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MGM-134A Midgetman
Type Intercontinental ballistic missile
Service history
In service prototype only (1991)
Used by US
Production history
Designer Martin Marietta
Specifications
Weight 13,600 kg (30,000 lb)
Length 14 m (46 ft)
Diameter 1.17 m (3 ft 10 in)

Blast yield 475 kiloton

Propellant solid fuel
Operational
range
11,000 kilometers (6,800 miles)
Launch
platform
Hard Mobile Launcher (HML)
Transport Hard Mobile Launcher (HML)
A Midgetman test launch

The MGM-134A Midgetman, formally designated as the Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (SICBM)[1], was an intercontinental ballistic missile developed by the United States of America.

Contents

Overview

The Midgetman grew out of a requirement expressed in the mid 1980s by the US Air Force for a small ICBM which could be deployed on road vehicles. Fixed silos are inherently vulnerable to attack, and with the increasing accuracy of submarine launched ballistic missiles there was a growing threat that the Soviet Union could launch large numbers of missiles from off the coast, destroying most of the US ICBM force before it could be used. By producing a mobile missile which could not easily be targeted by enemy forces, the Air Force hoped to negate this possibility. It was also a response to the Soviet development of SS-24 (rail mobile) and the SS-25 (road mobile) ICBMs.

System definition studies for the SICBM (Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) commenced in 1984, and by the end of 1986 Martin Marietta was authorized to proceed with full development of the XMGM-134A Midgetman. The first prototype missile was launched in 1989, but tumbled off course and was destroyed over the Pacific Ocean after about 70 seconds[1]. The first successful test flight took place on April 18, 1991[2].

In design the XMGM-134A was a three-stage solid-fuelled missile. Like the LGM-118 Peacekeeper it used the cold launch system, in which gas pressure was used to eject the missile from the launch canister. The rocket would only ignite once the missile was free of the launcher.

The Midgetman was to be carried by a Hard Mobile Launcher (HML) vehicle (see additional pictures at Small ICBM Hard Mobile Launcher ). Most of these vehicles would normally remain on bases, only being deployed in times of international crisis when nuclear war was considered more likely.

The Midgetman had a range of some 11,000 kilometers (6,800 miles). The warhead comprised a single Mark 21 re-entry vehicle with a 475 kiloton W87-1 thermonuclear warhead, also used on the LGM-118 Peacekeeper.

Hard Mobile Launcher

With the end of the cold war in the 1990s the US scaled back its development of new nuclear weapons. The Midgetman program was therefore cancelled in January 1992.

The Soviet equivalent of this missile was the RSS 400 Kuryer which was prepared for testing but never flown. This could have filled the role of the more cost effective Topol M road mobile ICBM.

Specifications

  • Length : 14 m (46 ft)
  • Diameter : 1.17 m (3 ft 10 in)
  • Weight : 13,600 kg (30,000 lb)
  • Range : 11,000 km (6,800 miles)
  • Propulsion : Three-stage solid-fueled rocket
  • Warhead : W-87-1 thermonuclear (475 kiloton) in Mark 21 RV

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Unarmed Midgetman Missile a Failure in First Test - New York Times
  2. ^ MGM-134A Midgetman / Small ICBM
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