Encyclopedia Astronautica

American mobile small intercontinental ballistic missile. Developed 1986-1991, but cancelled as unnecessary at the end of the Cold War.

The Small ICBM Midgetman emerged from the Washington DC controversies over basing strategies for the Peacekeeper ICBM. Missiles in fixed siloes were considered vulnerable to a Soviet first strike, but the Peacekeeper was so large that the USAF could not come up with a mobile deployment mode that was cheap enough to satisfy the US Congress. Midgetman would be a small ICBM, designed for deployment on a single Hardened Mobile Launcher vehicle. Martin Marietta was awarded the development contract in October 1986. First launch was in May 1989. By then the Cold War was ending and the requirement evaporated. Midgetman was terminated in January 1992.

Failures: 1. Success Rate: 50.00%. First Fail Date: 1989-05-11. Last Fail Date: 1989-05-11. Launch data is: complete. Standard warhead: 90 kg (198 lb). Maximum range: 11,000 km (6,000 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 1. Warhead yield: 500 KT. Boost Propulsion: Solid rocket. Minimum range: 1,300 km (800 mi). Initial Operational Capability: 1997.

Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch

Martin Marietta MGM-134 Midgetman

In the mid-1980s, the U.S. Air Force wanted to develop a small mobile ICBM to complement the fixed silo-based LGM-30 Minuteman and LGM-118 Peacekeeper missiles. System definition studies for this SICBM (Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) began in 1984, and in December 1986 Martin Marietta was given the go-ahead for the development of the XMGM-134A Midgetman missile. The first launch of an XMGM-134A in May 1989 was only partially successful, but the second full-scale test launch in April 1991 met all objectives.

The XMGM-134A was a three-stage solid-fueled missile, which used a "cold launch" method for lift-off (similar to the LGM-118 Peacekeeper). The missile was ejected from the launch canister by gas pressure, and the first stage motor did not ignite until it was clear of the canister. The Midgetman was to be based on special HML (Hardened Mobile Launcher) vehicles, which could be dispersed in time of crisis. The MGM-134 had a range of about 11000 km (6800 miles), and its warhead consisted of a single Mk.21 reentry vehicle with a 475 kT W-87-1 thermonuclear warhead. The missile's inertial guidance system provided for an accuracy of about 90 m (300 ft) CEP.

After the end of the Cold War, many nuclear weapon development programs were cancelled. This included the Midgetman SICBM, which was terminated in January 1992.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for XMGM-134A:

Length 14 m (46 ft)
Diameter 1.17 m (3 ft 10 in)
Weight 13600 kg (30000 lb)
Speed ?
Range 11000 km (6800 miles)
Propulsion Three-stage solid-fueled rocket
Warhead W-87-1 thermonuclear (475 kT) in Mk.21 RV
Main Sources

[1] Bernard Blake (ed.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1987-88", Jane's, 1988

AKA: LGM-134; Midgetman.
Status: Retired 1991.
Gross mass: 16,800 kg (37,000 lb).
Payload: 90 kg (198 lb).
Height: 14.02 m (45.99 ft).
Diameter: 1.17 m (3.83 ft).
Span: 1.17 m (3.83 ft).
Thrust: 979.00 kN (220,087 lbf).
Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).
First Launch: 1989.05.11.
Last Launch: 1991.04.18.
Number: 2 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • MR-120 Redmond Hydrazine rocket engine. 0.090 kN. Small ICBM. In Production. Developed as an attitude control thruster for the small ICBM. Isp=229s. More...

See also
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Martin American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Martin Marietta Astronautics Group (1956), Denver, CO, USA. More...

  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...

Associated Stages
  • SICBM-3 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 2,000 kg. Thrust 88.00 kN. More...
  • SICBM-2 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 5,000 kg. Thrust 267.00 kN. More...
  • SICBM-1 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 11,600 kg. Thrust 979.00 kN. More...

SICBM Chronology

1989 May 11 - . 18:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg TP-01. Launch Vehicle: SICBM. LV Configuration: SICBM FTM-1. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: AFSC. Apogee: 80 km (49 mi).

1991 April 18 - . 18:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg TP-01. Launch Vehicle: SICBM. LV Configuration: SICBM FTM-2A.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: AFSC. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

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