U.S. Surface-to-Air Missiles

Designation-Systems.Net Article on MIM-3 Nike-Ajax by Andreas Parsch
Designation-Systems.Net Article on CIM-10 BOMARC by Andreas Parsch
Designation-Systems.Net Article on MIM-14 Nike-Hercules by Andreas Parsch
Designation-Systems.Net Article on MIM-23 Hawk by Andreas Parsch
Designation-Systems.Net Article on MIM-104 Patriot by Andreas Parsch
Janes' Strategic Weapons Systems 48 (2008)
Characteristics of Tactical, Strategic, and Research Missiles, 22 April 1957 (4.47 MB)

MIM-3A Nike-Ajax (Guided Missile, Anti-Aircraft M1 / SAM-A-7)

Start of Service: 1954

Missile Length: 252”
Missile Diameter: 13.5”
Missile Finspan: 12”
Missile Weight: 1,125 lbs
Missile Motor: Liquid Fueled Rocket (2,600 lbf)

Booster Length: 166”
Booster Diameter: 16.5”
Booster Finspan: 63”
Booster Weight: 2,325 lbs
Booster Motor: M5 Solid Rocket Motor

Total Missile Length: 418”
Total Missile Weight: 3,450 lbs

Maximum Speed: Mach 2.0
Manouvering Capability (40,000 ft): 5 G
Manouvering Capability (60,000 ft): 2.5 G
Maximum Altitude: 60,000 ft
Maximum Range: 25 nautical miles
Warheads: 12 lb + 179 lb + 122 lb HE-Fragmentation

MIM-14A Nike-Hercules (Guided Missile, Air Defense M6 / SAM-A-25 Nike B)

Start of Service: 1958

MIM-14B Improved Hercules (Guided Missile, Air Defense M6A1)

Start of Service: June 1961

Missile Length: 322”
Missile Diameter: 21”
Missile Weight: 5,530 lbs
Missile Motor: Thiokol M30

Booster Length: 171”
Booster Diameter: 31.5”
Booster Weight: 5,180 lbs
Booster Motor: Hercules M42

Total Missile Length: 493”
Total Missile Weight: 10,710 lbs

Maximum Speed: Mach 3.65
Minimum Altitude: 3,280 ft
Maximum Altitude: 100,000 ft
Maximum Range (SAM): 83.7 nautical miles
Maximum Range (SSM): 98.3 nautical miles
Warhead: M17 HE-Frag or W31 (2 or 40 kiloton) warheads.

Notes: Had viable ATBM (Anti-Tactical Ballistic Missile) and SSM (Surface-to-Surface) capabilities.

MIM-14C Nike-Hercules

Start of Service: 1972


Length: 561”
Height: 123”
Diameter: 35”
Wingspan: 218”
Launch Weight: ~16,000 lbs
Booster: 35,000 lbf
Ramjets: 1,350 lbf each
Cruise Fuel: 80-octane aviation gasoline
Ceiling: 60,000+ ft
Range: 250~ miles


Length: 557”
Height: 123”
Diameter: 35”
Wingspan: 218”
Launch Weight: ~16,000 lbs
Booster: 50,000 lbf
Ramjets: 1,250 lbf each
Cruise Fuel: JP-4
Ceiling: 70,000+ ft
Range:400~ miles

MIM-23A HAWK (M3 / SAM-A-18)

Start of Service (US Army): August 1960
Start of Service (US Marine Corps): 1960

Missile Length: 200”
Missile Diameter: 37”
Missile Finspan: 47”
Missile Weight: 1,290 lbs
Missile Motor: Aerojet M22E8 Dual Thrust Solid Rocket
Warhead: 119 lb HE-Fragmentation

Minimum Range: 2 km
Maximum Range: 25 km
Minimum Altitude: 200 ft (60 meters)
Maximum Altitude: 11,000 m

MIM-23B Improved HAWK (I-HAWK)

Start of Service: 1971

Missile Length: 198”
Missile Diameter: 37”
Missile Finspan: 47”
Missile Weight: 1,400 lbs
Missile Motor: Aerojet Mk 112
Warhead: 163 lb HE-Fragmentation

Minimum Range (Low Altitude Target): 2.5 km
Maximum Range (Low Altitude Target): 20 km

Minimum Range (High Altitude Target): 1.5 km
Maximum Range (High Altitude Target): 40 km

Minimum Altitude: 200 ft (60 meters)
Maximum Altitude: 18,000 m

Notes: By 1978, all US HAWK units had this missile.

