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The UGM-27 Polaris missile was a two-stage solid-fueled nuclear-armed
submarine-launched ballistic missile A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief period ...
(SLBM). As the
United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = "Anchors Aweigh" , mascot = , equipment = List of equipment of the United St ...
's first SLBM, it served from 1961 to 1980. In the mid-1950s the Navy was involved in the Jupiter missile project with the
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
, and had influenced the design by making it squat so it would fit in submarines. However, they had concerns about the use of
liquid fuel rocket A liquid-propellant rocket or liquid rocket utilizes a rocket engine A rocket engine uses stored rocket propellants as the reaction mass for forming a high-speed propulsive Jet (fluid), jet of fluid, usually high-temperature gas. Rocket engin ...
s on board ships, and some consideration was given to a
solid fuel Solid fuel refers to various forms of solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation ...
version, Jupiter S. In 1956, during an anti-submarine study known as
Project Nobska Project Nobska was a 1956 summer study on anti-submarine warfare Anti-submarine warfare (ASW, or in older form A/S) is a branch of underwater warfare Underwater warfare is one of the three operational areas of naval warfare Naval war ...
,
Edward Teller Edward Teller ( hu, Teller Ede; January 15, 1908 – September 9, 2003) was a Hungarian-American Hungarian Americans (Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''amerikai magyarok'') are United States, Americans of Hungarian people, Hungarian ...
suggested that very small
hydrogen bomb lenses2) Uranium-238 ("tamper") lined with beryllium reflector3) Vacuum ("levitated core")4) Tritium "boost" gas (blue) within plutonium or uranium hollow core 5) Radiation channel filled with polystyrene foam6) Uranium ("pusher/tamper")7) Lithium ...

hydrogen bomb
warheads were possible. A crash program to develop a missile suitable for carrying such warheads began as Polaris, launching its first shot less than four years later, in February 1960. As the Polaris missile was fired underwater from a moving platform, it was essentially invulnerable to counterattack. This led the Navy to suggest, starting around 1959, that they be given the entire
nuclear deterrent Nuclear strategy involves the development of military doctrine, doctrines and strategy, strategies for the production and use of nuclear weapons. As a sub-branch of military strategy, nuclear strategy attempts to match nuclear weapons as means ...
role. This led to new infighting between the Navy and the
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...
, the latter responding by developing the
counterforce In nuclear strategy, a counterforce target is one that has a military value, such as a launch silo for intercontinental ballistic missiles, an airbase at which nuclear-armed bombers are stationed, a homeport for ballistic missile submarines, or a ...
concept that argued for the
strategic bomber A strategic bomber is a medium- to long-range penetration bomber A bomber is a combat aircraft designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry (such as bombs), launching aerial torpedo, torpedoes, or deploying ...
and
ICBM An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a missile In military terminology, a missile is a guided airborne ranged weapon . English longbowmen figure prominently in the foreground at right where they drive away the French crossbow ...
as key elements in
flexible response Flexible response was a defense Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military) A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primar ...
. Polaris formed the backbone of the U.S. Navy's nuclear force aboard a number of custom-designed submarines. In 1963, the
Polaris Sales Agreement The Polaris Sales Agreement was a treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom which began the UK Polaris programme The United Kingdom's Polaris programme, officially named the British Naval Ballistic Missile System, provided its ...
led to the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
taking over the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
's nuclear role, and while some tests were carried out by the
Italian Navy "Fatherland and Honour" , patron = , colors = , colors_label = , march = ( is the return of soldiers to their barrack, or sailors to their ship after ...
, this did not lead to use. The Polaris missile was gradually replaced on 31 of the 41 original SSBNs in the U.S. Navy by the
MIRV missile, with the re-entry vehicles highlighted in red. MIRV bus. , operated exclusively by the US Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue a ...
-capable
Poseidon Poseidon (; grc-gre, Ποσειδῶν, ) was one of the Twelve Olympians upright=1.8, Fragment of a relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The ...
missile beginning in 1972. During the 1980s, these missiles were replaced on 12 of these submarines by the
Trident I The UGM-96 Trident I, or Trident C4, was an American submarine-launched ballistic missile A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warhe ...
missile. The 10 - and SSBNs retained Polaris A-3 until 1980 because their missile tubes were not large enough to accommodate Poseidon. With beginning sea trials in 1980, these submarines were disarmed and redesignated as
attack submarine An attack submarine or hunter-killer submarine is a submarine upright=1.35, Russian ''Akula''-class submarine of the Northern Fleet A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are ...
s to avoid exceeding the
SALT II The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) were two rounds of bilateralism, bilateral conferences and corresponding international treaties involving the United States and the Soviet Union. The Cold War superpowers dealt with arms control in two ...
strategic arms treaty limits. The Polaris missile program's complexity led to the development of new project management techniques, including the
Program Evaluation and Review Technique The program (or project) evaluation and review technique (PERT) is a statistical tool used in project management Project management is the process of leading the work of a team A team is a group of individuals (human or non-human) worki ...
(PERT) to replace the simpler
Gantt chart A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart A bar chart or bar graph is a chart or graph that presents categorical data In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presenta ...

