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Kansas City: Nike-Hercules Missile Defense Area

In 1958, four sites around the Kansas City area were assigned to be launchers for the Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missile. Officials stated that the reason for the installation of the missiles were in response to growing tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union as well as the recent Suez Crisis (1956) and Arab-Israeli conflicts. Kansas governor George Docking saw the Nike system as a "deterrent".

According to Colonel Leslie J. Staub the commander of Richard-Gebaur Airforce Base, the Nike could intercept all known aircraft and missiles at the time. The completion for the sites took 14 months. The Nike-Hercules missile, it's military designation being the MIM-14 surface-to-air-missile (SAM) had an effective range of 75 miles and carried a nuclear weapon as it's payload; this warhead was meant to destroy entire formations of hostile bombers or an incoming ballistic missile without requiring a direct hit. The Nike-Hercules could hit targets up to an altitude of 150,000 feet.

The groundbreaking ceremony at Fort Leavenworth was very publicized, with Governor Docking attending. The missiles were in operation from 1960-1969. The initial cost of construction was $6 million dollars however additional add-ons to the system increased the cost. The Command and Control site for the Nike system was located in Olathe. At the command site, radar information was relayed from throughout the country to the command site and prioritized targets in the event of an attack.

Entry: Kansas City: Nike-Hercules Missile Defense Area

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2015

Date Modified: January 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.