MIM-23C Improved HAWK (I-HAWK)

Start of Service: 1982

MIM-23D Improved HAWK (I-HAWK)

MIM-23E Improved HAWK (I-HAWK)

Start of Service: 1990

MIM-23F Improved HAWK (I-HAWK)

Start of Service: 1990

MIM-23G Improved HAWK (I-HAWK)

MIM-23H Improved HAWK (I-HAWK)

MIM-23J Enhanced Lethality HAWK (EL-HAWK)

MIM-23K Enhanced Lethality HAWK (EL-HAWK)

Start of Service: 1995

MIM-104A Patriot

Start of Service: 1984

Notes: Warhead fragments weigh 2 g.

MIM-104B Patriot SOJC

Notes: Adds surface-to-surface capability against ground based radar jammers. The missile flies a lofted trajectory towards the jammer and selects the strongest jammer to kill. Retains same AAW capability as MIM-104A.

MIM-104A/B Patriot PAC-1

Start of Service: July 1988

Notes: Provided an interim ATBM capability, via software changes to radar search/track algorithms and hardware changes to allow the phased array radar to elevate to nearly 90° (previously it was 45°). The missile was unchanged. First test was in September 1986 against a MGM-52 Lance target.

MIM-104C Patriot PAC-2

Start of Service: Late 1990

Notes: Purpose-built ATBM missile. Further software changes were made in the PATRIOT complex, and a new blast/fragmentation warhead with much larger fragments (45 g vs the old one's 2 g); in addition to a new Fuze designed for high velocity closing targets such as missiles. First test was in November 1987 against another PATRIOT missile.

MIM-104D Patriot PAC-2/GEM

Start of Service: 1995

Notes: Improved MIM-104C with better seeker and fuze for better performance against low-RCS targets, or those with extremely high closing rates (ballistic missiles).

MIM-104E Patriot PAC-2/GEM+

Start of Service: November 2002

Notes: Improved MIM-104D with a new seeker and fuze for even better performance against low-RCS targets or high closing rate targets (ballistic missiles). Older components dating from the 1980s were replaced with modern ones to improve reliability. Saw combat in the opening phases of the 2003 Iraq War.

Weapon Components

Hercules M42 Solid Rocket Motor Cluster

Thrust: 220,000 lbf

Notes: Used on Nike-Hercules Booster. Actually a cluster of four M5 Nike-Ajax Boosters.

Thiokol M30 Solid Rocket Motor

Thrust: 10,000 lbf

Notes: Used on Nike-Hercules.

Allegheny Ballistics Lab M5 Solid Rocket Motor

Length: 135”
Diameter: 16.5”
Propellant: 795 lbs of propellant
Total Weight: 1,165 lbs
Thrust: 49,000 lbs for 3 seconds (147,500 lb-sec)
ISP: 197.9

Notes: Used on Nike-Ajax.

Aerojet M22E8 Dual-Thrust Motor

Notes: Used on MIM-23A Hawk.

Aerojet Mk 112 Dual-Thrust Motor

Length: 2.78m
Diameter: 0.356
Propellant: 650 lbs (295 kg) of C-1 Polyurethane
Total Weight: 870 lbs (395 kg)

Notes: Used in MIM-23B I-HAWK.

Thiokol TX-486 Single-Thrust Motor

Length: 3.2m
Diameter: 0.41m
Propellant: 1,115 lbs (506 kg) of HTPB-AP, with an ISP of 258.
Thrust: 24,052 lbf (10,910 kgf) for 12 seconds
Weight: 1,400 lbs (635 kg)

Notes: Used in MIM-104 Patriot. Later missiles have upgraded HTPB-AP propellant for greater thrust.