By Cliff Lethbridge

Pershing IA Launch, Photo Courtesy U.S. Army

Pershing IA Launch, Photo Courtesy U.S. Army

Classification: Medium-Range Ballistic Missile

Length: 34 feet, 10 inches

Diameter: 3 feet, 4 inches

Finspan: 5 feet, 9 inches

Range: 460 miles

Date of First Cape Canaveral Launch: February 21, 1973

Date of Final Cape Canaveral Launch: October 13, 1983

Number of Cape Canaveral Launches: 100

In 1967, production of the Pershing I was switched to the Pershing IA. The Pershing IA was essentially the same missile matched to a more streamlined set of support vehicles. The primary improvement was the inclusion of the missile and its warhead in the same vehicle. In addition, the Pershing IA and its support vehicles could be transported aboard U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft, which improved the speed and efficiency of deployment. The Pershing IA remained unchanged until 1976, when European-based missiles were equipped with an Automatic Azimuth Reference System and Sequential Launch Adapter. These devices allowed one field commander to automatically launch three missiles in sequence. Launches could be conducted with only a brief delay, even from previously unsurveyed launch sites. Pershing IA production ceased in 1971 with the development of the vastly improved Pershing II.