Unguided anti-aircraft rockets had been developed in the past but their unguided nature meant they could not chase an evading aircraft or even compensate for simple air turbulence. Nike Ajax was built to address these shortcomings of earlier attempts at air defense rocketry and became the first supersonic guided missile used by the United States.
Nike batteries were found throughout the United States protecting population centers, industrial complexes, ICBM sites, and deep-sea shipping ports from strategic bombers and other enemy aircraft. Organized into Defense Areas, which had variable numbers of Nike batteries assigned to protect them, the Nike Ajax provided rings of protect to the vital infrastructure of the United States during the Cold War.
U.S. Army Air Defense Command (USARADCOM)
The first test of Nike Ajax was here at White Sands Missile Range in 1952. In the test a drone B-17 bomber was targeted by a Nike Ajax from Launch Complex 33. The test was an explosive success and a video of this test is available below:
Introducing the Nike Ajax
Fort Bliss - The Heart of Army Air Defense : This film provides an overall look at the history of Army Air Defense. Many demonstrations of historically significant air defense systems are presented. This film was made in cooperation with White Sands Missile Range.