Nike Hercules Missile as used by the "Koninklijke Luchtmacht" (RNLAF) at the Military Aviation Museum, Kamp Zeist (the Netherlands)
The Nike Hercules (initially designated SAM-A-25, and later MIM-14 or Mobile Interceptor Missile, design 14), was a solid fuel propelled two-stage Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM), used by United States and NATO armed forces for medium- and high-altitude long-range air defense. It was normally armed with the W31 nuclear warhead, but could also be fitted with a conventional warhead for export use. Its warhead also allowed it to be used in a surface-to-surface role, and the system also demonstrated its ability to hit other short-range missiles in flight. The Nike Hercules was replaced in the long-range anti-aircraft role by the higher performance and considerably more mobile MIM-104 Patriot. Development of the Nike Hercules took place in the early 1950s and deployment commenced in 1958. Most of these were converted Nike Ajax units. Deactivation of Nike Hercules batteries in the United States commenced in the early 1970s and was completed by 1975, with the exception of batteries remaining in Alaska and Florida. These batteries were deactivated in the late 1970s. The Nike Hercules provided effective ranges on the order of 75 miles (120 km) and altitudes over 100.000 feet (30 km). Approximately 25.000 Nike Hercules were manufactured. Three versions were produced, MIM-14A, B and C.
Nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles were deployed in the United States, Greece, Italy, Korea and Turkey, and with Belgian, Dutch,
and United States forces in West Germany. Conventionally armed Nike Hercules missiles also served in the United States, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Norway, and Taiwan. The first deployments in Europe began in 1959. The United States Army continued to use Hercules as a front-line air defense weapon in Europe until 1983, when Patriot missile batteries were deployed. NATO units from West Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Greece and Turkey continued to use the Hercules for high-altitude air defense until the late 1980s.
With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the units were deactivated in 1988. The last Hercules missile
was launched in the Sardinian range of Capo San Lorenzo in Italy on 24 November 2006.