RIM-2 Terrier

RIM-2 Terrier

RIM-2 Terrier on board USS Boston (CAG-1)
Type Medium Range Surface-to-air missile
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by United States Navy, and others.
Production history
Manufacturer Convair - Pomona, California Division
Weight 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg)
missile: 1,180 pounds (540 kg),
booster: 1,820 pounds (830 kg)
Length 27 feet (8.2 m)
Diameter 13.5 inches (34 cm)
Warhead 218 pounds (99 kg) controlled-fragmentation or 1kT W45 nuclear warhead

Engine solid fuel rocket
Propellant solid rocket fuel
17.3 nautical miles (32.0 km)
Flight ceiling 80,000 feet (24,000 m)
Speed Mach 3.0
Semi-active radar homing
Surface ship

The Convair RIM-2 Terrier was a two-stage medium-range naval surface-to-air missile (SAM), and was among the earliest surface-to-air missiles to equip United States Navy ships. It underwent significant upgrades while in service, starting with a beam-riding system with 10 nautical miles (19 km) range at a speed of Mach 1.8, and ending as a semi-active radar homing system with a range of 40 nautical miles (74 km) at speeds as high as Mach 3. It was replaced in service by the RIM-67 Standard ER (SM-1ER).

Terrier has also been used as a sounding rocket.


The Terrier was a development of the Bumblebee Project, the Navy's effort to develop a surface-to-air missile to provide a middle layer of defense against air attack (between carrier fighters and antiaircraft guns). It was test launched from USS Mississippi (AG-128) ex (BB-41) on January 28, 1953, and first deployed operationally on the Boston-class cruisers, USS Boston (CAG-1) and USS Canberra (CAG-2) in the mid-1950s, with Canberra being the first to achieve operational status June 15, 1956. Its US Navy designation was SAM-N-7 until 1963 when it was re-designated RIM-2.

For a brief time during the mid-1950s the USMC had two Terrier battalions equipped with specially modified twin sea launchers for land use that fired the SAM-N-7. The Terrier was the first surface-to-air missile operational with the USMC. The launchers were reloaded by a special vehicle that carried two Terrier reloads. [1]

Initially, the Terrier used radar beam-riding guidance, forward aerodynamic controls, and a conventional warhead. It had a top speed of only Mach 1.8, a range of only 10 nautical miles (19 km), and was only useful against subsonic targets. Originally, the Terrier had a launch thrust of 23 kN (5,200 lbf), and weight of 1,392 kilograms (3,069 lb). Its original dimensions were a diameter of 340 mm, a length of 8.08 m, and a fin span of 1.59 m. Cost per missile in 1957 was an estimated $60,000. [2]

Before it was even in widespread service it was seeing major improvements. The RIM-2C, named the Terrier BT-3 (Beam-riding, Tail control, series 3) was introduced in 1958. The forward control fins were replaced with fixed strakes, and the tail became the control surface. The BT-3 also had a new motor, and featured extended range, Mach 3 speed, and better maneuverability. The RIM-2D Terrier BT-3A(N) entered service in 1962 with a W30 1kt nuclear warhead,[3] but all other variants used a 218 lb (99 kg) controlled-fragmentation warhead.

The RIM-2E introduced semi-active radar homing, for greater effectiveness against low-flying targets. The final version, the RIM-2F, used a new motor which doubled effective range to 40 nautical miles (74 km).

The Terrier was the primary missile system of most US Navy cruisers and guided missile frigates built during the 1960s. It could be installed on much smaller ships than the much larger and longer-ranged RIM-8 Talos. A Terrier installation typically consisted of the Mk 10 twin-arm launcher with a 40-round rear-loading magazine, but some ships had extended magazines with 80 or 120 rounds, and the installation in Boston and Canberra used a bottom-loading magazine of 72 rounds.

The French Navy's Masurca missile was developed with some technology provided by the USN from Terrier.

The Terrier was replaced by the extended range RIM-67 Standard missile. The RIM-67 offered the range of the much larger RIM-8 Talos in a missile the size of the Terrier.

Terrier has also been used, typically as a first stage in a sounding rocket, for conducting high-altitude research. The Terrier can be equipped with various upper stages, like the Asp, the TE-416 Tomahawk (not to be confused with the similarly named BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile) or the Orion. The booster also served as the basis for the MIM-3 Nike Ajax booster, which was slightly larger but otherwise similar, which has also seen widespread use in sounding rockets.

Combat Service

On April 19, 1972, a Terrier missile fired by the USS Sterett shot down a North Vietnamese Air Force MiG-17F in the Battle of Dong Hoi.[4]

Terrier versions

Designation Early designation Control surfaces Guidance Notes
RIM-2A BW-0 Wing control Beam-riding Subsonic targets only
RIM-2B BW-1 Wing control Beam-riding Subsonic targets only
RIM-2C BT-3 Tail control Beam-riding In service 1958, supersonic targets
RIM-2D BT-3A(N) Tail control Beam-riding W45 nuclear 1kT yield
RIM-2E HT-3 Tail control Semi-active radar homing Introduced semi-active homing
RIM-2F Tail control Semi-active radar homing New rocket motor


 Marina Militare
 Royal Netherlands Navy
 United States Navy

See also


  1. Rockets & Missiles by Bill Gunston, p. 201, Crescent Books 1979, ISBN 0-517-26870-1
  2. "Shell Cost Soars" Popular Mechanics, July 1957, p. 115.
  3. Polmar, Norman (1983). "Tactical Nuclear Weapons". Proceedings. United States Naval Institute. 109 (7): 125.
  4. Tempest, Mark. "US Navy vs. Cruise Missiles? - the Battle off Dong Hoi". EagleSpeak. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
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