Weapon system

Weapon System was a United States Armed Forces military designation scheme for experimental weapons[1] (e.g., WS-220) before they received an official name — e.g., under a military aircraft designation system. The new designator reflected the increasing complexity of weapons that required separate development of auxiliary systems or components.

In November 1949, the Air Force decided to build the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger around a fire-control system.[2] This was "the real beginning of the weapon system approach [and the] aircraft would be integrated into the weapon system "as a whole from the beginning, so the characteristics of each component were compatible with the others".[3]

Around February 1950, an Air Research and Development Command "study prepared by Maj Gen Gordon P. Saville...recommended that a 'systems approach' to new weapons be adopted [whereby] development of a weapon "system" required development of support equipment as well as the actual hardware itself."[4]:166

The earliest WS designation was the 1954 WS-117L.[5]:22

US weapon programs were often begun as numbered government specifications such as an Advanced Development Objective (e.g., ADO-40) or a General Operational Requirement (e.g., GOR.80), although some programs were initially identified by contractor numbers (e.g., CL-282).1

Other weapons-programs designators included MX, for military experimental. The first Skunk Works program, dubbed MX-813, produced the Convair XF-92 in 1946),[4]:76

List of numbered programs for US military systems
Number Link to Wikipage
Project 3[6]:67 TCP for technical intelligence collection systems
Program 101, 102 (GOR-170) Samos (satellite)
WS-104A SM-64 Navaho
WS-107A SM-65 Atlas
WS-110 XB-70 Valkyrie
WS-117L (GOR.80)[6]:80–87 Advanced Reconnaissance System (originally Project 1115);[5]:30 recoverable capsule - Pied Piper/Sentry/SAMOS; television transmission - unfeasible;:87 Subsystem G: MiDAS
WS-119B (USAF 7795)[6]:139 Bold Orion ASAT
WS-119L Project Moby Dick (originally Project Genetrix)[5]:31–32
Article 121 Lockheed A-12
WS-124A Project Flying Cloud[7]
WS-125 (B-72)
WS-133A (Program 494L) LGM-30 Minuteman
GOR 148 AGM-28 Hound Dog
WS-199 Anti-satellite weapon
WS-199B Bold Orion
WS-199C High Virgo
WS-199D Alpha Draco
WS-201A 1954 interceptor
NA-211 interceptor design similar to fighter-bomber design that would become North American F-107
NA-212 North American F-107
WS-224A Phase I: BMEWS, Phase II: Wizard missile system[8]
CL-282[6]:71 Lockheed U-2
WS-306A Republic F-105 Thunderchief (misidentified as WS-3061)
WS315A PGM-17 Thor missile[9]
MX-324 Northrop XP-79
WS-324A General Dynamics F-111
CL-400[6]:149 Lockheed CL-400 Suntan
Program 437 (ADO-40)[5]:120 "nonorbital collision course satellite interceptor" using modified Thor
Program 437 X (AP) Alternate payload (AP) for satellite inspection ("a heritage of SAINT")[5]:125
Program 437 Y[5]:128 second development plan for Program 437 (later renamed Program 922)
Program 505[5]:118 MUDFLAP ASAT
MX-544[10] US copy of V-1 flying bomb (Republic-Ford JB-2 "Loon")
D-558 Douglas Skystreak, Skyrocket
Project 572 Distant Early Warning Line
MX-606 cruise missile precursor to Bomarc
Air Force System 609A Blue Scout
Air Force System 621B[11] GPS
DSP-647[6]:99 Defense Support Program
MX-653 Bell X-1
MX-770 SM-64 Navaho
MX-771 Navy tactical cruise missile superseded by MX-773
MX-773 SSM-N-8 Regulus
MX-774 feasibility designs for subsonic and supersonic surface-to-surface missiles (three WSPG launches July–December 1948)[12] leading to SM-65 Atlas
MX-776A RTV-A-4 Shrike
MX-813 Convair XF-92
Program 893[5]:128 ICBM ASAT
MX-904 GAR-1 Falcon missile
Program 922[5]:129 rename of Program 437 Y
System 1393Western Electric RCDC for the Improved Nike Hercules Air Defense Guided Missile System
Project MX-1554 1954 Interceptor (Convair's proposed airframe was used for an interim interceptor—F-102A; as well as the 1954 interceptor-- F-102B; Republic's proposed design was used for the separate F-103 project.)
MX-1589 nuclear-powered Convair B-36
MX-1626 (FZP-110) initial Convair proposal for eventual Convair B-58 Hustler award
MX-1712 Boeing Generalized Bomber Study (GEBO II) proposal]] (competitor against winning Convair MX-1712 design for B-58 Hustler)
MX-1599 CIM-10 Bomarc
MX-1964 Convair B-58 Hustler (previously MX-1626)
MX-1965 Boeing XB-59


^1 When a government program number is not available, a contractor number (if available) is used in the table, e.g., Lockheed CL-282 for the U-2.

  1. http://www.acronymfinder.com/Military-and-Government/MX.html
  2. Donald 2003, pp. 68–69
  3. Grant Historical Study No. 126 p. 53
  4. Daso, Dik (Major, USAF) (September 1997). Architects of American Air Supremacy: General Hap Arnold and Dr Theodore von Kármán. Air University Press. pp. 76, 166.
  5. Stares, Paul B. "The Militarization of Space". Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  6. Burroughs, William E. (1988) [1986]. Deep Black (paperback ed.). New York: Berkley Publishing Group. ISBN 0-425-10879-1.
  7. Parsch, Andreas (21 March 2006). "WS-124A Flying Cloud". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles. Designation-Systems. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  8. Cite NORAD Historical Summary 1958 January–June, p. 106
  9. "Correspondence: Weapon System" (Flighglobal/Archive). Flight. 6 February 1959. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  10. Cooksley, Peter G (1979). Flying Bomb. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. p. 141.
  11. Preston, Bob (1994). "Plowshares and Power: The Military Use of Civil Space". p. 250.
  12. Braun, Wernher von; Ordway III, Frederick I; Dooling, David Jr (1985) [1975]. Space Travel: A History. New York: Harper & Row. p. 132. ISBN 0-06-181898-4.
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