The Polaris missile was a two-stage solid-fuel nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) built during the Cold War by Lockheed Corporation of California for the United States Navy.
It was designed to be used as part of the Navy's contribution to the United States arsenal of nuclear weapons, replacing the Regulus cruise missile. Known as a Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM), the Polaris was first launched from the Cape Canaveral, Florida, missile test base on January 7, 1960.
Following the Polaris Sales Agreement in 1963, Polaris missiles were also carried on British Royal Navy submarines between 1968 and the mid-1990s.
Plans to equip the Italian Navy with the missile ended in the mid-60s, after several successful test launches carried out on board an Italian cruiser, as effect of the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis.
The Polaris missile was gradually replaced in the US Navy by the Poseidon missile, beginning in 1972. During the 1980s, these missiles were replaced on the newest ten of the boats by the Trident I missile.
History and development
The Polaris missile replaced an earlier plan to create a submarine-based missile force based on a huge surfaced submarine carrying four "Jupiter" missiles, which would be carried and launched horizontally. This Navy "Jupiter" missile is not to be confused with the U.S. Army Jupiter Intermediate-range ballistic missile. At Edward Teller's prompting , the Navy's "Jupiter" missile plans were abandoned in favor of the much smaller, solid-fuel-propelled Polaris.
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