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MIM-14 Nike Hercules

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Published on Aug 16, 2008

Nike-Hercules Missile, designation MIM-14 (initially SAM-N-25), was a solid fuel propelled surface-to-air missile, used by US and NATO armed forces for high- and medium-altitude air defense. It could also be employed in a surface-to-surface role. The Nike-Hercules system, a follow-up to the Nike-Ajax missile, was developed during the Cold War to destroy enemy bombers and enemy bomber formations, as well as serve as an anti-ballistic missile system. Western Electric, Bell Laboratories, and Douglas Aircraft Company were chief contractors for the system. Nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles were deployed in Greece, Italy, and Turkey, and with Belgian, Dutch, German, and U.S. forces in West Germany.Conventionally-armed Nike Hercules missiles also served in Denmark, Japan, Norway, and Taiwan. The first deployments in Europe began in 1959 and the last nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles in Europe were deactivated in 1988. The Nike-Hercules missile systems sold to Japan (Nike J) were subsequently upgraded the internal guidance systems by replacing the original vacuum tube systems with transistorized ones.

The Nike Hercules could carry either a nuclear warhead or a conventional high explosive warhead (T-45 fragmentation type). Initially the nuclear-armed version carried the W-7 Mod 2E nuclear warhead, with yields of 2.5 or 28 KT. Beginning in FY 1961 the older warheads were replaced by W-31 Mod 0 warheads, with yields of 2 KT (Y1) or 30 KT (Y2). The last versions carried the W31 Mod 2 warhead, with yields of 2 or 20 KT. The missile was 41 feet 6 inches (12.6 m) long with a wingspan of 6 feet 2 inches (1.9 m). 145 missile batteries were deployed during the cold war. The missile had a range of about 77 miles (110 km). Because of the missile's effectiveness against certain ICBMs, it was made a part of the SALT I treaty.

The US Army continued to use Nike-Hercules as a front-line air defense weapon in Europe until 1983, when Patriot missile batteries were deployed. NATO units from West Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Greece and Turkey continued to use the Nike-Hercules for high-altitude air defense until the late 1980s. With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the units were deactivated.

The Patriot missile replaced the Nike-Hercules Missile in the high- and medium-altitude air defense roles. Its advantage over the Nike-Hercules system was its mobility. While a Nike-Hercules site could take days to be established, Patriot sites can be established in hours. Patriot also uses a more advanced phased-array radar system and has better missile target tracking.

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