MX Peacekeeper ICBM
The MX or Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) was the last type of ICBM deployed by the U.S. Air Force. Several innovations made the Peacekeeper one of the most lethal nuclear weapons in history.
The use of a Kevlar epoxy composite made the Peacekeeper's airframe much lighter then previous ICBM's, allowing it to hold ten warheads. The Peacekeeper was also the only ICBM to use a cold launch technique. This meant the missile was literally blown out of the silo using steam pressure, then its first stage rocket would ignite on the surface for lift off. (This technique is also used for Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles).
The Peacekeeper weighed 192,300 pounds, about two and a half times a Minuteman. Much of this weight could help to carry ten 300 kilton warheads to targets up to 6,800 miles ways.
Great consideration was given to a rail based deployment for the missile in early debates. Finally, 50 Peacekeepers were placed in modified Minuteman III silos across southeastern Wyoming from 1987-2005.
Note: The missile is now referred to as the Peacekeeper. While under development it was first called Missile-X or MX. This name was most commonly used by the media and during debates before its eventual deployment.
Did You Know?
South Dakota’s Minuteman Missile field covered 13,500 square miles. That area is larger then the state of Maryland.