ERCS System

Allied Signal Emergency Rocket Communication System

In September 1961 the Strategic Air Command (SAC) began development of an Emergency Rocket Communications System (ERCS) in order to improve its ability to transmit command and control messages to its manned bomber forces during wartime emergencies. The ERCS, produced by Allied Signal Aerospace Communications Systems, would be launched atop several dedicated Minuteman II missiles and was designed to separate from them at the highest point in their trajectories. The ERCS contained two UHF transmitters that would then automatically broadcast prerecorded coded force execution messages to all SAC units within line of sight of the package.

The first successful test launch of the ERCS was made on May 31, 1962 from Vandenberg AFB, California, aboard a Vought Blue Scout Junior launch vehicle. After further development and testing, SAC declared three ERCS Blue Scout Junior launch sites in Nebraska operational on July 11, 1963 as a stopgap measure. The following month the Ogden Air Materiel Area at Hill AFB was made the System Support Manager for the ERCS.

The Emergency Rocket Communications System finally became fully operational in late 1967 when the system was installed in place of the nuclear warheads on ten Minuteman II missiles in Missouri. The temporary ERCS Blue Scout Junior launch sites in Nebraska were then inactivated. The ERCS was operational until 1991.