Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2003 Andreas Parsch


After the SAM-A-19 Plato anti-missile project had been cancelled in February 1959, the U.S. Army had to look for a replacement because the need to defend the field troops against ballistic missile attacks hadn't vanished. In September that year, the FABMDS (Field Army Ballistic Missile Defense System) program was started.

To properly define the future FABMDS, the Army first conducted an in-house study through May 1960. The resulting requirements included a fully mobile anti-aircraft/anti-missile system, with the ability to engage at least four targets simultaneously with a >95% kill probability against a ballistic missile. The Army then requested proposals for an FABMDS from the defense industry, and a total of 17 proposals were received by July 1960. In September that year, feasibility study contracts were awarded to Convair, General Electric, Martin, Hughes, Sylvania Electric and Raytheon. The results of the studies were reviewed from July to September 1961, and General Electric's system design was eventually judged best.

The General Electric FABMDS was a relatively large and heavy system. It sacrificed some mobility by offering defense against the widest possible range of threats, including ballistic missiles with a range from 90-1500 km (55-930 miles). No details about the planned guidance and control system are available, but it was most probably some combination of semi-active radar and/or radio-command guidance. The FABMDS missile would have been armed with a nuclear warhead, placing obvious restrictions on minimum altitude and range.

Image: U.S. Army
FABMDS missile (General Electric design)

DOD authorities eventually concluded that the limited defense promised by the proposed FABMDS using then state-of-the-art technology did not warrant the high development time and cost. No FABMDS development contract was therefore issued to General Electric, and the program was formally cancelled in October 1962. Although FABMDS itself was cancelled, it was immediately replaced by a new program labelled AADS-70 (Army Air-Defense System - 1970) - in fact, AADS-70 was effectively a continuation of FABMDS under a different name. In 1964, AADS-70 was renamed SAM-D (Surface-to-Air Missile - Development), a program which eventually resulted in the development of the MIM-104 Patriot.


Data for FABMDS missile (General Electric design):

Length6.1 m (20 ft)
Wingspan1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)
Diameter56 cm (22 in)
Ceiling36600 m (120000 ft)
PropulsionSolid-fueled rocket

Main Sources

[1] Redstone Arsenal Historical Information Website

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 13 June 2003