Alfa Alfa


Italian activities in the field of long range missiles start from November 1957 with the signature of a secret agreement with France and the Federal Republic of Germany dealing with military applications of nuclear energy and common development of a 2,500 km range ballistic missile. This agreement would be renounced in the middle of the following year.
At the same time, the USA started negotiations with Italy in order to install Jupiter missiles on its soil and the Italian Navy decided, as part of its "Programma 1958", to transform the Giuseppe Garibaldi cruiser to a launcher of Polaris missiles. The technical arrangement signed in August 1959 between USA and Italy for the installation of missiles foresaw that the Jupiter would be set in motion by the Italian Air Force but that the nuclear heads would remain under American control. The 36° Aerobrigata Interdizione Strategica was constituted on April 23, 1960 at Gioja della Colle and the two units of 15 missiles each was put in operational service between February and July 1961. In December 1961 ejection tests of Polaris missile models started from the tubes installed aboard the Garibaldi cruiser. The following year, Garibaldi cruiser joined the Norfolk base for a series of tests with the US Navy.

Following the Cuba missile crisis of October 1962, the USA dismantled the Jupiter sites installed in Italy and Turkey and refused to provide Polaris to the Italian Navy. The 36° Aerobrigata Interdizione Strategica was dissolved on June 23, 1963. Jupiter missiles will be replaced by Polaris, but embarked on US submarines.

The Italian Navy does not renounce the possession of a national ballistic missile and were to undertake research in the second half of the 1960s. In 1969, it achieved the launch of a "2-stage vehicle of reduced performance but representative of the definitive missile". The Alfa ballistic missile program, of 1,600 km range, was finally begun in 1971 under the direction of the Gruppo Ricerche Speciali part of the Consiglio tecnico e scientifico Difesa della.
The prime contractor of the project was Aeritalia, responsible of structures and heatshield, with SNIA-BPD for propulsion, Selenia, Laben and Sistel for electronics. Alfa was to be 1.37-m in diameter (as with the Polaris) and 8.6-m long with a take-off mass of about 11 tons. The 3.85-m long first stage, the casing of which was in fiberglass-resin, was equipped with four revolving nozzles. Loaded with 6 t of polybutadiene binder propellant (Rocketdyne license), it delivered a thrust of 232 kN during 57 seconds. On May 2, 1975, Italy ratified the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty and renounced its independent deterrent. The Alfa program was therefore cancelled but 3 flight tests in a single-stage version topped with a dummy 2nd stage were successfully achieved between September 1975 and April 1976.

ALFA launches

08 Sep 1975SDQAlfa 01TechnologyS
23 Oct 1975SDQAlfa 02TechnologyS
06 Apr 1976SDQAlfa 03TechnologyS
Notes: SDQ = Salto di Quirra

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