Bomarc A in the rocket garden
- Hangar C, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Type: Surface-to-air guided missile
Designation: IM-99B / CIM-10B
Serial Number: 59-1913
Payload: conventional or nuclear warhead
Agency: U.S. Air Force
Contractor: The Boeing Company
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Operations: 1952-1960
In February 1946, the Army Air Force (AAF) commissioned the Boeing Airplane Company to create a supersonic winged interceptor called the Ground-to-air Pilotless Aircraft (GAPA). Boeing’s GAPA design provided for a radar guided missile, with a solid propellant booster using a ramjet that would operate at a maximum altitude of 60,000 feet and a range of 35 miles. Additionally, the AAF studied other short-range, long range, antiaircraft, and antiballistic missile designs. In January 1950, the Air Force canceled the GAPA and began the Bomarc project.
The first model, Bomarc A, used a liquid propellant rocket booster engine and two ramjets designed to achieve a range of 125 miles. The missile measured 46.75 feet in length, weighed 15,000 pounds, and had a top speed of about Mach 2.5. Its swept-back wing configuration made it look like a jet, albeit one sitting on its tail. The Air Force estimated that by 1952 it would need 30 Bomarc squadrons (100 missiles per squadron) to defend the U.S. This estimated requirement would grow to 53 squadrons by 1953, the heyday of the Bomarc air defense system. In fact, by 1960, only 8 Bomarc squadrons were deployed in the U.S. (6) and Canada (2).
Bomarc A encountered several problems during its testing and deployment associated with the liquid propellant booster engine, ramjets, internal target seeker radar guidance system, and command and control systems. Program engineers also experienced problems in integrating the Bomarc’s ramjets and booster engine. Another difficulty involved the target seeker guidance system which either failed to lock onto its target or would prematurely arm and detonate the missile’s warhead. Additionally, the Bomarc system required a separate, new, and untested command and control component, the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE). Because of these technical problems and the difficulty SAGE operators experienced in integrating target identification, launch, and interception systems, Air Force engineers planned to field the less capable Bomarc A first, while continuing their efforts to introduce their “ultimate” surface-to-air missile, the Bomarc B.
The Bomarc A was on display in the Museum Rocket Garden until it was removed in October 2010 for a major restoration. On 20 May 2011, the fully restored Bomarc A returned to the museum with U.S. Air Force markings as used during Cape test flights. The Bomarc is now on display in Hangar R, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.