MX Missile – US Air Force Staff Film Report

This 1980 film is an introduction to the MX (Missile Experimental) Missile/Peacekeeper for Air Force staff following its authorisation by the President. It’s important to note that the film is at a very early stage of MX development when many of the developments were proposed or suggested rather than being at a working stage.

The MX missile was fundamentally a system to keep the Air Force in the ICBM business after Soviet advances in targeting and accuracy made static missile silos increasingly vulnerable to attack – in fact the worry was a surprise attack from submarine launched ballistic missiles could potentially neutralised the greater part of this force.

MX was meant to solve that by being a survivable system where the enemy would never know which silo an MX missile was in and by constantly moving them around in mobile launchers to escape detection. At least in 1980 that was the theory and was later abandoned/supplemented by moving MX on a special railroad launcher to an underground railroad system of multiple silos and as a final irony they were actually stationed in former Minuteman silos, static and vulnerable to the very thing they were meant to avoid.

Like the Strategic Defence initiative, MX became too complex and too expensive to fully realise. In fact the more survivable MX became the more it began to resemble a nuclear war-fighting weapon rather than a deterrent. If MX represented an unacceptable level of damage to a potential aggressor then they were probably better off using all their weapons at once rather than risking them all in a reprisal by MX – the MX/Peacekeeper missile did carry 10 MIRV-ed warheads.

The entire MX programme was mired in difficulties, political, financial and practical and the last MX missile was deactivated in 2005. It is difficult to say should a nuclear crisis between East and West have ever come about with MX would have been a benefit or liability.


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