Gantt chart
methodology.


History and development

The Polaris missile replaced an earlier plan to create a submarine-based missile force based on a derivative of the
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
Intermediate-range ballistic missile An intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) is a ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief periods ...
.
Chief of Naval Operations#REDIRECT Chief of Naval Operations The chief of naval operations (CNO) is the professional head of the United States Navy. The position is a statutory office () held by an admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, a ...
Admiral
Arleigh Burke Arleigh Albert Burke (October 19, 1901 – January 1, 1996) was an admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United St ...
appointed
Rear Admiral Rear admiral is a senior naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for wa ...
W. F. "Red" Raborn as head of a Special Project Office to develop Jupiter for the Navy in late 1955. The Jupiter missile's large diameter was a product of the need to keep the length short enough to fit in a reasonably-sized submarine. At the seminal
Project Nobska Project Nobska was a 1956 summer study on anti-submarine warfare Anti-submarine warfare (ASW, or in older form A/S) is a branch of underwater warfare Underwater warfare is one of the three operational areas of naval warfare Naval war ...
conference in 1956, with Admiral Burke present,
nuclear physicist Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies atomic nuclei and their constituents and interactions. Other forms of nuclear matter are also studied. Nuclear physics should not be confused with atomic physics, which studies the atom as a wh ...
Edward Teller Edward Teller ( hu, Teller Ede; January 15, 1908 – September 9, 2003) was a Hungarian-American Hungarian Americans (Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''amerikai magyarok'') are United States, Americans of Hungarian people, Hungarian ...
stated that a physically small one-megaton warhead could be produced for Polaris within a few years, and this prompted Burke to leave the Jupiter program and concentrate on Polaris in December of that year. Polaris was spearheaded by the Special Project Office's Missile Branch under Rear Admiral Roderick Osgood Middleton,Navy Office of Information biography on Roderick Osgood Middleton
/ref> and is still under the Special Project Office.
/ref> Admiral Burke later was instrumental in determining the size of the Polaris submarine force, suggesting that 40-45 submarines with 16 missiles each would be sufficient.
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 275
Eventually, the number of Polaris submarines was 41 for Freedom, fixed at 41. The was the first submarine capable of deploying U.S. developed
submarine-launched ballistic missile A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief period ...
s (SLBM). The responsibility of the development of SLBMs was given to the Navy and the Army. The Air Force was charged with developing a land-based intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), while an IRBM which could be launched by land or by sea was tasked to the Navy and Army. The Navy Special Projects (SP) office was at the head of the project. It was led by Rear Admiral
William Raborn William Francis Raborn, Jr., (June 8, 1905 – March 6, 1990) was the United States Director of Central Intelligence The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was the head of the American Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intel ...
. On September 13, 1955, James R. Killian, head of a special committee organized by President Eisenhower, recommended that both the Army and Navy come together under a program aimed at developing an
intermediate-range ballistic missile An intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) is a ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief periods ...
(IRBM). The missile, later known as Jupiter, would be developed under the Joint Army-Navy Ballistic Missile Committee approved by Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson in early November of that year. The first IRBM boasted a liquid-fueled design. Liquid fuel is compatible with aircraft; it is less compatible with submarines. Solid fuels, on the other hand, make logistics and storage simpler and are safer. Not only was the Jupiter a liquid fuel design, it was also very large; even after it was designed for solid fuel, it was still a whopping 160,000 pounds. A smaller, new design would weigh much less, estimated at 30,000 pounds. The Navy would rather develop a smaller, more easily manipulated design. Edward Teller was one of the scientists encouraging the progress of smaller rockets. He argued that the technology needed to be discovered, rather than apply technology that is already created. Raborn was also convinced he could develop smaller rockets. He sent officers to make independent estimates of size to determine the plausibility of a small missile; while none of the officers could agree on a size, their findings were encouraging nonetheless.


