Peacekeeper Rail Garrison

The Peacekeeper Rail Garrison was a railcar-launched ICBM that was developed by the United States Air Force during the 1980s as part of a plan to place fifty MGM-118A Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles on the rail network of the United States.[1] The railcars were intended, in case of increased threat of nuclear war, to be deployed onto the nation's rail network to avoid being destroyed by a first strike counterforce attack by the Soviet Union. However, the plan was canceled as part of defense cutbacks following the end of the Cold War, and the Peacekeeper missiles were installed in silo launchers as LGM-118s instead.

Peacekeeper Rail Garrison Car
In service1990–1991
ManufacturerRockwell International
Number built2
Number preserved1
Fleet numbersWECX 1001-1002
CapacityOne LGM-118A ICBM
OperatorsUnited States Air Force
Car body constructionSt. Louis Refrigerator Car Company
Car length87 ft (26.52 m)
Width10 ft 4 in (3.15 m)
Height15 ft 9 in (4.80 m)
Weight550,000 lb (250,000 kg) or
275 short tons (246 long tons; 249 t)
Bogies4 x 4-wheel
Coupling systemH Tightlock
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge

Development edit

Train pulling the Garrison car, which would be painted to resemble a standard rail car. (Missile hidden inside)

On December 19, 1986, the White House announced that U.S. President Ronald Reagan had given approval to a plan for the development of a railroad-based system for basing part of the planned LGM-118 Peacekeeper – originally referred to as MX for "Missile, Experimental" – intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force.[2]: 223[3] Intended to increase the survivability of the force in the event of a counterforce nuclear attack by the Soviet Union, the 50 train-based missile launchers, fitted two to each of twenty-five trains, would supplement a force of 50 silo-based missiles that would replace existing Minuteman missiles.[3][N 1]

Each train was planned to consist of two locomotives (appeared to be EMD GP40-2 in unclassified diagrams[4]), two cars for housing security forces (using a modified box car), two launchers each holding a single missile (using a modified box car), a launch control car (using a modified Westinghouse box car), a fuel car, and a maintenance car (using a modified box car).[3] Each launching car would carry one missile in a tube that, upon the receipt of an authenticated firing command, would elevate to fire the missile from the bed of the car. The launch cars were 87 feet (26.52 m) long, and when loaded with a missile weighed over 550,000 pounds (250,000 kg) or 275 short tons (246 long tons; 249 t).[3] A crew of 42 people—including the train commander, four launch control officers, four railroad engineers, one medic, six maintenance personnel, and 26 security police—could live in the launch control and security cars for up to one month.[5]

Following testing in 1989 at Hudson, CO, two ex-CSX locomotives, an EMD GP40-2 and an EMD GP38-2, were sent to Precision National in Mount Vernon, IL for modification to GP40-2DE (Dynamic braking, Extended range) with bulletproof glass in the cab windows. The trains were expected to be in service within about two years. Strategic Air Command wanted the first trains stationed at F. E. Warren Air Force Base near the Union Pacific mainline at Cheyenne, WY. The expected in-service date was December 1992. Rail Garrisons would resemble small freight yards with four spurs leading to slant-sided steel and earthen hardened shelters to house the trains.

Two hi-cube boxcars were constructed by St Louis Refrigerator Car Company. They were modified at Westinghouse, receiving bogie trucks, distributing their 550,000 pounds (250,000 kg) of weight over 8 axles. Low-slung beams were added to the underside to level the car against the track during launch. 80-foot (24.38 m) roof panels were designed to fall off when the missile was erected. The Air Force sought US$2.16 billion in fiscal year 1991 to purchase the first seven MX trains.

The deployment plan called for the trains to be permanently based in shelters that would be constructed on Strategic Air Command bases throughout the United States, with the missile crews on continuous alert.[3] Ten bases were in the running; Fairchild Air Force Base (Spokane, WA), Malmstrom Air Force Base (Great Falls, MT), Minot Air Force Base (Minot, ND), Grand Forks Air Force Base (Grand Forks, ND), Dyess Air Force Base (Abilene, TX), Whiteman Air Force Base, (Knob Noster, MO), Blytheville Air Force Base (Blytheville, AR), Little Rock Air Force Base (Little Rock, AR), Barksdale Air Force Base (Shreveport, LA), and Wurtsmith Air Force Base (Oscoda, MI). Upon the receipt of a signal indicating an increase in alert level, the trains would be "flushed", dispersing onto the American railroad network,[6]: 281  thus making it difficult for an enemy to determine where the missiles were at any given time to target them.[3]

Major contractors for the rail garrison system were Boeing Aerospace Corporation, Westinghouse Marine Division and Rockwell International Autonetics. The proposed main garrison for the weapons deployment system was to be F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, with each selected garrison hosting up to four trains.[7]

Testing and termination edit

End view of the prototype Rail Garrison Car

After several years of development, the prototype Rail Garrison Car was delivered to the U.S. Air Force on October 4, 1990. After undergoing initial evaluation at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the car was then sent to the Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, Colorado for further testing on the Association of American Railroads' test track.[8]

In 1991, with the end of the Cold War, the Peacekeeper rail garrison system was canceled.[3][9] As a result, all operational Peacekeeper missiles produced were installed in former Minuteman silos.[10] Following termination, the prototype rail garrison car was delivered to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1994 for public display.[3]

