In September 1961, the Strategic Air Command issued a requirement for a UHF Emergency Rocket Communications System. In the event of nuclear war this was to provide a reliable and survivable communications link between command posts and missile launch control centers. The ERCS UHF transmitters carried prerecorded force execution messages that were transmitted to all units within line of sight of the rocket's apogee.
Air Force Program 279L initiated deployment of an interim ERCS capability on Ford Aeronutronics Blue Scout Junior rockets. The first launch occurred on 31 May 1962 and the system was declared operational in July 1963, with rockets based at three locations in Nebraska under the designation MER-6A. The operational ERCS used modified silo-based Minuteman II ICBMs as carriers. The Minuteman ERCS became operational in October 1967, and by December 1967 the MER-6A was withdrawn from service.
Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch
Ford MER-6 Blue Scout ERCS
In September 1961, the Strategic Air Command of the USAF issued a requirement for a rocket-borne UHF communication system in defense emergencies when conventional communication links were disrupted. This system, called ERCS (Emergency Rocket Communications System), was to provide a reliable and survivable connectivity between command posts and launch control centers. The ERCS UHF transmitters carried prerecorded force execution messages that were transmitted to all units within line of sight of a rocket's apogee.
Air Force Program 279L was initiated for deployment of an interim ERCS capability on Ford Aeronutronics XRM-91 Blue Scout Junior rockets. The XRM-91 was a four-stage rocket based on LTV's Scout family of launch vehicles, which first flew on 21 September 1960. Blue Scout Junior rockets and other Scout derivatives were used as launch vehicles by the USAF throughout the 1960s and 1970s under the basic designation of SLV-1 Scout.
The first launch of a Blue Scout Junior rocket equipped with an ERCS occurred on 31 May 1962. In July 1963, the Blue Scout Junior ERCS was declared operational, with rockets based at three locations in Nebraska. Shortly before, in June 1963, the ERCS-equipped Blue Scout Junior had received the designation MER-6A.
The ultimate ERCS used modified LGM-30F Minuteman II missiles as carrier vehicles. The Minuteman ERCS became operational in October 1967, and in December 1967 the MER-6A rockets had been withdrawn from service. The Minuteman ERCS remained operational until the early 1990s.Specifications
Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!
Data for XRM-91 (MER-6A was similar):
|Length||12.34 m (40 ft 5.8 in)|
|Finspan||1st stage: 2.62 m (8 ft 7 in)|
2nd stage: 1.64 m (5 ft 4.6 in)
|Diameter||0.79 m (31 in)|
|Weight||6300 kg (14000 lb)|
|Speed||6 km-s (20000 ft-s)|
|Altitude||160000+ km (100000+ miles)|
|Range||global (low earth orbit reachable)|
|Propulsion||1st stage: Thiokol XM33 Castor solid-fuel rocket; 244 kN (55000 lb) for 25 s|
2nd stage: Alleghany Ballistics Lab (Hercules) X-254 Antares solid-fuel rocket; 60 kN (13600 lb) for 39 s
3rd stage: Aerojet AJ10-41 (30KS8000) Alcor solid-fuel rocket; 36 kN (8000 lb) for 30 s
4th stage: NOTS 100A Cetus solid-fuel rocket; 4.0 kN (900 lb) for 45 s
 Federation of American Scientists Website
 Peter Alway: "Rockets of the World, 2000 Supplement", Saturn Press, 2000
AKA: MER-6; Blue Scout ERCS.