Hadès (missile)

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HADES
Type Short-range pre-strategic ballistic nuclear missile (SRBM)
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1991 (terminated in 1996)
Production history
Manufacturer Aerospatiale (Now EADS)
Specifications
Weight 1,850 kg
Length 7.50 m
Diameter 0.53 m
Warhead Single TN-90 80 kt of TNT nuclear warhead
High explosives conventional warhead

Engine Single-stage solid
Operational
range
480 km
Guidance
system
Inertial guidance system
Digital terminal guidance (GPS)
TV digital scene matching
Launch
platform
wheeled platforms composed of a tractor and a trailer with two missiles

The Hadès system was a short-range ballistic pre-strategic nuclear weapon system designed by France, as a last warning before use of strategic nuclear weapons, in the perspective of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. It was designed from July 1984 as a replacement for the tactical road-mobile Pluton missile.

The 120 intended Hadès missiles were to be launched from wheeled trailers, each carrying two missiles in containers that acted as launch systems. The original design was a range of 250 km, which was later increased to 480 km. The missile was carried horizontally, erected by the truck itself, and launched immediately. The light weight of the missile made it easy to deploy even on difficult zones, and its great range made it usable for limited strategic aims, though not to destroy Soviet cities and missile silos.

The navigation system was an inertial platform which could be programmed to execute evasive maneuvers before hitting the target. The version of the Hades missile designed to hit solid underground targets also had a final guidance system which used a GPS-based digital system, resulting in a Circular Error Probable of only 5 m. "Regular" versions are likely to have had a CEP of less than 100 metres.

Planning[edit]

Hadès began with project definition in 1975 as a replacement for the Pluton system. Development started in July 1984, and flight testing started in 1988. The Hadès program planned to build 120 missiles, some with nuclear and some with HE warheads. Originally designed with a range of 250 km, the range requirement was later increased to 480 km. In 1991, due to the changing situation in Europe and to the German opposition to the program (which was openly designed to strike East Germany), restrictions were decided upon so as not to deploy the system and limit the complement to 15 mobile launching platforms and 30 missiles. The system entered service in 1992, as a resource kept in storage in case of a serious national threat, in Lunéville. Reports in 1993 suggested that a reversion to the 250 km range missile, but with a hard target HE penetration warhead and a GPS mid-course updating of the inertial navigation system, would provide an accurate and difficult-to-counter offensive weapon. A TV digital scene matching terminal guidance system has also been proposed, providing a CEP down to less than 5m.

Transportation[edit]

Hadès was designed for transportation on wheeled TELs, with tractor and trailer, each trailer carrying two missiles in containers that also act as launch boxes. The missile is reported to be 7.5m long, with a body diameter of 0.53m and a launch weight of about 1850 kg.

Payload & Deployment[edit]

The missiles would be capable of carrying either the nuclear TN-90 or conventional HE warheads, the former probably having a yield of 80 kt. Reports suggest that the Hadès trajectory is kept low, so that the aerodynamic control fins at the rear of the missile can alter the trajectory and range during flight as well as making evasive maneuvres during the terminal phase near the target.

Implementation[edit]

The program completed development in 1992, with the first flight test taking place in 1988. It was planned that Hadès would enter service in 1992, and that only 30 missiles on 15 TEL vehicles would be built instead of the original plan to build 120 missiles. In 1991 the French Government announced that the Hadès missiles would not be deployed, but kept in storage, and the programme was terminated in 1992. However, 20 to 25 missiles were available in a national emergency with their mobile TEL vehicles, and were all located at Lunéville.

Decommissioning[edit]

On 23 February 1996 the announcement by Jacques Chirac, the President of France, on the new format for French nuclear forces called for dismantling of Hadès missiles. On 23 June 1997 the last of the Hadès missiles was destroyed.

External links[edit]