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Pershing ·Short Range Battlefield Support Missile System
The two-stage solid-propellant MGM31 Pershing I missile was first deployed in 1962, and the entire system
was carried on four XM474 tracked
vehicles. The first deployment to
Europe occurred in 1964 when the
missile served in the Quick Reaction
Alert role for the Central European
theatre of operations and as a general
nuclear delivery system for field
armies. The Pershing was grouped
into battalions comprising a headquarters battery, a service battery and four
firing batteries. The West German air
force also adopted the Pershing I, receiving a total of 72 launchers. Because
of the poor mobility characteristics of
the tracked vehicles, ·in 1966 a development contract was placed with
Martin-Marietta to irnprove the system
and the missile's capabilities.
In November 1967 production
started of the irnproved Pershing 1a to
replace the Pershing I in both the US
Anny and West German air force. The
first operational Pershing Ia was deployed in 1969. The most obvious irnprovement was the replacement of the
XM474 tracked vehicles by wheeled
vehicles derived from the M656 5-ton
truck chassis. This greatly enhanced
the system's mobility over paved roads
and across country. lt also allowed the
warhead to be carried with the missile
rather than on its own vehicle as had
been the case with the Pershing I. The
system's firing unit now consisted of an
articulated truck and trailer combinatio n that served as the erectorlauncher, a transporter for the programme tester and generator units, a
firing battery control centre vehicle
and a radio terminal set vehicle with an
inflatable aerial. A series of subsequent system improvements has
allowed the reaction time to be reduced still further, and the introduction
of an automatic reference system and
sequential launch adapter in 1976-7
allows the Pershing unit commander to
fire up to three missiles from a single
control station at previously unsurveyed launch sites. The current US
Anny inventory of Pershing systems is
164 launchers, of which 108 are in
Western Europe. The West Germans
replaced their Pershing I systems on a
one-for-one basis by the Pershing Ia.
In 1978 the advanced development
programme of the Pershing II system
was successfully completed. This missile, which has a range of more than
1490 km (925 miles), is a modlilar modemization of the Pershing Ia with a considerably enhanced accuracy and
range. The Pershing II is expected to
achieve an initial operational capability date of 1984 to replace the Pershing
Ia in Europe and then presumably in
the continental United States. The
European deployment is to irnprove
NATO's intermediate-range theatre
nuclear weapons stockpile and is a
direct response to the Russian deployment of the SS-20 IRBM system.
The Pershing II's terminal guidance
system utilizes an al!-weather radar
correlation unit in its ceramic nose
cone that compares the radar returns
with a pre-recorded onboard radar
profile of the target. This RADAG system allows CEP values of between 12
and 36 m (40 and 120 ft) tobe achieved.
In turn this allows the higher yield 60and 400-kiloton air-burst versions of
the W50 warhead ofthe Pershing Ja to
be replaced by the W85 200-kiloton
air-burst warhead and the W86 20-

Large and cumbersome, the US
Army Pershing nevertheless brought
a new Jevel ofrange ofup to 740 Jan
(460 miles) when it entered service in
1962. Pershing 1a, seen at Ja unch, is
soon tobe replaced by Pershing 11
which has super-accurate radar
guidance and thus does not need
such a high-yield warhead.

kiloton earth-penetrator warhead of
the Pershing II. Thus targets which
might have to be attacked by two or
three of the older missiles need only
one Pershing II, the earth penetrator
warhead being of particular irnportance as before detonation it can penetrate the overlying 30 m (1000 ft) or so
of soil and concrete that conceal Soviel
rear zone comrnand, control and communications facilities. The older Pershing Ja will stay in the West German
air force's inventory for some time to
come, the nuclear warheads for these
being held under a dual-key agreement.

MGM-31A Pershing Ia
Length: 10.6 m (34 ft 9% in)
Diameter: 1.0 m (3 ft 3V3 in)
Weight: 4600 kg (10,141 lb)
Warhead weight: about 748 kg (1,650
Warhead types: 60-kiloton nuclear,
400-kiloton nuclear and training
Minimum range: 161 km (100 miles)
Maximum range: 740 km (460 miles)
CEP: 365 m (400 yards)
Launch vehicle: wheeled M656 truck
and trailer combination
Propellant type/guidance: solid/





Re-entry vehicle
manoeuvred over target
area by onboard inertial
guidance unit

Terrain scannmg
radar activated
Image compared
with reference area
held in on board

Low yield ground _ _ _ _ _~
penetrating nuclear

terrain mapping radar

The r eplacemelJl al
Pershing 1with PershingH
has great militazy and
political signi[icance_ WdlJ
its maximum nmgeal
zsoo Jan (1,550 miJes). Ute
highly-accurate eartltpenetrator warhead as a
payload, themissiJecaa
destroy anything it is lired
hardened targets.Basedil
Germany, thenmgeal
targets indudes Ma;c:m,.