8. Presentation on the U.S. Ballistic Missiles Program at the 353d NSC Meeting1

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I will present a progress report on the THOR, JUPITER, POLARIS, ATLAS, and TITAN ballistic missile programs for the calendar year 1957.

The over-all achievements during 1957 were good in spite of some failures and setbacks. The year’s progress gives us complete confidence [Typeset Page 21] in meeting future milestones at the accelerated pace which is now programmed.

During the year, ATLAS, THOR and JUPITER missiles were produced and underwent intensive captive and flight tests with gratifying results. In addition, significant events took place in the POLARIS development and test schedule.


Here you see the THOR program highlights for 1957. Among these were the first THOR launch, a maximum range demonstration of over 2400 nautical miles. This was a lightly loaded missile; a successful, all-inertial guidance flight resulting in an impact within the target area. In 1957 ten THOR missiles were launched, four were completely successful, three attained partial test objectives, and three were unsuccessful.


The JUPITER highlights are shown here. The outstanding point was the successful re-entry test flight of the scale model of the JUPITER–C heat protected nose cone and its recovery at sea. The flight tests demonstrating full range capability with missiles of greater weight than the tactical missiles; the inertial guidance system tests to target area; the full-scale nose cone flight test; the first 150,000 pound thrust engine and the XW–35 warhead [Facsimile Page 3] adaption kit tests. In 1957 seven JUPITER missiles were launched, three were completely successful and four were partially successful.


The development engineering inspection of THOR launch and ground support equipment took place at Douglas Aircraft Company in December 1957. This chart illustrates that ground support equipment comprises a large part of a ballistic missile system. In the foreground is a propellant servicing system and trailerized ground support equipment can be seen in the background. THOR ground support equipment is in production. The missile and ground support equipment is air transportable. Contracts for JUPITER ground support equipment and operational missiles have been established and the engineering design review completed.

Looking toward the deployment of the first squadrons of both THOR and JUPITER before the end of 1958, the Air Force has approved a deployment plan for the first IRBM squadron to the U.K. The JUPITER deployment plan must await detailed negotiations with NATO countries.

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This chart represents the host air base with a launch position of three THOR missiles. The host base also provides necessary buildings for maintenance of missiles and ground support equipment and other logistical support. The other three launch positions are dispersed to insure survivability. Plans to deploy the JUPITER missile are following a similar squadron configuration.

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The outstanding POLARIS development events of 1957are indicated on this chart. Among these are: the successful tests of thrust termination for large solid propellant motors; the establishment of the POLARIS weapon system parameters; a demonstration of the warhead design feasibility in which the re-entry body is part of the warhead envelope.


Successful tests of the gas eject method of launching the missile; the feasibility of achieving the required specific impulse in a large solid propellant motor of the size of POLARIS; excellent progress in developing precise navigation equipments and methods for POLARIS submarines; completion of the breadboard design of the missile guidance system and a successful test of the prototype first-stage POLARIS motor as well as a flight demonstration of the jetavator control system. As a result of the foregoing tests, it was decided that the POLARIS program could be accelerated. This was done in December 1957.

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The year 1957 also saw many significant achievements in the ATLAS program. Three launches took place, of which, one was completely successful and two partially so. Subsequently, in January 1958, a fourth [Facsimile Page 5] ATLAS flight test was successfully accomplished. Cooke AFB was obtained as the first ATLAS operational site in addition to being a THOR and TITAN training base. Warren AFB at Cheyenne, Wyoming, was selected as the second ATLAS operational site. Approval was obtained to conduct confidence firings for operational crews from Cooke AFB and construction of ATLAS launch sites is well under way.


The basic building block of the ATLAS force is the squadron. The basic squadron is composed of six horizontal readiness launchers; two block-houses or launch control centers; two guidance stations composed of six doppler radars, two track radars, and the guidance building. A squadron maintenance area is located about one mile behind the [Typeset Page 23] guidance building. The redundant guidance stations can control either of the two launch complexes. In the lower left is a typical horizontal launcher with the missile in place and the environmental cover partially withdrawn. In this position, the missile is in a readiness state of something greater than 15 minutes but less than two hours. In the lower right, the missile is shown in the erected position ready for launch. This represents a readiness state of something in the order of 15 minutes.


TITAN. The Martin factory at Denver was completed on schedule. A design engineering inspection of the complete TITAN missile was held in March. This was the first time the using agencies were able to thoroughly [Facsimile Page 6] examine a TITAN configuration. Design criteria were established for the TITAN operational hard base. The Aerojet General Corporation delivered the first TITAN production engine to Martin. The first complete radio inertial guidance system was delivered in the spring.


This is the squadron configuration of the TITAN hard base. The missile will be stored in a hardened site designed to withstand 100 psi over-pressure. The silo-type launch facilities are grouped around a central launch control facility resulting in a very compact unit.