Project Nobska

The U.S. Navy began work on nuclear-powered submarines in 1946. They launched the first one, the in 1955. Nuclear powered submarines were the least vulnerable to a first strike from the Soviet Union. The next question that led to further development was what kind of arms the nuclear-powered submarines should be equipped with. In the summer of 1956, the navy sponsored a study by the National Academy of Sciences on anti-submarine warfare at Nobska Point in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, known as
Project NOBSKA Project Nobska was a 1956 summer study on anti-submarine warfare Anti-submarine warfare (ASW, or in older form A/S) is a branch of underwater warfare Underwater warfare is one of the three operational areas of naval warfare Naval war ...
. The navy's intention was to have a new missile developed that would be lighter than existing missiles and cover a range up to fifteen hundred miles. A problem that needed to be solved was that this design would not be able to carry the desired one-megaton thermonuclear warhead. This study brought
Edward Teller Edward Teller ( hu, Teller Ede; January 15, 1908 – September 9, 2003) was a Hungarian-American Hungarian Americans (Hungarian language, Hungarian: ''amerikai magyarok'') are United States, Americans of Hungarian people, Hungarian ...
from the recently formed nuclear weapons laboratory at Livermore and
J. Carson Mark Jordan Carson Mark (July 6, 1913 – March 2, 1997) was a Canadian-American mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topic ...
, representing the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory. Teller was already known as a nuclear salesman, but this became the first instance where there was a big betting battle where he outbid his Los Alamos counterpart. The two knew each other well: Mark was named head of the theoretical division of Los Alamos in 1947, a job that was originally offered for Teller. Mark was a cautious physicist and no match for Teller in a bidding war. At the NOBSKA summer study, Edward Teller made his famous contribution to the FBM program. Teller offered to develop a lightweight warhead of one-megaton strength within five years. He suggested that nuclear-armed torpedoes could be substituted for conventional ones to provide a new anti-submarine weapon. Livermore received the project. When Teller returned to Livermore, people were astonished by the boldness of Teller's promise. It seemed inconceivable with the current size of nuclear warheads, and Teller was challenged to support his assertion. He pointed out the trend in warhead technology, which indicated reduced weight to yield ratios in each succeeding generation.Graham Spinardi. Page 30. From Polaris to Trident: The Development of U.S. Fleet Ballistic Missile Technology When Teller was questioned about the application of this to the FBM program, he asked, ‘Why use a 1958 warhead in a 1965 weapon system?’ Mark disagreed with Teller's prediction that the desired one-megaton warhead could be made to fit the missile envelope within the timescale envisioned. Instead, Mark suggested that half a megaton would be more realistic and he quoted a higher price and a longer deadline. This simply confirmed the validity of Teller's prediction in the Navy's eyes. Whether the warhead was half or one megaton mattered little so long as it fitted the missile and would be ready by the deadline. Almost four decades later, Teller said, referring to Mark's performance, that it was “an occasion when I was happy about the other person being bashful.” When the Atomic Energy Commission backed up Teller's estimate in early September, Admiral Burke and the Navy Secretariat decided to support SPO in heavily pushing for the new missile, now named Polaris by Admiral Raborn. There is a contention that the Navy's "Jupiter" missile program was unrelated to the Army program. The Navy also expressed an interest in Jupiter as an SLBM, but left the collaboration to work on their Polaris. At first, the newly assembled SPO team had the problem of making the large, liquid-fuel Jupiter IRBM work properly. Jupiter retained the short, squat shape intended to fit in naval submarines. Its sheer size and volatility of its fuel made it very unsuited to submarine launching and was only slightly more attractive for deployment on ships. The missile continued to be developed by the Army's German team in collaboration with their main contractor, Chrysler Corporation. SPO's responsibility was to develop a sea-launching platform with necessary fire control and stabilization systems for that very purpose. The original schedule was to have a ship-based IRBM system ready for operation evaluation by January 1, 1960, and a submarine-based one by January 1, 1965. However, the Navy was deeply dissatisfied with the liquid fuel IRBM. The first concern was that the cryogenic liquid fuel was not only extremely dangerous to handle, but launch-preparations were also very time-consuming. Second, an argument was made that liquid-fueled rockets gave relatively low initial acceleration, which is disadvantageous in launching a missile from a moving platform in certain sea states. By mid-July 1956, the Secretary of Defense's Scientific Advisory Committee had recommended that a solid-propellant missile program be fully instigated but not using the unsuitable Jupiter payload and guidance system. By October 1956, a study group comprising key figures from Navy, industry and academic organizations considered various design parameters of the Polaris system and trade-offs between different sub-sections. The estimate that a 30,000-pound missile could deliver a suitable warhead over 1500 nautical miles was endorsed. With this optimistic assessment, the Navy now decided to scrap the Jupiter program altogether and sought out the Department of Defense to back a separate Navy missile. A huge surfaced submarine would carry four "Jupiter" missiles, which would be carried and launched horizontally. This was probably the never-built SSM-N-2 Triton program. However, a history of the Army's Jupiter program states that the Navy was involved in the Army program, but withdrew at an early stage. Originally, the Navy favored cruise missile systems in a strategic role, such as the
Regulus missile The SSM-N-8A Regulus or the Regulus I was a United States Navy-developed ship-and-submarine-launched, nuclear-capable turbojet-powered second generation cruise missile, deployed from 1955 to 1964. Its development was an outgrowth of U.S. Navy te ...

