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RIM-2 Terrier

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RIM-2 Terrier
RIM-2 Terrier onboard USS Boston
TypeMedium range surface-to-air missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
Used byUnited States Navy, and others
Production history
ManufacturerConvair - Pomona, California Division
Mass3,000 lb (1,400 kg)
missile: 1,180 lb (540 kg),
booster: 1,820 lb (830 kg)
Length27 ft (8.2 m)
Diameter13.5 in (34 cm)
Warhead218 lb (99 kg) controlled-fragmentation or 1kT W45 nuclear warhead

Enginesolid fuel rocket
Propellantsolid rocket fuel
17.3 nmi (32.0 km)
Flight ceiling80,000 ft (24,000 m)
Maximum 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), among the earliest SAMs to equip United States Navy ships. It underwent significant upgrades while in service, starting with beam-riding guidance with a 10-nautical-mile (19 km) range at a speed of Mach 1.8 and ending as a semi-active radar homing (SARH) system with a range of 40 nmi (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 the base stage for a family of sounding rockets, beginning with the Terrier Malemute.



The Terrier was a development of the Bumblebee Project, the United States 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).[1] It was test launched from USS Mississippi on January 28, 1953, and first deployed operationally on the Boston-class cruisers, Boston[2] and Canberra, in the mid-1950s, with Canberra being the first to achieve operational status on June 15, 1956. Its US Navy designation was SAM-N-7 until 1963, when it was redesignated RIM-2.

For a brief time during the mid-1950s, the United States Marine Corps (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.[3]

Initially, the Terrier used radar beam-riding guidance, forward aerodynamic controls, and a conventional warhead. It had a top speed of Mach 1.8, a range of only 10 nmi (19 km), and was only effective against subsonic targets. Originally, the Terrier had a launch thrust of 23 kN (5,200 lbf) and weight of 1,392 kg (3,069 lb). Its original dimensions were a diameter of 340 mm (13 in), a length of 8.08 m (26.5 ft), and a fin span of 1.59 m (5.2 ft). The cost per missile in 1957 was an estimated $60,000.[4]

Even before it was in widespread service, the Terrier saw 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 an 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,[5] but all other variants used a 218 lb (99 kg) controlled-fragmentation warhead. The Terrier had 2 versions: BT-3(N) and HT-3. Only the BT-3A carried the nuclear warhead, BT-3A(N).

When fired, and after booster separation, its corkscrew contrail progressed to the center of the beam. Reception of its location in the beam was accomplished by a small "Turn-style" antenna at the rear of the missile; this antenna also received the commands for detonation and self-destruct. The self destruct-command was sent a few milliseconds after the detonation command. The HT-3 was a SARH missile; it followed the reflected energy from the target. However, if jamming were encountered, it would passively home in on the jamming signal.

The Belknap class of DLG, redesignated CG, also carried the ASROC (Anti Submarine Rocket), which was launched from the same launcher as the Terrier. The Belknap class had 3 circular magazines in a triangle pattern. The bottom magazine contained the nuclear BT-3A(N) missiles and the Nuclear Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC). This was an additional safety feature in that it involved transferring the Nuclear Missile from the bottom ring to the upper ring and then to the launcher rails, which entailed many moving steps and time, preventing the accidental loading of a Nuclear Missile from one of the top two magazines.[6]

The RIM-2E introduced SARH for greater effectiveness against low-flying targets. The final version, the RIM-2F, used a new motor that doubled effective range to 40 nmi (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, Some ships had extended magazines with 60 or 80 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.

The system was decommissioned in USN service in 1995 and by the last foreign user, the Italian Navy, in 2006.

Combat service


On April 19, 1972, a Terrier missile fired by USS Sterett claimed by US to shot down a North Vietnamese Air Force MiG-17F in the Battle of Dong Hoi.[7]

Research use


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), the Orion, or any of a variety of purpose-built second stages such as Oriole or Malemute. The booster also served as the basis for the MIM-3 Nike Ajax booster, which was slightly larger but otherwise similar, and has also seen widespread use in sounding rockets.

Terrier versions

Designation Early designation Guidance Control surfaces Notes
RIM-2A SAM-N-7 BW-0 Beam-riding Wing control Subsonic targets only
RIM-2B SAM-N-7 BW-1 Beam-riding Wing control Subsonic targets only
RIM-2C SAM-N-7 BT-3 Beam-riding Tail control In service 1958, supersonic targets
RIM-2D SAM-N-7 BT-3A Beam-riding Tail control Doubled range
RIM-2D SAM-N-7 BT-3A(N) Beam-riding Tail control W45 nuclear 1kT yield
RIM-2E SAM-N-7 HT-3 Semi-active radar homing Tail control Introduced semi-active homing
RIM-2F Semi-active radar homing Tail control New rocket motor


 Italian Navy
 Royal Netherlands Navy
 United States Navy
 United States Marine Corps[8]

See also



  1. ^ "Terrier". White Sands Missile Range Historical Foundation Newsletter. 2001-01-13. Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  2. ^ "Navy's First Guided Missile Cruiser Arrived Yesterday; Here Ten Weeks". The Indian. US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 1956-02-04. Retrieved 2022-01-03.
  3. ^ Rockets & Missiles by Bill Gunston, p. 201, Crescent Books 1979, ISBN 0-517-26870-1
  4. ^ "Shell Cost Soars" Popular Mechanics, July 1957, p. 115.
  5. ^ Polmar, Norman (1983). "Tactical Nuclear Weapons". Proceedings. 109 (7). United States Naval Institute: 125.
  6. ^ "Belknap Class Cruisers". Everand. Ships Monthly. 25 August 2023.
  7. ^ Tempest, Mark. "US Navy vs. Cruise Missiles? - the Battle off Dong Hoi". EagleSpeak. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Ordnance For The Fleet Readied At NOTS" (PDF). Naval Aviation News. Washington D.C.: Naval Historical Center. November 1958. Retrieved 2021-12-30.