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Violet Friend ABM System

Hood

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I found out some information about Britain's embroynic ABM system designed in the 1950s.

The Ministry of Supply in 1954 placed study contracts with English Electric and Marconi to develop a ballistic missile defence. In February 1955 this led to Air Staff Target AST 1135. The entire programme was given the code name "Violet Friend" and now also invloved Bristol and Ferranti. The main threat was from the first generation ground-launched ballisitc missiles.
The initial phase began in early 1957 and would be integrated with the guided weapons then under development, the Bloodhound I and Thunderbird I. This would provide the basic cover neccesry from 1963. Wherever possible existing hardware or hardware in the fianl stages of development was used to reduce time and allow the programme to be cancelled at minimal cost wihtout wasting money on advanced projects.

The system was required to handle up to six ballistic missiles engagements at a time.
A quartet of radars would be utilised for each engagement; AMES Type 85 "Blue Yeoman", a AN/FPS-16 booster tracking radar, a second AN/FPS-16 warhead tracking rada an AMES Type 83 "Yellow River" Target Illumination Radar for the Bloodhound SAM. The US AN/FPS-16 was the only 3-D missile-tracking radar avialbe to Britian. The Blue Yeoman early warning radar would be located in East Anglia to give the best coverage of Eastern Europe. The warhead tracking AN/FPS-16 radars would be sited in Holland, in the south near Terneuzen and in the north on the island of Terschelling. This gave a sideways coverage to better show up the warheads whose conical shape gave limited stealth abilites and allowed them to be incorperated in the European network. The AN/FPS-16 radar sets tracking the boosters would also be East Anglia. The "Blue Yeoman" radar would detect the missile as it rose above the radar horizon. The booster tracking AN/FPS-16 would be directed onto the booster and track it until separation. The warhead tracking AN/FPS-16 would then use the booster tracker information to acquire the warhead. The warhead would be tracked until it came within the engagement envelope of the Bloodhound. This data would be fed to the missile guidance computer and the Bloodhound would be launched under the guidance of the "Yellow River" radar. The optimal inercept would occur at between 30000 - 40000ft. The Bloodhound Mk2 with nuclear warhead would have been the perferred choice.

In 1962 this ambitious scheme was abandoned. Theodore Von Karman gave the reason, "Whoever solves the ABM puzzle first will have a considerable advantage". It was not just the technical details but political considerations and the strategic balance that killed this interesting project. Would it have worked? It may have but perhaps larger raids would have overwhelmed the system.
 

Skybolt

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I think the real reason was that UK could be attacked by Soviet Union with a variety of methods, counting missiles only, and some had a real short warning time (not to mention interception). Think of the Golf II sub with Serb missile in North Atlantic, .... By 1963 they were operational.
 

Hood

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True but in 1954 when the stuides began I doubt the prospect of SLBMs coming from the Atlantic was taken into account. This is problem of the Cold War advances in technology, it took so long to develop a weapons system, as opposed to just single weapon types, that it could be obsolete.

Perhaps another system based in Ireland and Western UK could have covered the Atlantic? (At great additional cost)
 

Skybolt

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I see some problems have the Irish host an ABM system for UK.... ;)
 

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