Regulus missile
deployed on the earlier and a few other submarines, but a major drawback of these early cruise missile launch systems (and the Jupiter proposals) was the need to surface, and remain surfaced for some time, to launch. Submarines were very vulnerable to attack during launch, and a fully or partially fueled missile on deck was a serious hazard. The difficulty of preparing a launch in rough weather was another major drawback for these designs, but rough sea conditions did not unduly affect Polaris' submerged launches. It quickly became apparent that solid-fueled ballistic missiles had advantages over cruise missiles in range and accuracy, and could be launched from a submerged submarine, improving submarine survivability. The prime contractor for all three versions of Polaris was
Lockheed Missiles and Space Company Lockheed Missiles and Space Company (LMSC) was a unit of the Lockheed Corporation "Missiles, Space, and Electronics Systems Group." LMSC was started by Willis Hawkins who served as its president. After Lockheed merged with Martin-Marietta the uni ...
(now
Lockheed Martin Lockheed Martin Corporation is an American aerospace Aerospace is a term used to collectively refer to the and . Aerospace activity is very diverse, with a multitude of commercial, industrial and military applications. consists of and . ...

Lockheed Martin
). The Polaris program started development in 1956. , the first U.S. missile submarine, successfully launched the first Polaris missile from a submerged submarine on July 20, 1960. The A-2 version of the Polaris missile was essentially an upgraded A-1, and it entered service in late 1961. It was fitted on a total of 13 submarines and served until June 1974. Ongoing problems with the , especially with its mechanical arming and safing equipment, led to large numbers of the missiles being recalled for modifications, and the U.S. Navy sought a replacement with either a larger yield or equivalent destructive power. The result was the W-58 warhead used in a "cluster" of three warheads for the Polaris A-3, the final model of the Polaris missile. One of the initial problems the Navy faced in creating an SLBM was that the sea moves, while a launch platform on land does not. Waves and swells rocking the boat or submarine, as well as possible flexing of the ship's hull, had to be taken into account to properly aim the missile. The Polaris development was kept on a tight schedule and the only influence that changed this was the USSR's launching of SPUTNIK on October 4, 1957. This caused many working on the project to want to accelerate development. The launch of a second Russian satellite and pressing public and government opinions caused Secretary Wilson to move the project along more quickly. The Navy favored an underwater launch of an IRBM, although the project began with an above-water launch goal. They decided to continue the development of an underwater launch, and developed two ideas for this launch: wet and dry. Dry launch meant encasing the missile in a shell that would peel away when the missile reached the water's surface. Wet launch meant shooting the missile through the water without a casing. While the Navy was in favor of a wet launch, they developed both methods as a failsafe. They did this with the development of gas and air propulsion of the missile out of the submerged tube as well. The first Polaris missile tests were given the names “AX-#” and later renamed “A1X-#”. Testing of the missiles occurred: Sept 24, 1958: AX-1, at Cape Canaveral from a launch pad; the missile was destroyed, after it failed to turn into the correct trajectory following a programming-error. October 1958: AX-2, at Cape Canaveral from a launch