RIM-8 Talos

RIM-8 Talos

RIM-8G Talos missile.
Type Surface-to-air missile
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service Withdrawn from service 1980
Used by United States Navy
Production history
Manufacturer Bendix
Produced 1958
Weight 7,800 lb (3,538 kg) (missile: 3,400 lb (1,542 kg), booster: 4,400 lb (1,996 kg)
Length 38ft (11.6 metres)
Diameter 28 in (0.7 metres)
Warhead 136 kg (300 lb) continuous-rod HE warhead or W30 nuclear warhead (2–5 kt)

Engine Bendix ramjet sustainer,
Stage1: MK 11 solid-fueled rocket booster,
Stage2: Bendix ramjet sustainer
20,053lbf, 89.20kN
Wingspan 2.80 m (110 in)
185 km (100 nm); RIM-8A: 92 km (50 nm)
Flight ceiling 24,400 m (80,000 ft)
Speed Mach 2.5
Radar beam riding and (non-nuclear variants) semi-active radar homing
Surface Ship

The Bendix RIM-8 Talos was a long-range naval surface-to-air missile, and was among the earliest surface-to-air missiles to equip United States Navy ships. The Talos used radar beam riding for guidance to the vicinity of its target, and semiactive radar homing (SARH) for terminal guidance. The array of four antenna which surround the nose are SARH receivers which functioned as a continuous wave interferometer. Initial thrust was provided by a solid rocket booster for launch and a Bendix ramjet for flight to the target with the warhead serving as the ramjet's compressor.

Last Talos missile launched by USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5) in 1979.


Talos was the end product of Operation Bumblebee, the Navy's 16-year surface-to-air missile development program for protection against guided anti-ship missiles like Henschel Hs 293 glide bombs, Fritz X, and kamikaze aircraft.[1] The Talos was the primary effort behind the Bumblebee project, but was not the first missile the program developed; the RIM-2 Terrier was the first to enter service. The Talos was originally designated SAM-N-6, and was redesignated RIM-8 in 1963. The airframe structure was manufactured by McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis; final assembly was by Bendix Missile Systems in Mishawaka, Indiana.

The Talos saw relatively limited use due to its large size and dual radar antenna system; there were few ships that could accommodate the large missiles with the AN/SPW-2 missile guidance radar and the AN/SPG-49 target illumination and tracking radar.[2] The 11.6-meter-long, 3½-tonne missile was similar in size to a fighter aircraft.[3] The Talos Mark 7 launcher system was installed in three Galveston-class cruisers (converted Cleveland class light cruisers) with 14 missiles in a ready-service magazine and up to 30 unmated missiles and boosters in a storage area above the main deck. Nuclear-powered USS Long Beach and three Albany-class cruisers (converted Baltimore class heavy cruisers) carried Mark 12 launchers fed from behind by a 46-round magazine below the main deck.

The initial SAM-N-6b/RIM-8A had an effective range of about 50 nm, and a conventional warhead. The SAM-N-6bW/RIM-8B was a RIM-8A with a nuclear warhead; terminal guidance was judged unnecessary for a nuclear warhead, so the SARH antenna were omitted. The SAM-N-6b1/RIM-8C was introduced in 1960 and had nearly double the range, and a more effective conventional continuous-rod warhead. The RIM-8D was the nuclear-warhead version of the -8C. The SAM-N-6c/RIM-8E "Unified Talos" had a warhead that could be swapped while embarked, eliminating the need to waste magazine capacity carrying dedicated nuclear warhead variants. The RIM-8E also carried an improved continuous-wave terminal homing seeker, and had a higher ceiling. Some RIM-8Cs were retrofitted with the new seeker, and designated RIM-8F. The RIM-8G and RIM-8J had further radar homing improvements.

The surface-to-air versions also saw action in Vietnam, a total of three MiGs being shot down by Chicago and Long Beach. On May 23, 1968, a Talos fired from the USS Long Beach shot down a Vietnamese MiG at a range of about 65 miles. This was the first downing of a hostile aircraft by a missile fired from a ship. The hit also destroyed a second MiG which flew through the debris. In September 1968 Long Beach scored another MiG destroyed at a range of 61 miles. On May 9, 1972 the USS Chicago forward Talos battery scored a long-range kill on a MiG. [4] The Talos missile also had surface-to-surface capabilities.[5]

The RIM-8H Talos-ARM was a dedicated anti-radar homing missile for use against shore-based radar stations. Initial testing of the RIM-8H was performed in 1965, and soon after it was deployed in Vietnam on Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Long Beach, attacking North Vietnamese SAM radars.


