Another less-expensive idea for MX basing was called "dense pack," in which 100 missiles would be emplaced in super-hardened silos spaced 1,800 feet apart. The theory was that during a full-scale nuclear attack on the United States the first wave of detonations over the closely-packed silos would predetonate subsequent incoming ICBM warheads, thereby protecting most silos by "nuclear fratricide." However, Congress did not approve this basing scheme. In fact, it voted to suspend funding for the program until a suitable basing scheme was proposed.

Amidst this protracted debate, in November 1982 the LGM-118 MX missile was officially named Peacekeeper. In January 1983 the Reagan administration appointed the Scowcroft Committee to determine the best basing method for the Peacekeeper missiles.

By that April a two-phase scheme had been proposed in which the LGM-118 would first be promptly deployed in modified Minuteman silos, and later a smaller, highly mobile ICBM would be developed and deployed to augment the silo-based Peacekeeper force. (Mobile rail garrisoning was the leading contender for deploying the second group of fifty Peacekeeper missiles, a scheme very similar to the "Project Big Star" train system investigated for Minuteman, but funding was never approved for the second Peacekeeper purchase.)

Congress approved the Scowcroft Committee plan in May and flight testing began on June 18, 1983 with the first Peacekeeper launch. That September almost $5 billion was appropriated for building twenty-one missiles. Minuteman silo modifications soon got underway and the first Peacekeeper launch from a former Minuteman silo came on August 23, 1985. The first multiple-target test flight was successfully completed one year later.

The first operational LGM-118A missiles were delivered to Francis E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in September 1986. Initial operational capability was achieved that December. Full deployment of fifty Peacekeeper missiles was reached in December 1988.

With the signing of the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) in January 1993, MIRVed missiles were scheduled for elimination from the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the former Soviet Union. The Peacekeeper program was totally terminated, and the MIRVed Minuteman III was scheduled for rearmament with only one warhead per missile. It was agreed that in the year 2000 the United States would begin withdrawing the LGM-118A Peacekeeper from service, with phaseout to be complete by 2004.

The Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB was assigned the logistics system management of the MX missile in September 1975 and still manages the program's logistics today. Since the Peacekeeper was assembled stage by stage in the launch silo, rather than placed intact into the silo as the Minuteman had been, Hill personnel were responsible for coordinating conveyance of the various components to the launch site and assembling them. OO-ALC personnel were also trained in program reliability, nuclear surety, and the specialized repair of the transportation equipment used to transport the Peacekeeper components.
The OO-ALC Directorate of Maintenance also established a depot-level capability to repair various Peacekeeper components and support equipment.

OO-ALC was assigned prime responsibility for the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison program, which would have consisted of twenty-five specialized trains, with two missiles per train, positioned on existing Air Force bases. Since the second group of fifty LGM-118As were never procured, the Rail Garrison system was never implemented.

Hill AFB had several new facilities built in the 1980s for the Peacekeeper program, including a rail dock, a tranporter-erector repair facility, a fully functional test silo, a hazardous storage facility, and thousands of extra square feet of warehouse space. A special gantry crane was also installed to move missile motors from railroad cars to the loading dock.

SOURCE: AF FACT SHEET Martin Marietta LGM-118A "Peacekeeper" ICBM  - [Archived][DOT MIL site]
Boeing Company, “Final Test Report, Mobile Minuteman Train Test Program, ...
Directorate of Operations, “Final Report of SAC Task Force, Project Big Star

Project Big Star

An Untaken Road: Strategy, Technology, and the Hidden History of America's Mobile ICBMs
Hardcover – January 15, 2016 by Steven A. Pomeroy


Minuteman Mobility Test Train

A Minuteman Mobility Test Train was a Cold War train for Strategic Air Command testing before deployment of planned trains for launching Minuteman missiles which were to allow periodic movement for security from targeting by the Soviet missile force. At the time, the trains had the heaviest railroad cars used on regular rail routes, and rail sidings were surveyed during the trains' 1960 Operation Big Star (surveyed sites were subsequently used in 1961 by different SAC trains for evaluating bomber accuracy.)

Operation Big Star

Operation Big Star was a series of US military exercises using 4 trains (of 6 planned) from the Hill Air Force Base rail terminal over "21 railroads in the Northwest and Midwest" during summer 1960. The USAF Ballistic Missile Division conducted the tests while SAC had operational control of the trains with a "SAC task force" in Utah and on the train, military personnel and "civilian engineering, maintenance and logistic representatives" (the last 3 of the 6 planned trains were to leave from Des Moines, Iowa).

