Defense: Two for the Arsenal

In a near-flawless display of precision rocketry, the U.S. last week added two formidable new weapons systems to its nuclear arsenal. The Navy's fleet ballistic missile Poseidon and the Air Force's powerful Minuteman III ICBM, both on their maiden tests, winged like homing pigeons to their targets from two launching areas at Cape Kennedy. Their dual success was remarkable, but what distinguished the solid-fuel missiles even more was their potential. Each is designed to carry Multiple Individually-Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV), comprising as many as ten separate nuclear warheads ticketed for preselected targets.

The 38-ton, two-stage Poseidon was first to lift off,...

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