pad; exploded on the launch pad. December 30, 1958: AX-3, at Cape Canaveral from a launch pad; launched correctly, but was destroyed because of the fuel overheating. January 19, 1959: AX-4, at Cape Canaveral from launch pad: launched correctly but began to behave erratically and was destroyed. February 27, 1959: AX-5, at Cape Canaveral from launch pad: launched correctly but began to behave erratically and was destroyed. April 20, 1959: AX-6, at Cape Canaveral from launch pad: this test was a success. The missile launched, separated, and splashed into the Atlantic 300 miles off shore. It was in between these two tests that the inertial guidance system was developed and implemented for testing. July 1, 1959: AX-11 at Cape Canaveral from a launch pad: this launch was successful, but pieces of the missile detached causing failure. It did show that the new guidance systems worked.


Guidance

At the time that the Polaris project went live, submarine navigation systems were and at this time that standard was sufficient enough to sustain effective military efforts given the existing weapons systems in use by the Army, Air Force and Navy. Initially, developers of Polaris were set to utilize the existing 'Stable Platform' configuration of the inertial guidance system. Created at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, this Ships Inertial Navigation System (SINS) was supplied to the Navy in 1954. The developers of Polaris encountered many issues from the birth of the project, however, perhaps the most unsettling for them was the outdated technology of the gyroscopes they would be implementing. This 'Stable Platform' configuration did not account for the change in gravitational fields that the submarine would experience while it was in motion, nor did it account for the ever-altering position of the Earth. This problem raised many concerns, as this would make it nearly impossible for navigational read outs to remain accurate and reliable. A submarine equipped with Ballistic Missiles was of little to no use if operators had no way to direct them. Polaris was thus forced to seek elsewhere and quickly found hope in a guidance system that had been abandoned by the U.S. Air Force. The
Autonetics Autonetics was a division of North American Aviation that produced various avionics but is best known for their inertial navigation systems used in submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Its 188-acre facility in Anaheim, California ...
Division of North American Aviation had previously been faced with the task of developing a guidance system for the U.S. Air Force Navaho known as the XN6 Autonavigator. The XN6 was a system designed for air-breathing
Cruise missiles A cruise missile is a guided missile In military terminology, a missile is a guided airborne ranged weapon . English longbowmen figure prominently in the foreground at right where they drive away the French crossbow A crossbow is a r ...
, but by 1958 had proved useful for installment on submarines. A predecessor to the
GPS The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally Navstar GPS, is a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government) is the national ...
satellite navigation system, the Transit system (later called NAVSAT), was developed because the submarines needed to know their position at launch in order for the missiles to hit their targets. Two American physicists, William Guier and George Weiffenbach, at
Johns Hopkins Johns Hopkins (May 19, 1795 – December 24, 1873) was an American entrepreneur Entrepreneurship is the creation or extraction of value. With this definition, entrepreneurship is viewed as change, generally entailing risk beyond what is no ...

