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Project Emily: Thor IRBM and the RAF

by John Boyes

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This is a history of the period from 1959 to 1963 when RAF bomber command operated 60 Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles as part of the UK nuclear deterrent force. In 1956, the US approached the UK to explore the possibility of basing IRBMs on UK soil amid growing concerns over Soviet missiles. Keen to reestablish a relationship which had suffered after Suez, Macmillan and Eisenhower met in Bermuda and seeds were sown for the RAF to become sole operator of 20 squadrons with 3 missiles each. However, once their own bases were established in continental America the US considered the IRBM obsolete and it was decided to draw down the Thor force in 1962, 5 years earlier than originally planned. Though 59 of the 60 missiles were brought to operational readiness during the Cuban Missile Crisis and despite acknowledgement of their efficiency at that time, the squadrons were disbanded by summer 1963 and subsequent UK plans for a follow-on program were also scrapped.… (more)
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This is a history of the period from 1959 to 1963 when RAF bomber command operated 60 Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles as part of the UK nuclear deterrent force. In 1956, the US approached the UK to explore the possibility of basing IRBMs on UK soil amid growing concerns over Soviet missiles. Keen to reestablish a relationship which had suffered after Suez, Macmillan and Eisenhower met in Bermuda and seeds were sown for the RAF to become sole operator of 20 squadrons with 3 missiles each. However, once their own bases were established in continental America the US considered the IRBM obsolete and it was decided to draw down the Thor force in 1962, 5 years earlier than originally planned. Though 59 of the 60 missiles were brought to operational readiness during the Cuban Missile Crisis and despite acknowledgement of their efficiency at that time, the squadrons were disbanded by summer 1963 and subsequent UK plans for a follow-on program were also scrapped.

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