Titan II Mission and Capabilities
The Titan II weapon system fits into the same category as the B-36 bomber, which was never used in an armed conflict but did fulfill its mission. The Titan II has also fulfilled its mission.
Mission The mission of the Titan II weapon system was deterrence. It has never been the intent of the United States to launch a nuclear-tipped missile against another nation. To be an effective deterrent, a weapon system must possess a high degree of reliability and accuracy. The philosophy of deterrence encompasses the idea that the retaliatory capability of an armed force is of sufficient magnitude to make the cost of armed aggression prohibitive. Over the years the Titan II had proved its worth as an element in the United States deterrent force on the basis of its reliability and capabilities.
The Titan II weapon system was first activated in 1962. As a result of arms and nuclear reduction treaties, the Titan II weapon system was deactivated in the mid 80's. All but two Titan II sites have been dismantled. Site 571-7 in Green Valley Arizona, just south of Tuscon has been converted to a museum, and is open for public tours. The picture on the left, is of an actual active Titan II on alert. A viewing platform at the museum will give you the same view of a training missile.
One other Titan II site still intact is located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. This site was originally used as a test launch site.
The Titan II missile system was designed to destroy enemy strategic targets in a minimum of time. To do so, the warhead must be placed on a target with a high degree of accuracy and from a distance of over 5500 miles. This degree of accuracy is comparable to your throwing a golf ball into the mouth of a teacup 150 yards away. It is obvious that many variables must be considered in attaining this degree of accuracy. The powered portion of flight lasts less than one-sixth of the total flight time. Control of the flightpath was not possible after powered flight ends. So all factors such as velocity, attitude, and altitude must be attained before the end of powered flight to permit the warhead to freefall to the target. All missile systems exist solely for this purpose.
US Air Force Photo, by J. Fuller
US Air Force Photo, 1369th Photo Sq.
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© 2007, Copyright by Donald Boelling