Johns Hopkins
's
Applied Physics Laboratory The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Applied Physics Laboratory, or APL) is a not-for-profit University Affiliated Research Center, university-affiliated research center (UARC) in Howard County, Maryland. It is affiliated wi ...
(APL), began this work in 1958. A computer small enough to fit through a submarine hatch was developed in 1958, the AN/UYK-1. It was used to interpret the Transit satellite data and send guidance information to the Polaris, which had its own guidance computer made with ultra miniaturized electronics, very advanced for its time, because there wasn't much room in a Polaris—there were 16 on each submarine. The Ship's
Inertial Navigation System An inertial navigation system (INS) is a navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another.Bowditch, 2003:799. The field of navigat ...
(SINS) was developed earlier to provide a continuous
dead reckoning In navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another.Bowditch, 2003:799. The field of navigation includes four general categories: ...
update of the submarine's position between position fixes via other methods, such as
LORAN LORAN, short for long range navigation, was a hyperbolic Hyperbolic is an adjective describing something that resembles or pertains to a hyperbola (a curve), to hyperbole (an overstatement or exaggeration), or to hyperbolic geometry. The follo ...
. This was especially important in the first few years of Polaris, because Transit was not operational until 1964. By 1965 microchips similar to the
Texas Instruments Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is an America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a ...
units made for the
Minuteman II The LGM-30 Minuteman is a U.S. land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in service with the Air Force Global Strike Command Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) is a List of Major Commands of the United States Air Force, Maj ...

Minuteman II
were being purchased by the Navy for the Polaris. The Minuteman guidance systems each required 2000 of these, so the Polaris guidance system may have used a similar number. To keep the price under control, the design was standardized and shared with
Westinghouse Electric Company Westinghouse Electric Company LLC is an American nuclear power Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reaction In nuclear physics Nuclear physics is the field of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Ele ...
and
RCA The RCA Corporation was a major American electronics company, which was founded as the Radio Corporation of America in 1919. It was initially a patent trust owned by General Electric General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinatio ...
. In 1962, the price for each Minuteman chip was $50. The price dropped to $2 in 1968.


Polaris A-3

This missile replaced the earlier A-1 and A-2 models in the
U.S. Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = " Anchors Aweigh" ...
, and also equipped the British Polaris force. The A-3 had a range extended to and a new weapon bay housing three Mk 2 re-entry vehicles (ReB or Re-Entry Body in U.S. Navy and British usage); and the new W-58 warhead of 200  kt yield. This arrangement was originally described as a "cluster warhead" but was replaced with the term Multiple Re-Entry Vehicle (MRV). The three warheads, also known as "bomblets", were spread out in a "shotgun" like pattern above a single target and were not independently targetable (such as a
MIRV missile, with the re-entry vehicles highlighted in red. MIRV bus. , operated exclusively by the US Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue a ...
missile is). The three warheads were stated to be equivalent in destructive power to a single one-megaton warhead due to their spread out pattern on the target. The first Polaris submarine outfitted with MRV A-3's was the in 1964. Later the Polaris A-3 missiles (but not the ReBs) were also given limited hardening to protect the missile electronics against
nuclear electromagnetic pulse A nuclear electromagnetic pulse (commonly abbreviated as nuclear EMP, or NEMP) is a burst of electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, it ...
effects while in the
boost phaseA ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief periods—most of the flight is unpowered. Short-range balli ...
. This was known as the A-3T ("Topsy") and was the final production model.


