An air-launched ballistic missile or ALBM is a ballistic missile launched from an aircraft. This class of missile never saw active use. The only known missile of this type that was intended for operational service, the GAM-87 Skybolt, intended to be launched from B-52 Stratofortress and Avro Vulcan bombers, was in development by the United States Air Force, with the United Kingdom as a customer. In 1962, with technical difficulties and costs mounting, the program was cancelled, with the United States and the UK concentrating on the UGM-27 Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile instead.
In the early 1970s, the USAF tested air launching a Minuteman ICBM from a C-5A Galaxy transport aircraft. On 24 October 1974, the Space and Missile Systems Organization successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility Test where a C-5A Galaxy aircraft air dropped the 86,000-pound missile from 20,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. The missile descended to 8,000 feet before its rocket engine fired. The 10-second engine burn carried the missile to 20,000 feet again before it dropped into the ocean. The test proved the feasibility of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile from the air. Operational deployment was discarded due to engineering and security difficulties, though the capability was used as a negotiating point in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
Air-launched ballistic training missiles
- U.S. Air Force, Inside the AF.MIL Heritage section (Thursday, January 01, 1970 - Sunday, December 31, 1989)
- Marti and Sarigul-Klijn, A Study of Air Launch Methods for RLVs. Doc No. AIAA 2001-4619, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Dept, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
- Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Alastair Jamieson (September 3, 2013). "Amid Syria tension, Israel test-fires missile over Mediterranean Sea". NBC News. http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/03/20305187-amid-syria-tension-israel-test-fires-missile-over-mediterranean-sea?lite.
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