44. Report Prepared in the Department of Defense1


A. Background

The purpose of this report is to give the status of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program as required by NSC Action No. 14332 and the status of the 1500 mile ballistic missile plans as required by NSC Action No. 1430c.3

As part of the National Security Council consideration of the Technological Capabilities Panel Report (NSC 5522),4 the Department of Defense presented a briefing on the intercontinental ballistic missile program to the Council on 28 July 1955.5 The question of the program priority was considered by the Council 8 September 1955.6 In approving NSC Action No. 1433 resulting from the 8 September meeting, the President directed that the U.S. ICBM program be a research and development program of the highest priority above all others. It was further directed that the Secretary of Defense prosecute the program with maximum urgency; that all other Executive departments and agencies assist as required; and that the Secretary of Defense report to the Council in December on the status of the program and the major problems involved.

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In its consideration of the ICBM project, the Technological Capabilities Panel also commented on a possible intermediate range (1500 mile) ballistic missile (IRBM) and recommended the development of such a missile with the suggestion that both land-basing and ship-launching be considered. The Department of Defense concurred in principle with the development of the IRBM capability; and the President approved NSC Action No. 1430c which noted that the Department of Defense had several different development plans under consideration and would report to the Council, not later than 1 December 1955, on the status of those plans, indicating, if possible, which the Defense Department proposed to implement and including an estimate of the time when an IRBM might become operational.

B. Organization

In response to the Presidential directive a study has been made of the administrative arrangements and management controls necessary to prosecute the ICBM program with maximum urgency. In addition, the study included consideration of the achievement of an intermediate range (1500 mile) ballistic missile capability at the earliest possible date. It was determined that the Department had the technical capability to undertake the development of an IRBM concurrently with the present ICBM effort, with a reasonable assurance of bettering the time schedule set for the ICBM. It was further determined that in order to carry out these programs at the maximum rate technology will permit, it would be necessary to devise a specialized management structure to minimize the delays inherent in program review and administration and the potential interference between these programs. There is at present no cheap and easy way which will permit the earlier achievement of a militarily usable weapon. Furthermore, it is believed that the early flight tests of the ICBM and IRBM vehicles during 1957 will satisfy the possible need for “demonstrations.” During the development of these missiles reasonable relaxation of range and accuracy requirements will be subject to constant consideration should advances in the operational availability dates be achievable. Further relaxation of reliability is subject to serious question since these missiles will be flying over friendly territory.

In keeping with the above, there has been established separate development programs for the ICBM and the IRBM. The ICBM program is that already underway in the Air Force as discussed in the TCP Report and subject of the Council briefing on 28 July. The IRBM program will consist of a land-based development by the Air Force (IRBM #1) and a joint Army–Navy program (IRBM #2) having the dual objective of achieving an early ship-launched capability and also [Page 163] providing a land-based alternative to the Air Force program. The IRBM program has been established with a priority second only to that of the ICBM program under the Presidential directive.

In order to serve as the OSD management agency there has been established the OSD Ballistic Missiles Committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Secretary of Defense.7 This Committee will be the sole reviewing agency within OSD for all matters pertaining to the ICBM and IRBM programs including budget and apportionment requests, facilities, procurement and the composition of the technical programs. The ICBM Scientific Advisory Committee to the Secretary of the Air Force, modified as required, will also serve as the advisory committee to the OSD Ballistic Missiles Committee.

The Secretary of the Air Force has established an Air Force Ballistics Missiles Committee in his office to assist in the management of the ICBM and IRBM #1 programs. The Secretary of the Air Force has been authorized to approve the ICBM and IRBM #1 facility requirements, establish completion dates, delegate the agencies for construction which is able to meet the required objective and to approve the construction criteria and standards for construction. The organization of the Western Development Division which is the Executive Agency within the Air Force in carrying out the technical program was described in the 28 July 1955 briefing to the Council and remains unchanged.

The Joint Army–Navy program for the IRBM #2 will be directed by the Joint Army–Navy Ballistics Missiles Committee with the Secretary of the Navy as Chairman and the Secretary of the Army as Vice Chairman. Subject to the approval of the OSD Ballistics Missiles Committee, the Joint Army–Navy Committee has been authorized and directed to carry out all aspects of the IRBM #2 program employing methods reflecting maximum urgency. This Committee has also been delegated to approve IRBM #2 facilities.

The OSD Ballistics Missiles Committee, the Air Force Ballistics Missiles Committee and the joint Army–Navy Ballistics Missiles Committee have been organized and are currently functioning. No problems have been encountered in obtaining the assistance of other Executive Departments and agencies in the implementation of the Presidential directive.

C. ICBM Technical Program

The prosecution of the Air Force ICBM program continues to be marked by steady progress.

