My review of Peter Merlin's book on Area 51 with respect to guided missiles

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Message posted by Vahe Demirjian (Member since 04/28/2022) on June 18, 2024 at 13:10:29 PST:

A few days ago, I decided to write a blog post on the blog section of my WordPress website "US Guided Missiles and Rockets" reviewing sections of the Area 51 book by Peter Merlin regarding the Lockheed ATCM (Senior Prom) and Northrop TSSAM (Senior Pennant) cruise missiles because those two stealthy cruise missiles were tested in secret over southern Nevada.

As I've said elsewhere on this forum, Peter Merlin has done an outstanding job illuminating the history of flight tests of the ATCM and TSSAM, especially given that prior to the publication of the book “Dreamland: The Secret History of Area 51”, photos of the TSSAM during flight testing were not published in any prior literature, but also revealing why the Senior Prom program was canceled before it could enter production. As I note in the blog post, the fact that the AGM-129 ACM entered service despite having an airframe longer than the B-1B's bomb bay made me call into question any suggestions that the Senior Prom was cancelled due to the ATCM itself not being suitable for carriage in the B-1B bomb bay, and Merlin taking note of the fact that high unit costs led to the termination of the Senior Prom program in 1982 despite successful flight tests confirmed my opinion that the ATCM's cancellation had nothing to do with the missile not being small enough to be carried in the B-1B's bomb bay. In fact, Merlin has noted that there was once a requirement for the ATCM to be carried by the B-1A in additional to the B-52, but that the requirement for the B-1 to carry the ATCM was revoked when Jimmy Carter canceled the B-1A in June 1977, in which case the B-52 was the only launch platform left to carry the ATCM should that missile enter service.

Attached link: Review of “Dreamland: The Secret History of Area 51” with respect to guided missiles


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