As we near our initial operational dates, the areas of logistics and operational training assume greater priority and importance. In this respect the Air Force’s Air Materiel Command established a ballistic missile logistics system designed to react instantly to resupply. This has been accomplished through an electronic data processing system for the control of spare parts for the land-based ballistic missile program.

Another significant event occurred at the close of 1957 when the Strategic Air Command assumed responsibility for the initial operational capability for Air Force ballistic missiles. This is the step that had been planned from the beginning and comes at a time when maximum benefit can be realized by the operational command. The added strength of the Strategic Air Command to the program will accelerate planning, training, and strategic-operational capabilities.

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Now, Mr. President, I would like to present the current plans for the build-up of our ballistic missile forces. The first in the series is the land-based 1500 mile IRBM’s bearing a 1500 pound thermonuclear warhead in the excess of 1 megaton yield. These missiles have been designed against conservative operational characteristics and performance criteria in order to insure their earliest possible deployment and [Typeset Page 24] deterrent exploitation. On this chart, the IRBM IOC force build-up is shown under current directives. As you are aware, the recent decision to produce both the THOR and JUPITER ballistic missiles has resulted in doubling the effective operational force expectancy and prior operational dates have also been stepped up. The combined THOR–JUPITER operational inventory will total 120 missiles at the end of the initial operational capability force build-up overseas. These missiles have been designed with particular emphasis in their ground support equipment given to movability from one site location to another and dispersibility from a common support base of operations. Although somewhat different development approaches have been used by the Air Force on the THOR and by the Army on the JUPITER resulting in the development program as shown, it should be particularly noted that both missiles bear the same squadron operational dates overseas. The annual production schedule to attain this force build-up is shown along the bottom line of the chart. The total 272 missile production figure shown accounts for all missiles incurred to cover test flights, training, and exercise firings to support the operational inventory.

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This chart shows the ATLAS IOC force build-up. In addition to the two Cooke AFB training complexes, which have inherent operational capabilities, the newly directed ATLAS program will have four soft squadrons by mid-1961. In addition, consideration to four additional hard base squadrons are planned to be completed by early 1963. The research and development part of the program remains unchanged since it is progressing as rapidly as possible.


The TITAN IOC force build-up is shown here. Significant scheduled development milestones during 1958 will be captive firing of the missile at Martin, Denver, in April 1958, and the first flight of the TITAN from Patrick in September 1958. There is every indication that these dates will be met. Selection of the first TITAN operational site near Denver, Colorado, was approved during January 1958 by the Air Force Ballistic Missile Committee. Plans are moving ahead to start construction in May 1959. The first operational TITAN squadron is scheduled for activation in July 1961 with 3 more squadrons to be completed in July 1962.


POLARIS. Significant scheduled development milestones are: the first fully guided flight in October 1959, the delivery of the first POLARIS nuclear powered submarine in October 1960 complete with [Typeset Page 25] its missiles, and the delivery of two additional submarines by July 1961. It is expected that these dates will be met.

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The Air Force ballistic missile program alone is sizable in the number of people engaged in the military-industry team effort. Illustrated are some 55,000 industrial and military personnel working in the program. Although there will be a leveling off and a gradual decrease in the number of industrial personnel in these programs, it can be readily seen that the decrease will be off-set as military personnel build-up increases in the operational units.


This chart summarizes the large ballistic missile funding picture. The column on the left contains the amounts originally approved in 1958 for our five missiles. The next column shows the supplemental 1958 funding. The increase in the amount for THOR includes common ground support items for both JUPITER and THOR. The third column shows the total amount of augmentation these five programs require this fiscal year and includes money reprogrammed by the Services. Total 1958 funding requirements amount to $2223.1 millions.

The FY 1959 funding is indicated in two columns. The first shows what was originally planned. Supplemental amounts considered necessary are as indicated in the last column. The FY 1959 program for these five missile systems as we see it now calls for obligational authority of $2023.9 millions.

In summary and conclusion, Mr. President, our ballistic missile programs are going well. Our present operational objectives, which we feel [Facsimile Page 10] confident of meeting, are as follows:

Two IRBM squadrons to be operationally deployed by December 1958 with six more to follow by March 1960.
The first ATLAS squadron to be operational at Cooke AFB, California, by June 1959 and four more squadrons to be operational at other bases by June 1961. A total of nine squadrons are now programmed for operational use in early 1963.
The first TITAN squadron should be operational by July 1961 and three others will come into being by July 1962. All TITAN units are to be deployed on a hardened basis.
Three POLARIS FBM submarines will be operational by July 1961.

At the present time, we foresee no technical, operational, logistic or training problems during 1958 which will prevent us from meeting this schedule.

  1. Source: Secret. 10 pp. Eisenhower Library, Whitman File.