Titan II Missile

The Titan family of rockets were used between 1959 and 2003. There were two main categories of Titan rockets. Those used in a passive role by NASA for spaceflight and those used by the US Air Force as defense against Soviet aggression.

In this article, we will focus on the Titan missile used for defensive deterrent, which was in use from 1963 to 1987.

Titan II Missile
There were 54 Titan II Missiles located throughout the US (Public Domain)

The Titan II was a powerful two stage, 103 feet tall intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM),w with 170 tons when loaded with fuel. There were 54 missiles in all, strategically located in bomb proof silos across the central United States; specifically, Arkansas, Kansas, and Arizona.

These awesome machines were designed to launch in just 58 seconds, as time was of the essence in the event of a surprise attack. Each of these ICBMs were nuclear tipped with a 9-megaton nuclear warhead and were able to travel to targets over 6300 miles away within a time span of just 30 minutes.

The facility that contained and controlled the Titan II was about 90% underground, so only the top level was seen from the ground, giving the appearance that it was nothing more than a farm of small government office. Recall that all these missile facilities were top secret during the Cold War.

The Air Force had squadrons  – an array of missile sites within a designated location. For example, the 34th squadron contained nine missile sites within the Little Rock, Arkansas area.

Nine was not the exceptional number, as each Titan II squadron across the midwest consisted of nine launch facilities, each housing a single missile and each a distance of seven miles from the other. Each silo was directly connected to an underground launch control unit, manned by a round the clock combat crew of two officers and two airman. The Air Force deployed six squadrons of Titan II missiles facilities. To save money, the squadrons were grouped in pairs, controlled by one operational base.

As with the B-52s, these missile facilities were under the management of SAC and provided the additional deterrent to supplement the B-52 bombers.

Fortunately, these missiles never had to be used and after the Cold War ended, the facilities have been removed; however, there is one still standing, but not active. That is the Titan II Missile Museum near Tucson, Arizona.

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