Polaris A-1

The initial test model of the Polaris was referred to as the AX series and made its maiden flight from Cape Canaveral on September 24, 1958. The missile failed to perform its pitch and roll maneuver and instead just flew straight up, however the flight was considered a partial success (at that time, "partial success" was used for any missile test that returned usable data). The next flight on October 15 failed spectacularly when the second stage ignited on the pad and took off by itself. Range Safety blew up the errant rocket while the first stage sat on the pad and burned. The third and fourth tests (December 30 and January 9) had problems due to overheating in the boattail section. This necessitated adding extra shielding and insulation to wiring and other components. When the final AX flight was conducted a year after the program began, 17 Polaris missiles had been flown of which five met all of their test objectives. The first operational version, the Polaris A-1, had a range of and a single Mk 1 re-entry vehicle, carrying a single W-47-Y1 600 kt nuclear warhead, with an
inertial guidance An inertial navigation system (INS) is a navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another.Bowditch, 2003:799. The field of navigat ...
system which provided a
circular error probable In the military science Military science is the study of military processes, institutions, and behavior, along with the study of warfare, and the theory and application of organized coercive force. It is mainly focused on Military theory, t ...
(CEP) of . The two-stage
solid propellant A propellant or propellent is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can ...
missile had a length of , a body diameter of , and a launch weight of . was the first fleet ballistic missile submarine (
SSBN A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physic ...
in U.S. naval terminology) and she and all other Polaris submarines carried 16 missiles. Forty more SSBNs were launched in 1960 to 1966. Work on its
W47 The W47 was an American thermonuclear warhead A thermonuclear weapon, fusion weapon or hydrogen bomb (H bomb) is a second-generation nuclear weapon design Nuclear weapon designs are physical, chemical, and engineering arrangements that cause ...

W47
nuclear warhead A nuclear weapon (also known as an atom bomb, atomic bomb, nuclear bomb or nuclear warhead, and colloquially as an A-bomb or nuke) is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from s, either (fission bomb) or a combination of f ...
began in 1957 at the facility that is now called the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federal research facility in Livermore, California Livermore (formerly Livermores, Livermore Ranch, and Nottingham) is a city in Alameda County, California, in the United States. With an e ...
by a team headed by John Foster and Harold Brown. The Navy accepted delivery of the first 16 warheads in July 1960. On May 6, 1962, a Polaris A-2 missile with a live W47 warhead was tested in the "Frigate Bird" test of
Operation Dominic Operation Dominic was a series of 31 nuclear test Nuclear weapons tests are experiments carried out to determine nuclear weapons' effectiveness, yield Yield may refer to: Measures of output/function Computer science * Yield (multithrea ...
by in the central
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific Ocean
, the only American test of a live strategic nuclear missile. The two stages were both steered by
thrust vectoring Thrust vectoring, also known as thrust vector control (TVC), is the ability of an aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support from the Atmosphere of Earth, air. It counters the force of gravity by usin ...
. Inertial navigation guided the missile to about a 900 m (3,000-foot) CEP, insufficient for use against hardened targets. They were mostly useful for attacking dispersed military surface targets (airfields or radar sites), clearing a pathway for heavy bombers, although in the general public perception Polaris was a strategic second-strike retaliatory weapon.


After Polaris

To meet the need for greater accuracy over the longer ranges the Lockheed designers included a reentry vehicle concept, improved guidance, fire control, and navigation systems to achieve their goals. To obtain the major gains in performance of the Polaris A3 in comparison to early models, there were many improvements, including propellants and material used in the construction of the burn chambers. The later versions (the A-2, A-3, and B-3) were larger, weighed more, and had longer ranges than the A-1. The range increase was most important: The A-2 range was , the A-3 , and the B-3 . The A-3 featured multiple re-entry vehicles ( MRVs) which spread the warheads about a common target, and the B-3 was to have
penetration aids 2,600 pages.


External links


Lockheed Martin Polaris Website


(Now known to be an outdated source with many inaccuracies.) * https://web.archive.org/web/20120314120957/http://www.mcis.soton.ac.uk/Site_Files/pdf/nuclear_history/glossary.pdf
University of Southampton , mottoeng = The Heights Yield to Endeavour , type = Public research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or T ...
, 2005.
Polaris launch at sea
{{DEFAULTSORT:Ugm-27 Polaris Lockheed Corporation Cold War submarine-launched ballistic missiles of the United States Submarine-launched ballistic missiles of the United States Nuclear missiles of the United States Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Articles containing video clips Military equipment introduced in the 1960s