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Two contractors have been selected and contractual arrangements made for each major component of the missile system, such as the propulsion unit, the airframe, and the guidance and control units. Since July the major advance in this respect has been the selection of the Glenn L. Martin Company which will develop a two-stage configuration as the second airframe source.
Initial flight testing, designed to assist in nose cone design, has begun at the Air Force Missile Test Center (Banana River, Florida). Of a planned total of 36 X–17 re-entry test vehicles, three have been fired to date.
Prime contractor ICBM personnel total 8700 as of 15 November 1955.
Funding has been adequate for all purposes, but facility acquisition has not been so rapid as desired. The new streamlined management structure is expected to correct this deficiency.
A new development plan for the ICBM has been prepared to take advantage of the revised organization and the modified management controls and administrative procedures. This plan was devised with the objective of using it as an overall management and authorization document.
The program for attaining the earliest operational ICBM deterrent capability has been under intensive study, and planning of operational facilities and forces is underway.

D. IRBM Technical Program

In planning the IRBM program, the recommendations of the Technological Capabilities Panel, the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. technological capability in the ballistic missile field were considered. Five possible actions were proposed to meet the indicated need:

Use of second stage of the ICBM program.
A separate IRBM project based on available designs.
Support of the proposed United Kingdom IRBM development.
A separate ship-launched IRBM development.
Use of Triton.

There is general technical agreement that a land-based version of an IRBM can be developed earlier than a ship-launched version. However, the desirability of a ship-launched IRBM capability is so apparent that its strong consideration is believed to be warranted.

To meet existing military needs at the earliest possible date the Department of Defense has initiated an IRBM program having two separate objectives:

The development of a land-based IRBM (IRBM #1) by the Air Force at the earliest possible date. In the conduct of this program the Air Force will make use of any applicable components or techniques developed within the ICBM program. This approach was adopted after it was shown that a direct “fall out” missile from the ICBM program such as the use of the ICBM second stage is not technically feasible.
The initiation of a development program (IRBM #2) having the dual objective of achieving the earliest possible ship-launched capability and also providing a land-based alternate to the Air Force IRBM #1 program. The IRBM #2 program will be conducted jointly by the Army and Navy. Analysis of the Navy requirements indicate that a missile technically different from the planned Air Force approach will be required. However, in the development of a missile for ship-launching it is necessary to go through a land-launched phase thereby providing with a minimum of modification a land-based alternate to the Air Force IRBM #1 program. To assure achievement of the land-based as well as ship-launched IRBM capability equal priority has been assigned to the IRBM #1 and IRBM #2 programs. To minimize the potential interference to the ICBM program, maximum use will be made of contractors with experience in this field but not having major commitments within the ICBM program. Also, use will be made of the Redstone Arsenal team which has extensive experience in the design and firing of large ballistic rockets.

On the basis of current estimates of the technical state of the art it is believed that a surface ship-launching capability for an IRBM may be achieved appreciably earlier than a submarine launching capability. Accordingly the initial ship-launched version is planned for application to surface ships rather than submarines. Therefore development will continue of the submarine-launched ramjet propelled Triton missile.

United States interest and technical support of the United Kingdom ballistic missile program is continuing. Nevertheless, an operational missile cannot be expected from this program for several years after a U.S. capability has been achieved. Continued support of this program will strengthen appreciably the United Kingdom potential in this critical area and will provide additional highly skilled manpower in the support of our combined development objectives.

E. Funding

Funding estimated to be required to support the ICBM and IRBM programs is shown in the Financial Annex to this report. These estimates will be included in the report to the Council required by NSC Action No. 1430m8 on the funding required for items related to the Technological Capabilities Panel Report.

F. Recommendations

It is recommended that the National Security Council:

Note the substantial work done in implementation of NSC Actions No. 1433 and 1430c as indicated in the Department of Defense report; and note that the Department of Defense will report further on [Page 166] these programs as part of the Annual Status Report on Major Security Programs (30 June 1956) and as otherwise provided in NSC Action No. 1433.
Recommend that the President approve that the IRBM research and development program is a program of equal priority to the ICBM program, but with no interference to the valid requirements of the ICBM program.



Estimated Funds Required by Fiscal Year (millions)

1955 1956 1957
ICBM $ 156 $ 355 $ 582(1)
IRBM 89.0 269 (2)
Includes $30 millions for two U.S. launching bases to provide an emergency operational capability; does not include a possible additional $25 million which may be required primarily for range improvement purposes.
Does not include funding for advanced bases or ship modification that would be required to provide an operational capability.
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Sp. Asst. for Nat. Sec. Affairs Records, ICBM Programs. Top Secret. The source text is not dated, but it was submitted under cover of a memorandum from Lay to the National Security Council on November 30. Copies were sent to the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, the Special Assistant to the President on Disarmament, the Directors of the Bureau of the Budget and of Central Intelligence and the Chairmen of the Atomic Energy Commission and of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  2. See footnote 9, Document 34.
  3. See footnote 9, Document 30.
  4. See Document 25.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 33.
  6. See Document 34.
  7. Membership of the Committee includes appropriate Assistant Secretaries of Defense and an Assistant Director of the Bureau of the Budget. [Footnote in the source text.]
  8. See footnote 9, Document 30.