The automobile company with the most American of origin stories is way more ‘Merica than you might think. Ford, as a brand, is so well-known for making cars and trucks that it might surprise you to know it also pumped out nuclear weapons and heat-seeking missiles at one point.
Ford Aerospace was established in 1956 and operated until sold in 1990. In that time, it designed and produced some of the Cold War’s most recognizable weapons, laser targeting pods, and even an attempt at a stealthy air-to-air missile.
Here’s what you didn’t know Ford built:
4. AIM-9 Sidewinder Missile
Sure, it was in Top Gun and Independence Day, but once a missile has been featured on The Simpsons, you know it’s made pop-culture history.
The Sidewinder has more than 270 kills over its 60-plus year history and is scheduled to be in service until at least 2055. That’s built Ford tough. Not bad for a weapon that debuted in 1958!
3. LGM-30G Minuteman
First developed in 1962, the LGM-30G is the only land-based intercontinental ballistic missile still in service to the United States. It was the first multiple re-entry vehicle ICBM, which means it releases three warheads with one missile.
The United States has just under 400 Minuteman III missiles in its arsenal and is a component of the U.S. “nuclear triad.”
2. Trident SLBM
The second component of the American nuclear triad is the submarine-launched Trident missile. Currently in its second life, the Trident missile was first developed in 1971 and is planned to serve until at least 2040.
1. LGM-118 Peacekeeper
The Peacekeeper earned its name because its mission was designed to be a major deterrent to a Soviet sneak attack. It was designed to target individual missile silos, to retarget in-flight, and to survive a first strike.
Because the Peacekeeper could launch an astonishing 12 warheads on one ICBM, it was given up by the U.S. in the Start II Treaty and disappeared from service in 2005. It reappeared as the Minotaur IV rocket, sending satellites into orbit.