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Pershing 1a Missile (1977)

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Published on Oct 1, 2007

*** THIS FILM WAS MADE MY THE US GOVERNMENT AND IS PUBLIC DOMAIN ***

Pershing was a family of solid-fueled two-stage medium-range ballistic missiles designed and built by Martin Marietta to replace the Redstone missile as the United States Army's primary theater-level weapon. It was named for General John J. Pershing. The systems were managed by the US Army Missile Command (MICOM) and deployed by the United States Army Field Artillery Corps.

Pershing Ia

In 1964, a series of operational tests and follow-on tests were performed to determine the reliability of the Pershing 1. The Secretary of Defense then requested that the Army define the modifications required to make Pershing suitable for the quick reaction alert (QRA) role. The Pershing 1A development program was approved in 1965, and the original Pershing was renamed to Pershing I. Martin Marietta received the Pershing 1A production contract in mid-1967. The 2nd Battalion, 44th Field Artillery received equipment at Fort Sill in 1969. Project SWAP replaced all of the Pershing equipment in Germany by mid-1970 and the first units quickly achieved QRA status.

Pershing 1A was a 'quick reaction alert' system and so had faster vehicles, launch times and newer electronics. The total number of launchers was increased from eight to 36 per battalion. It was deployed from May 1969 and by 1970 almost all the Pershing I systems had been upgraded to Pershing Ia under Project SWAP. Production of the Pershing Ia ended in 1975 and reopened in 1977 to replace missiles expended in training. In the mid-1970s the Pershing 1A system was further improved to allow the firing of a platoon's three missiles in quick succession and from any site without the need for surveying. 754 Pershing I/Ia missiles were built with 180 deployed in Europe.[8]

The battalions in Europe were reorganized under new tables of organization and equipment (TOE); an infantry battalion was authorized and formed to provide additional security for the system; and, the 56th Artillery Group was reorganized and redesignated the 56th Field Artillery Brigade. Due to the nature of the weapon system, officer positions were increased by one grade: batteries were commanded by a major instead of a captain; battalions were commanded by a colonel and the brigade was commanded by a brigadier general.

The erector launcher (EL) was a modified low-boy flat-bed trailer towed by a Ford M757 5-ton tractor. The erection booms used a 3,000 psi pneumatic over hydraulic system that could erect the 5 ton missile from horizontal to vertical in nine seconds. The PTS and PS were mounted on a Ford M656 tractor. Launch activation was performed from a remote fire box that could be deployed locally or mounted in the battery control central (BCC). One PTS controlled three launchers-- when one launch count was complete, ten large cables were moved to the next launcher.

A repackaging effort of the missile and power station was completed in 1974 to provide easier access to missile components, reduce maintenance, and improve reliability. A new digital guidance and control computer combined the functions of the analog control computer and the analog guidance computer into one package. The mean corrective maintenance time was decreased from 8.7 hours to a requirement of 3.8 hours. The reliability inceased from 32 hours mean time between failures to a requirement of 65 hours. In 1976, the sequential launch adapter (SLA) and the automatic reference system (ARS) were introduced. The SLA was an automatic switching device mounted in a 10 trailer that allowed the PTS to remain connected to all three launchers. This allowed all three launchers to remain "hot" and greatly decreasing the time between launches. The ARS eliminated the theodolites previously used to lay and orient the missile. It included a north seeking gyro and a laser link to the ST-120 in the missile. Once the ARS was set up, a cold missile could be oriented in a much shorter time.

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