Bendix MQM-8G "Vandal"
United States — USN surface-to-air supersonic target

Archive Photos

Bendix MQM-8G "Vandal" at the 2000 NAS Point Mugu Airshow


The Bendix RIM-8 Talos was a long-range naval surface-to-air missile, and was among the earliest surface-to-air missiles to equip United States Navy ships. The Talos used radar beam riding for guidance to the vicinity of its target, and semi-active radar homing (SARH) for terminal guidance. The characteristic array of four antennas surrounding the nose are the SARH receivers which functioned as a continuous wave interferometer. Thrust was provided by a solid rocket booster for initial launch and a Bendix ramjet for flight to target with the warhead doubling as the ramjet’s compressor.


The Talos was a development of the Bumblebee Project, the Navy’s effort to develop a surface-to-air missile to provide an extra layer of aircraft defense. The Talos was the primary effort behind the Bumblebee project, but was not the first missile the program developed; the RIM-2 Terrier was the first to enter service. The Talos was originally designated SAM-N-6, and was redesignated RIM-8 in 1963.

The Talos saw relatively limited use due to its large size; there were few ships that could accommodate the system. Indeed, the 11.6-meter-long, 3½-tonne missile was similar in size to the contemporary Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter (10.1 meters long and 5 tonnes loaded weight). The Talos was launched from the Mk 12 twin-arm launcher, which was fed from behind by a 46-round below main deck magazine. The Talos system was installed in three converted Cleveland class light cruisers (USS Oklahoma City, Galveston, and Little Rock) (which used the Mark 7 Launching System which had 14 birds in a ready-service magazine and up to 30 unmated missiles and boosters in a storage area all above main deck), the converted Baltimore class heavy cruisers Albany, Chicago, Columbus and the nuclear-powered USS Long Beach.

The initial SAM-N-6b/RIM-8A had an effective range of about 50 nm, and a conventional warhead. The SAM-N-6bW/RIM-8B was a RIM-8A with a nuclear warhead; terminal guidance was judged unnecessary for a nuclear warhead, so the SARH antenna were omitted. The SAM-N-6b1/RIM-8C was introduced in 1960 and had nearly double the range, and a more lethal conventional warhead. The RIM-8D was the nuclear-warhead version of the -8C. The SAM-N-6c/RIM-8E "Unified Talos" had a warhead that could be swapped while embarked, eliminating the need to waste magazine capacity carrying dedicated nuclear warhead variants. The RIM-8E also carried an improved continuous-wave terminal homing seeker, and had a higher ceiling. Some RIM-8Cs were retrofitted with the new seeker, and designated RIM-8F. The RIM-8G and RIM-8J had further radar homing improvements. The RIM-8H Talos-ARM was a dedicated anti-radar homing missile for use against shore-based radar stations. Initial testing of the RIM-8H was performed in 1965, and soon after it was deployed in Vietnam on Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Long Beach, attacking North Vietnamese SAM radars. The surface-to-air versions also saw action in Vietnam, a total of three MiGs being shot down by Chicago and Long Beach. The Talos missile also had surface-to-surface capabilities.


The Talos was slowly phased out of service as ships with the Mk.12 launcher were retired. The last Talos-equipped ship other than Long Beach was retired in 1979, and Long Beach had her Talos launcher removed in 1978. The missile was replaced by the RIM-67 Standard missile which was fired from the smaller Mk10 launcher.

The missiles remaining in the Navy inventory were converted to a high tech supersonic target missile, the MQM-8G "Vandal." The inventory was exhausted ca. 2005.

Bendix RIM-8 "Talos" Specifications



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