The development and introduction of phased array radars and a high acceleration SPRINT interceptor went far to overcome the
NIKE ZEUS system deficiencies. The new radars, using electronic beam steering, relieved almost completely the traffic handling
problem of the old radars. The SPRINT, because of its very high acceleration, could now withhold fire until the incoming objects
entered the atmosphere. This made possible the use of atmospheric filtering for discrimination of lightweight objects such as
chaff, balloons and tank fragments.
These advantages were so desirable that, in January 1961, the old ZEUS was canceled and a new development, NIKE X, begun.
The NIKE X system had two phased array radars, the very large Multifunction Array Radar (MAR) for long-range detection,
acquisition and discrimination, and the short-range Missile Site Radar (MSR) for guiding the SPRINT and ZEUS interceptors
(the ZEUS interceptor was the only carryover from the NIKE ZEUS).
Defense technology continued to advance in 1964 and 1965. One newly evolved concept used a large nuclear warhead for
out-of-atmosphere kills at long ranges (where its effect on the ground would be negligible). To take advantage of this
characteristic, a new long-range interceptor was required.
To support this long-range missile a long-range surveillance and tracking radar was introduced, much cheaper than the MAR.
The new radar later became known as the Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR). It was determined that the PAR and MSR radars
and the SPARTAN and SPRINT interceptors could be assembled in many combinations and their deployments could be tailored
to meet various threats. Also, it became apparent that the addition of the new interceptor (SPARTAN) with its large warhead
permitted, for the first time, a 'thin" defense of the entire United States against small threats.
- Adapted from Vigilant and Invincible by Colonel Stephen P. Moellerf ADA (Air Defense Artillery) Magazine May-June 1995.
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