Lightning Bolts: First Maneuvering Reentry Vehicles

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History shows that demands of wartime military and political leaders have often motivated development of new and advanced technologies. The German desire to attack American cities with long-range variants of V-2 missiles during the latter years of World War II stimulated development of maneuvering reentry vehicle concepts. In the mid-1960s, these concepts were secretly refined and tested by the United States to provide accurate delivery of strategic nuclear warheads at intercontinental ranges and to assure their penetration of newly developed Soviet anti-ballistic missile defenses. First Maneuvering Reentry Vehicles, by William C. Yengst, describes the initial feasibility programs to test three alternative designs for implementing hypersonic maneuvers and accurate guidance of long-range reentry vehicles. It identifies the political and military motivations, environmental challenges, design difficulties, innovative technology solutions, test failures, and spectacular successes. It also summarizes development of operational maneuvering reentry vehicles prepared for U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Army long-range missile systems during the 1980s. The technology has been adopted and further refined by foreign nations (India, China and Russia) in building their latest missile systems. Therefore, it is important to understand the capabilities and performance characteristics of future potential threats. Written as a first-hand account of the technology's evolution, the book honors the dedicated engineers and scientists who worked to make these programs a success.
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