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MAY 28 1958


SUBJECT: Minuteman Warhead and Re-Entry Vehicles

1. Since it's initiation it has been our intention to provide two re-entry vehicles and two warheads in [ILLEGIBLE] the requirements of the Minuteman system. These are differentiated as follows:

a. One vehicle with a total weight of 7xx pounds including a 600 pound warhead for a range of 5,500 n.m. The other vehicle weighing 550 pounds including a 330 pound warhead [ILLEGIBLE] of a range up to 8,500 n.m.'s. As we understand the operational plan, the system will insure complete target coverage [ILLEGIBLE] from bases located in the southwest portion of the Country. Design of these vehicles will be optimized for maximum range without regard to possible employment at less range than this and is the basis for the difference between the heavier vehicle weight in combination with the smaller warhead. During discussions in your office about the [ILLEGIBLE] of March, we were authorized to proceed on the basis in the establishment of warhead requirements and plans for re-entry vehicle [ILLEGIBLE] selection.

2. Both the Phase I and II warhead feasibility studies have been completed. These have included considerations of the two different [ILLEGIBLE ILLEGIBLE] warheads. [ILLEGIBLE ILLEGIBLE ILLEGIBLE ] authorized by DOD [ILLEGIBLE ILLEGIBLE ILLEGIBLE ILLEGIBLE ILLEGIBLE ] to the AEC. The request for Phase III development of both warheads is now waiting your signature. RFP’s have been lessed to a total of 1x contractors to cover the re-entry vehicle development program. These contractors are being asked to submit proposals covering either or both of the re-entry vehicles with the additional provision that their proposal shall be in such form that it would provide the basis for a contract for either or both.

3. There are several reasons which in our opinion make it imperative that we continue with the development of both vehicles. These relate principally to the warhead development itself. At the present time this Country is seriously considering a moratorium on testing, the duration of this being somewhat indeterminate. For this reason, the AEC laboratories are endeavoring to carry out during Hardtack all tests which appear to them of importance in development of weapons for which requirements have been stated. At the same time the AEC is attempting to get acceptance by DOD of the concept of multi-use warheads. Under this concept which has been given favorable reception, a weapon system requiring a warhead of particular weight will be forced to use an already available or planned weapon which in some instances will have been developed for quite different requirements. In our case for example, the smaller warhead will be that now under development for Nike Zeus. Provided the Minuteman requirements are incorporated in the weapon design initially, which can be done if we establish our need for this weapon, there will be no difficulty in obtaining maximum performance of the system (the same is not true in the case of the 600 pound Polaris warhead which must be modified to a considerable degree to meet the Minuteman requirements.) If on the other hand we do not today establish a firm requirement for the second, lighter warhead it will be designed on the basis of Nike Zeus requirements and will be completely incompatible with the Minuteman system in the event that we choose to use the second re-entry vehicle at some later date.

4. We feel emphatically that development must continue now on both warheads and hence both re-entry vehicles since a requirement for one can be not be established without the other. Until recently we had assumed that this was consistent with the requirements of WS-133A. It is our understanding however [I L L E G I B L E] is under discussion now in the interest of reducing the budget a plan to delay one of the re-entry vehicles by some period such as two years. Since our primary responsibility is to support the system requirements we request immediate clarification of this.

Colonel, USAF
Assistant Deputy Commander,
Space Systems