Nike, named for the mythical Greek goddess of victory, was the name given to a program which ultimately produced the world's first successful, widely-deployed, guided surface-to-air missile system. Planning for Nike was begun during the last months of the Second World War when the U.S. Army realized that conventional anti-aircraft artillery would not be able to provide an adequate defense against the fast, high-flying and maneuverable jet aircraft which were being introduced into service, particularly by the Germans.
The mission of Nike within the continental US was to act as a "last ditch" line of air defense for selected areas. The Nike system would have been utilized in the event that the Air Force's long-range fighter-interceptor aircraft had failed to destroy any attacking bombers at a greater distance from their intended targets. Nike missile sites were constructed in defensive "rings" surrounding major urban and industrial areas. Additional Nike sites protected key Strategic Air Command bases and other sensitive installations.
A "typical" Nike air defense site consisted of two separate parcels of land. One area was known as the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) Area. This site contained the Nike system's ground-based radar and computer systems designed to detect and track hostile aircraft, and to guide the missiles to their targets.
The second parcel of land was known as the Launcher Area. At the launcher area, Nike missiles were stored horizontally within heavily constructed underground missile "magazines". A large, missile elevator brought the Nikes to the surface of the site where they would be pushed (manually) by crewmen, across twin steel rails to one of four satellite launchers. The missile was then attached to its launcher and erected to a near-vertical position for firing. The near-vertical firing position ensured that the missile's booster rocket (lower stage) would not crash directly back onto the missile site, but, instead, would land within a predetermined "booster impact area".
The control and launcher areas were separated by a distance of 1,000 to 6,000 yards (roughly 0.5- to 3.5-miles) and were often located within different townships. Technical limitations of the guidance system required the two facilities to be separated by a minimum of 3,000 feet. Whenever possible, control areas were constructed on high ground in order to gain superior radar coverage of the area. Control areas were generally located between the area being defended and the launcher area containing the missiles.
The shifting nature of the Soviet threat meant that the air defense role, for which Nike was originally intended, became relatively less critical as time passed. Defense dollars were needed for other projects (including the development of American ICBMs and potential missile defenses) and to fund the rapidly growing war in Vietnam. Accordingly, beginning in the mid 1960s, the total number of operational Nike bases within the continental U.S. was steadily reduced on an almost annual basis.
During 1974, all remaining sites within the nationwide Nike air defense system were inactivated. Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM) which administered this system was closed down shortly thereafter. One of the nation's most significant Cold War air defense programs had come to an end.
Your mission – Photograph and provide coordinates of a decommissioned Nike Site, include information about the site if possible. If you’re up to the challenge, find both the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) Area, along with its corresponding Launcher Area although only one area is required to log this cache, and you don't get two smilies for finding both. ;)
Usual rules apply – One log per cacher. One log per Nike Site. Post photograph of Site showing GPSr. Supply coordinates of Site.
The following pictures are of NF-16 (Niagara Falls Control Area) and NF-17DC (Niagara Falls Direction Center).