In a military setting, a missile is a guided airborne self-propelled explosive capable of causing insurmountable losses. Today, almost every country worldwide has a defense system that relies on some form of these explosives. Here, we look at some of the most fascinating missile facts.
1. A Soviet Duty Officer Probably Saved the World from Nuclear War
Stanislav Petrov was a Russian lieutenant colonel who worked in the Soviet Defense Forces. His responsibility was to monitor the satellites and report any possible attacks to his superiors. On September 26, 1983, the satellite systems detected what appeared to be nuclear missiles approaching.
Petrov had a dilemma: report the occurrence to his superiors, who would most likely order a counterattack or treat the warnings as false alarms. He instinctively chose to ignore the prompts, and as it turned out, he was right.
The satellite had picked up the sun’s reflection of the cloud and interpreted it as attacking missiles. Had he alerted his majors and a counterattack ordered, the Soviets would have inevitably started a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles war.
2. 6 Nuclear Missiles Were Unknowingly Flown from Minot to Barksdale in 2007
In what was considered one of the US Air Force’s biggest black eyes, 6 nuclear missiles were unknowingly transported from one base to another. For over 36 hours, the officers were unaware that the dangerous explosives were onboard a B-52 plane.
They flew from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, prompting the firing of the then secretary and chief of staff.
3. Different Types of Missiles Are Available
The launch platform and target are the major factors considered when classifying missiles. Today, different types of missiles are available. They include air-to-surface, anti-ship, air-to-surface, air-to-air, and anti-assault.
On the other hand, ballistic missiles rely on how far they can affect. They include short-range, medium-range, intermediate-range, and intercontinental.
4. A Nuclear Missile Crewman Was Kicked Out Of The Military For Asking a Question On Missile Usage
Harold L. Hering served in the military as a nuclear missile crewman. However, he was kicked out of the service for asking an “inappropriate” question. His concern was how he was to know that an order to strike came from a sane president.
5. The First Use of The Sidewinder Missile Was a Dud
A sidewinder missile is a short-range air-to-air missile adopted in the United States Navy in 1958. However, its first combat use was in 1958, but even so, it was a dud! After hitting the enemy’s plane, the missile failed to explode, causing insignificant damage.
Upon returning to the base, the target pilot took the dud sidewinder missile to their engineers. They studied it and eventually reverse-engineered an almost identical one.
6. The SR-71 Blackbird Is So Fast It Can Evade Missiles
To date, the SR-71 Blackbird is among the fastest airplanes ever built. It was so swift that all it had to do to evade missiles aimed at it was accelerate. Estimates show the jet survived more than 4,000 missile attacks over 25 years of service.
7. Major Wilbert “Doug” Pearson Destroyed A Satellite With a Missile
Deemed almost impossible, Major “Doug” Pearson was the first to destroy a satellite by firing a missile from his F-15A plane. The pilot was on a steep climb, flying under Mach 1 when he pushed the “Pickle button.” This happened on September 13, 1985.
8. The Danish Navy Accidentally Fired A Missile At Its Mainland
In one of their operations, the Danish Navy mistakenly fired a missile at its mainland, causing significant damage. About 4 holiday cottages and 130 buildings were damaged in Lumsaas, Denmark. Fortunately, no human lives were lost, and the incident is now famously regarded as the “oops” missile.
9. An Author Wrote About Missiles in 1863
In 1863, Jules Verne, a writer known for his extraordinaire voyages, wrote about the possibility of future missile use. However, his publisher refused to publish the work for about a century as it was unbelievable. The other predicted aspects included electric street lighting, the internet, feminism, and gas-powered cars. At the time, these were considered a pipe dream.
10. Apple Forbids Its Users from Using iTunes to Manufacture Missiles
In section G of Apple’s end-user license agreement (EULA), the company forbids users from developing, designing, manufacturing, or producing missiles using iTunes.
11. A Russian Mobster Attempted to Buy a Military Submarine
Ludwig Faiberg, famously known as “Tarzan,” attempted to buy a military submarine in 1980. Due to his connections and booming businesses, finding a loose end to exploit wasn’t hard. When he approached his accomplice from the government on the possibility of purchasing a submarine, he was asked, “With missiles or without missiles?”
12. 00000000 Was Used As a Password For Computer-Controlled Nuclear Missiles
For about 8 years, the United States used the password 00000000 for its computer-controlled nuclear missiles. Most consider this strange, considering the harm that such materials can cause.