SSM-A-23 Dart

The XSSM-A-23 Dart was an anti-tank guided missile developed for the United States Army in the 1950s. After protracted development, the missile, similar in design to the French SS.10, was cancelled in favor of purchasing the SS.11 missile.

SSM-A-23 Dart
XSSM-A-23 prototype
TypeAnti-tank missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
Used byUnited States Army
Specifications (XSSM-A-23)
Mass100 lb (45 kg)
Length5 ft (150 cm)
Diameter8 in (200 mm)
WarheadShaped charge

EngineDual-thrust solid-fuel rocket
Wingspan3 ft 4 in (1.02 m)
PropellantSolid fuel
3,333 yd (1.894 mi; 3.048 km)
Speed900 ft/s (610 mph; 990 km/h)
Manual command to line of sight
ReferencesParsch 2003,[1] Jacobs and Whitney 1962[2]

Design and development

The initial requirement for a guided anti-tank missile, intended for the replacement of recoilless rifles and Bazookas in the role,[3] was issued by the U.S. Army in 1951;[4] that November,[5] the Aerophysics Development Corporation responded with a proposal for a wire-guided weapon, similar in concept and configuration to the SS.10 missile being developed in France.[2] After evaluating the SS.10 in 1952–53,[1] the Army issued a contract for full development of the Aerophysics Development missile, designated SSM-A-23 Dart, in April 1953.[4]

The SSM-A-23 was of conventional configuration for an anti-tank missile of the time, having cruciform wings and stabilizing fins,[3] with spoilerons providing control;[1] a dual-thrust solid-propellant rocket produced by the Grand Central Rocket Company provided thrust.[3] The launcher for the missile was mounted on a variant of the M59 armored personnel carrier designated T149;[6] helicopter launching was also considered as a possibility.[4] Guidance was by manual command to line of sight, the missile operator following a sodium flare in the tail of the missile and guiding the missile to the target with commands sent by a wire that spooled from the missile during flight.[3] Due to difficulties experienced in testing with ensuring accuracy, an infrared seeker was proposed for terminal homing.[4] The missile was fitted with a shaped charge warhead intended to defeat the armor of enemy tanks.[1]

During development of the Dart, Aerophysics Development was acquired by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation,[7] the purchase taking place in December 1954. Curtiss-Wright then acquired the company as part of a larger deal with Studebaker-Packard in August 1956.[8]

Operational history

The first launch trials of the XSSM-A-23 prototype missiles took place in August 1954; over the next year, forty additional tests took place. These proved less than satisfactory; by 1957, the Dart was still not ready for service, and it was believed that Aerophysics Development had overextended themselves with the technical challenges involved in the missile's development.[1] Accordingly, the program was extended, with some of the Army's requirements being relaxed, however in September 1958 the program was determined to be too far behind schedule and too far over budget to be successful, and the contract for the Dart was cancelled.[2][4] The Army adopted the SS.10, designated MGM-21, and the SS.11, designated AGM-22, in its stead.[2] The program had cost $44 million in 1955 dollars.[9]



  1. Parsch 2003
  2. Jacobs and Whitney 1962, p.44.
  3. Ordway and Wakeford 1960, p.USA4
  4. "Dart". White Sands Missile Range. United States Army. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  5. Hunnicutt 1999, p.176.
  6. Hunnicutt 1999, p.78.
  7. Bowman 1957, p.102.
  8. Friedman 1958, p. 20.
  9. Wade, Mark. "Dart missile". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2017-12-08.


  • Bowman, Norman John (1957). The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles. Chicago: Perastadion Press. ASIN B0007EC5N4.
  • Friedman, Murray N. (1958). The Research and Development Factor in Mergers and Acquisitions. Study of the Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights. Washington. D.C.: Government Printing Office. ASIN B0007FC10K.
  • Hunnicutt, R.P. (1999). Bradley: A History of American Fighting and Support Vehicles. Novato, CA: Presidio Press. ISBN 978-0891416944.
  • Jacobs, Horace; Eunice Engelke Whitney (1962). Missile and Space Projects Guide 1962. New York: Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4899-6967-5.
  • Ordway, Frederick Ira; Ronald C. Wakeford (1960). International Missile and Spacecraft Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill. ASIN B000MAEGVC.
  • Parsch, Andreas (2 February 2003). "Aerophysics Development SSM-A-23 Dart". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones. Designation-Systems. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
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