V-2 to MX
V-2 to MX
The history of the ICBM begins with the German V-2 rocket, about 5,000 of which were launched during World War II between September 6, 1944 and March 27, 1945 mainly against targets in England and continental Europe at ranges of up to 320 km (199 mi). The United States showed little interest in ICBMs until 1954, building winged cruise missiles instead. The Atlas, the United States' original ICBM, was tested over an intercontinental range in November 1958. The original Soviet ICBM was the SS-6, first tested in August 1957, which became famous throughout the world on October 4, 1957, when one put Sputnik 1 into orbit. China, the third country to develop ICBMs, first made a full-range flight test of one in May 1980.
ICBMs are currently deployed by the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China. The first US Atlas ICBM was deployed in 1959, followed by the Minuteman I ICBM in 1962, the Titan in 1963, the Minuteman II in 1965, the Minuteman III in 1970, and the MX in 1986.
The Titan ICBM carried a huge warhead with an explosive power of 9 megatons (MT) equivalent to that of 9 million tonnes of TNT, or the equivalent of 750 Hiroshima atomic bombs. The Minuteman I and Minuteman II carried warheads of about 1 MT. Minuteman III ICBMs deployed after 1979 carry warheads of 335 Kilotons (KT) (equivalent to 335,000 tonnes of TNT). Each MX warhead has an explosive power of 300 KT. The United States began deploying MIRVs, on Minuteman III ICBMs, in 1980, each missile carrying three MIRVed warheads. Each MX ICBM carries ten MIRVs.