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Redstone Arsenal


The LANCE was a mobile field artillery tactical missile system used to provide both nuclear and non-nuclear general fire support to the Army Corps. Designed to attack key enemy targets beyond the range of cannon artillery and to reinforce the fires of other artillery units, the LANCE replaced the HONEST JOHN, fielded in 1954, and the SERGEANT system, deployed in 1962. It filled the U.S. Army's need for a highly mobile, medium-range, fin stabilized, all weather, surface-to-surface missile weapon system.

The LANCE's primary mission targets included enemy missile firing positions, airfields, transportation centers, command and logistic installations, critical terrain features (defiles, bridgeheads, main supply routes, etc.), and large troop concentrations. The missile was aimed using field artillery techniques plus the variable booster time. Unlike other Army missiles that use solid propellants, the LANCE used a prepackaged, liquid fuel that eliminated any need for fueling in the field and gave the LANCE a short reaction time. It was capable of delivering nuclear warheads out to a range of about 75 miles and conventional warheads to a range of about 45 miles.

The missile system briefly gained notoriety as the "neutron bomb," after the Washington Post reported on the Army's development of a warhead for the LANCE that would kill people but cause minimal destruction of property. The enhanced radiation warhead was designed to release within a restricted radius great quantity of neutrons which attacked the human central nervous system. The warhead would also reduce the heat and blast effects of conventional nuclear warheads, thereby reducing the destruction of buildings and collateral damage to civilian populated areas.

Officials believed that the LANCE enhanced radiation warhead would deter a Soviet attack by threatening the U.S.S.R. with a weapon that could be used without destroying the Federal Republic of Germany in order to save it. Congress approved production funds for the new warhead on 13 July 1977, but President Jimmy Carter deferred production of the neutron warhead in April 1978. Established under the U.S. Army Ordnance Missile Command (AOMC) as the Missile "B" Project Office on 11 December 1961, the subsequently renamed LANCE was one of the original project management offices created with the activation of the U.S. Army Missile Command (MICOM) on 1 August 1962.

The LANCE Missile System development began when MICOM issued a letter contract to Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), prime contractor for the system, on 11 January 1963. The LANCE Project Office was terminated on 31 March 1980, and responsibility for the missile system transferred to the MICOM Weapon Systems Management Directorate (WSMD). Level II management of the system was subsequently provided by the MICOM Missile Logistics Center (later the Integrated Materiel Management Center) from July 1981 until FY 1992. Responsibility for the demilitarization and reuse of excess LANCE assets was transferred to the reestablished MICOM WSMD in FY 1993.

A family of field artillery missiles designated "A" to "D" was proposed for development in the 1965-70 timeframe. Missile "B" was to deliver a 1000-pound nuclear, non-nuclear, or chemical warhead to a range of 75 kilometers. Accuracy was set at 5 miles to encourage a low unit cost of the missile. On 9 May 1962, the Department of Defense (DOD) directed that the prime contractor for the Missile "B" development program be selected by 1 October 1962. On 1 November 1962, the Army selected the LTV team in Dallas, Texas, to do the work in the Michigan Army Missile Plant (MAMP).

At this time, Missile "B" was renamed LANCE. LTV immediately started the total system development with emphasis on meeting the schedule incentive for the first flight. Three LANCE missile configurations were planned for the development program. The missile length had to be increased to compensate for reduced engine performance. The final block of flight tests was completed successfully on 3 October 1966. The following month, recommendations for Limited Production (LP) were submitted to the Department of the Army (DA), which authorized LP procurement of 17 sets of ground support equipment (GSE) on 15 June 1967. Studies in April 1965 showed that LANCE could extend its range to 75 miles by the use of a higher performance engine and larger fins, and by removing the ballast from the nuclear warhead. On 15 December 1967, the Secretary of the Defense directed that only the XRL configuration of LANCE be fielded. On 6 March 1970, the XRL maximum range and accuracy were successfully demonstrated. A senior In-Process Review (IPR) on 10 September 1970 recommended LP production of 75 missiles and cancelled the chemical warhead flights. Nuclear warhead missile failures required a major redesign of the nuclear warhead circuitry. Another 12 missiles and 9 additional months were required to certify the redesign. The nuclear warhead was declared TC-STD-A on 16 April 1973. In 1976, the production go-ahead for 360 missiles was received.

LANCE missile production was approved in September 1970, and the first battalion was fielded to the U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR) in September 1973. Less than two years later, the first full-scale deployment of the LANCE to a foreign military sales (FMS) customer was accomplished. Once it was fully fielded, the Army had eight LANCE battalions, six in Europe and two in the United States. LANCE was also sold to NATO allies and to Israel in the non-nuclear version. Originally scheduled to be retired in the mid-1980s, the LANCE system was extended through 1990. DA subsequently decided in June 1985 to extend the nuclear-only LANCE shelf life to 1995.

However, on 27 September 1991, President George Bush announced a unilateral cut in nuclear weapons, which was followed on 5 October by a similar announcement by President Mikhail Gorbachev of the U.S.S.R. Although the Soviet Union collapsed shortly thereafter, the United States later reaffirmed this nuclear arms reduction agreement by signing a treaty with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine on 23 May 1992.

The final LANCE battalion stood down at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on 30 June 1992. After being demilitarized, excess LANCE missiles were set aside for use as targets. The success of the LANCE program is keyed to the fact that LANCE was never fired in anger, and with the U.S./U.S.S.R. Treaty, tactical nuclear missiles have been dismantled, including LANCE.

Much more information on the LANCE to include pictures, LTV production information etc. may be found at:

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Patrick Barber 19-Apr-2012 21:20
I was a 15 Delta Lance Missle Crewman from Oct'83 to Jan'91 serving with the 1st of the 32nd Hanau FRG 6th of the 33rd Ft.Sill Ok and 3rd of the 32nd Weisbaden FRG.I also witnessed two live fires and the Firing Section I was in did both. I'm proud of my time as a 15Dog.