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Introduction to Blue Streak
Published March 17, 1999 by Royal Aeronautical Society in United Kingdom
This paper is an introduction to a series of talks on Blue Streak. We will emphasize the UK''s technical achievement, with a short digression into some of the management issues. The aim of this series of presentations is to provide a brief account of the history of Blue Streak, starting with its origins, and going through the development of the payload, the missile itself, the rocket motors, and the silo basing, concluding with views on the complexity of the reasons for its cancellation.
Dave Wrigth and Ben Cole, as contemporary historians, have spent several years researching the Blue Streak program. The technology side is presented by figures involved in the engineering. Our knowledge, as will be shown, is very good in parts, but we cannot as yet record the whole story. The engineering design and development of the full-scale launchers, the planning, the operational command infrastructure, the cost, etc., cannot be fully recorded from information to hand. Part of the value of this Symposium is to identify new sources for it, and that is where the reader might be able to help.
The first part of this presentation will concentrate on the Black Knight test vehicle and the key role it played. The following talks will take the story of Blue Streak through to its cancellation.
We have already been presented with the story of the continuing British efforts to exploit manned bombers to still threaten to penetrate Soviet air defenses as they progressively improved, first their air defense capabilities, and then deployed ever larger numbers of increasingly capable surface-to-air missiles. The RAF was reequipped with higher yield, lower weight nuclear weapons, requiring fewer numbers, but still had to turn to low level attack, and stand off weapons such as Blue Steel, to achieve their own confidence in penetrating. The strong interest in long-range ballistic missiles to fulfill the deterrent role was therefore self-evident, and thus it led to Blue Streak.