Rail Garrison Assets at Vandenberg AFB
Car Reporting Mark VAFB Arrival VAFB Departure Gaining Agency
Locomotive OM-1 TBCX 4900 28 Aug 1991 8 Jan 1992 U.S. Army, Ft Eustis, Virginia
Locomotive OM-2 TBCX 4901 28 Aug 1991 8 Jan 1992 U.S. Army, Ft Eustis, Virginia
Fuel Car EM-1 TBCX 90001 16 Apr 1991 ? USAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska
Fuel Car OM-1 TBCX 90002 21 Oct 1991 8 Jan 1992 U.S. Army, Ft Eustis, Virginia
Maintenance Car EM-1 TBCX 90050 16 Apr 1991 ? USAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska
Maintenance Car OM-1 TBCX 90051 21 Oct 1991 8 Jan 1992 U.S. Army, Ft Eustis, Virginia
Security Car EMS-1 DAFX 0004 16 Apr 1991 ? USAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska
Security Car EMS-2 DAFX 0003 16 Apr 1991 ? USAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska
Launch Control Car EMS-1 HTCX 402, DAFX 0002 16 Apr 1991 ? Federal Railroad Administration, Transportation Test Center
Launch Control Car ESM-2 RGX 100, DAFX 0001 13 Oct 1990 ? USAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska
Launch Control Car OM-2 DAFX 0006 29 Oct 1991 ? USAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska
Launch Control Car OM-4 HTCX 407, DAFX 0007 3 Jul 1991 ? Federal Railroad Administration, Transportation Test Center
Missile Launch Car EMS-1 WECX 1003 25 Nov 1991 ? Federal Railroad Administration, Transportation Test Center
Missile Launch Car EM-1 WECX 1002 21 Nov 1991 ? USAF Museum, Dayton Ohio
Missile Launch Car EM-2 WECX 1001 31 May 1990 ? Federal Railroad Administration, Transportation Test Center
Flat Car ? 16 Oct 1990 ? Federal Railroad Administration, Transportation Test Center
Security Car DAFX 0008 n/a n/a ?
Security Car DAFX 0009 n/a n/a ?

See also edit

References edit


  1. ^ Air launch and mobile dispersion in trenches were also considered as basing options for the MX missile.[2]: 67, 223


  1. ^ Parsch, Andreas (2006-12-17). "Martin Marietta LGM-118 Peacekeeper". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. Archived from the original on 2021-11-18. Retrieved 2022-07-01. After more test launches in the following years, the first few LGM-118A missiles became operational in modified Minuteman silos in December 1986. Peacekeeper deployment was complete in December 1988, when 50 LGM-118As were in silos.
  2. ^ a b Dornan, James E.; Van Cleave, William R. (1978). "The US Strategic Triad". In Bonds, Ray (ed.). The US War Machine: An illustrated encyclopedia of American military equipment and strategy (Second ed.). London: Salamander Books. pp. 58–67. ISBN 978-0517535431. LCCN 78009071. OCLC 468986308. OL 7690053M. Retrieved 1 July 2022 – via Internet Archive. p. 67: Of several options stuided, three have been considered by the USAF to show enough promise for further study and consideration: mobility within a buried trench, mobility among above-ground shelters, and containment in hardened capsules (perhaps to be covertly dispersed in fields of many more unhardened silos than there are missiles).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h   This article incorporates public domain material from Martin Marietta LGM-118A Peacekeeper. United States Air Force. Retrieved 2022-07-01.
  4. ^ "BALLISTIC MISSILES". 1997. Archived from the original on 27 August 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  5. ^ Vandenberg AFB 30th Space Wing History, 1992-1993, p. 136
  6. ^ Croddy, Eric A.; James J. Wirtz; Jeffrey A. Larsen, eds. (2005). Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Encyclopedia of Worldwide Policy, Technology and History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-85109-495-4. Retrieved 25 January 2011 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Peacekeeper Rail Garrison Program. Executive Summary". Department of the Air Force. June 1988. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Rockwell delivers first functional car for Peacekeeper Rail Garrison launch control system". PR Newswire. October 4, 1990. Retrieved 2010-12-07.[dead link]
  9. ^ Healy, Melissa (24 April 1990). "Air Force Offers to Cancel MX Missiles on Rail Cars". Los Angeles Times. Washington. eISSN 2165-1736. ISSN 0458-3035. LCCN 2011267049. OCLC 3638237. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2022. WASHINGTON — The Air Force, under pressure to reduce its budget, has proposed to cancel its plans to deploy MX missiles aboard rail cars and to slow development of Midgetman, a small single-warhead mobile missile, Pentagon sources said Monday. [...] Citing changes in the Soviet strategic threat as well as looming budget constraints, the Air Force's senior officials have urged Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to shift the weight of the nation's nuclear deterrent force instead to bombers and submarine-launched missiles, sources said.
  10. ^ Graham, William (22 April 2010). "First Minotaur IV launches with Hypersonic Test Vehicle". Archived from the original on 5 October 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2022. In 1983 the US Air Force decided to use existing silos intended for Minuteman missiles, and to develop the Midgetman missile to replace the mobile capacity.

Further reading

External links edit