June 21–27 train
  • The 1st train of 14 cars left Hill AFB for routes "over trackage of Union Pacific, Western Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande railroads".
  • The 2nd test train with Col. Carleton V. Hansen again as "train commander" had 31 SAC "airmen and officers and 11 civilian engineering, maintenance and logistic representatives" when it left the Hill AFB rail terminal (Col. Lucion N Powell was also on the train as commander of the SAC "task force at Hill Field".)
  • July 26 train - The 3rd train had an additional flatcar with maintenance van holding a 3rd stage Hercules SRM, as well as the 1st 80 ft (24 m) "pre-prototype" launch car with special shock absorbers ("three-way stretch" system) transporting a simulated missile load using tank & steel compartments (with sand & concrete) for a total of 13 cars that left Hill on July 26. The 3rd train was plannef for a 3000 mile, 14 day trip over 7 railroads (UP, SP, WP, GN, SP&S, Milwaukee, & NP)--the 1st train's route was 1,100 mi (1,800 km) and the 2nd was 2300 (10 days), both using 11 cars. The 3rd train was near Spokane on August 6, Personnel included 35 SAC & BMD military and 13 civilians.
  • 4th train
  • The commander of the August 1960 train was Lt. Col. James F. Lambert
  • By November 16, ""no operational date had been set for the missile trains" and on December 13, 1960, a "full-scale mockup of a Minuteman train was in a big hangar at the Boeing Airplane Co. plant" (where?)(in 1959, the "assembly and recycle plant" had been planned "on the western end of Hill Air Force Base (Ogden Air Material Area) in the section formerly known as Ogden Ordnance Depot" and next to the Thiokol plant. Minuteman trains were cancelled on 14 December 1960.
Minuteman train fleet

For the operational Minuteman trains planned with "five of the 10 cars for living and working quarters for the missilemen, including a control section where two launch officers would sit at duplicate panels… separated by bullet-proof glass", the Hill Air Material Area personnel were to rebuild existing Army-owned rail "cars to handle crews and equipment" ("missile launch cars would be specially built at Utah General Depot.") On January 27, 1961, a train was in Chicago "testing switching facilities" with "launching cars weigh 127 tons, equipped with four extra wheels to bear the weight of the 30 ton Minuteman, and a set of 12 hydraulic jacks to secure the missile in firing position" (the 1st operational train was planned for June 1962.)

The planned deployment with "Minuteman trains costing more than silo sites" was for wide-ranging operations to require the enemy's use of "more than 10,000 missiles against railroad trackage to immobilize the minuteman train fleet" of 150 missiles using 100,000 mi (160,000 km) of the US's 218,000 mi (351,000 km) of tracks by 1963. American Machine and Foundry and American Car and Foundry were to develop the special railroad cars, and the plan in December 1960 included use of a "radio-launch…network of antennae buried a few feet underground adjacent to each control tower."

The plan for Minuteman trains "had been shelved temporarily" by May 19, 1961, and on December 14, 1961, the Pentagon ended the rail program due to cost.

The 1st Utah-made Minuteman was shipped to a silo field from Air Force-Boeing Plant No. 77 in July 1962 in a 63.5 ft (19.4 m) "transport-erector vehicle" on a "special-built 85-foot flatbed railroad car", and a Peacekeeper Rail Garrison plan was announced by the Reagan Administration in 1986.

For the 1st Radar Bomb Scoring train which used existing Army stock, was operated by SAC's 10th Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron, and began shortly after the Minuteman test trains (June 1961), see RBS Express.

SOURCE: Wikipedia

In the 1950s the USA had had plans for 30 trains, each with three Minuteman missiles
but the plan was scrapped on the grounds of cost.

Bandai Atomic Toy Train - Tin - 1950
US Peacekeeper system

In 1986 the USA planned a system of 25 trains, each with two Peacekeeper missiles. These trains would have two locomotives,two security cars, two missiles cars, a control car, a fuel car and a maintenance car.

The trains would have been stationed in shelters at air force bases throughout the USA and dispersed if an attack seemed imminent. Each train would have had a crew of 42 people—including the train commander, four launch control officers, four rail road engineers, one medic, six maintenance personnel, and 26 security police. The Peacekeeper missile had a range of over 8,000 miles and could carry up to ten MIRV 300 kt warheads. The plan was scrapped before any trains were deployed. - SOURCE
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