Development and prototype missiles; pre-1962 US Navy designation of the Talos missile.
Development and prototype missiles; pre-1962 US Navy designation of the Talos missile.
Production missiles deployed with conventional explosive warheads; re-designated RIM-8A.
The -6b missile with nuclear warhead, omitting terminal guidance and SARH antennae; re-designated RIM-8B.
An improved -6b with much greater range and continuous rod conventional warhead; re-designated RIM-8C.
"Unified Talos" with interchangeable nuclear / conventional warheads eliminating the need for storage of both missile types, also fitted with improved terminal homing and higher operating ceiling; re-designated RIM-8E.
RIM-8F Talos
Some RIM-8C missiles retro-fitted with the new seeker from the RIM-8E (post 1962 only).
RIM-8G Talos
Variant with further homing improvements.
RIM-8H Talos-ARM
A dedicated surface-to-surface anti-radar homing version for deployment on ships already fitted out for the Talos SAM.
RIM-8J Talos
Variant with further homing improvements.
MQM-8G Vandal
Talos missiles remaining after removal from active service were converted to super-sonic drone targets, with the inventory being exhausted circa 2008.


Date Fleet inventory Ship Event
28 May 1958 1×Mk 7 launcher with 2×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Galveston commissioned as CLG-3
3 June 1960 2×Mk 7 launchers with 4×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Little Rock commissioned as CLG-4
7 September 1960 3×Mk 7 launchers with 6×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Oklahoma City commissioned as CLG-5
9 September 1961 3×Mk 7 & 1×Mk 12 launchers with 8×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Long Beach commissioned as CGN-9
3 November 1962 3×Mk 7 & 3×Mk 12 launchers with 12×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Albany commissioned as CG-10
1 December 1962[6] 3×Mk 7 & 5×Mk 12 launchers with 16×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Columbus commissioned as CG-12
2 May 1964 3×Mk 7 & 7×Mk 12 launchers with 20×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Chicago commissioned as CG-11
25 May 1970[7] 2×Mk 7 & 7×Mk 12 launchers with 18×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Galveston decommissioned
31 January 1975[6] 2×Mk 7 & 5×Mk 12 launchers with 14×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Columbus decommissioned
22 November 1976[8] 1×Mk 7 & 5×Mk 12 launchers with 12×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Little Rock decommissioned
1978 1×Mk 7 & 4×Mk 12 launchers with 10×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Long Beach Talos system removed
1 November 1979 4×Mk 12 launchers with 8×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Oklahoma City Last Talos fired
15 December 1979 4×Mk 12 launchers with 8×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Oklahoma City decommissioned
1 March 1980 2×Mk 12 launchers with 4×AN/SPG-49 RADAR Chicago decommissioned
29 August 1980 Albany decommissioned


Talos was phased out of fleet service in 1976, though the ships carrying the system soldiered on a few more years with the launchers left in place until they (Albany-class, and Oklahoma City) were retired in 1980, after Long Beach had her Talos launcher removed in 1978. After 22 years of fleet service, the missile was replaced by the RIM-67 Standard missile, which was fired from the smaller Mk10 launcher.

A Talos missile is displayed in the atrium of the South Bend Regional Airport (historically known as Bendix Field).

Another example can be seen at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, located at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

A Talos Missile can also be seen on display at the Muskogee War Memorial Park located in Muskogee, OK.

See also


  1. "A Brief History of White Sands Proving Ground 1941-1965" (PDF). New Mexico State University. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  2. Polmar, Norman (December 1978). "The U.S.Navy: Shipboard Radars". United States Naval Institute Proceedings.
  3. The contemporary Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter was 10.1 meters long and weighted 5 tonnes.
  5. "USS Oklahoma City - Talos Missile Firing Operations". Retrieved 2014-05-23.
  6. 1 2 "Welcome Aboard". USS Columbus Veterans Association. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  7. "Chronology - U.S.S. Galveston CL-93 / CLG-3". USS Galveston Shipmates Association. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  8. "A Brief History of the USS Little Rock". USS Little Rock Association. Retrieved 2010-08-27.


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