A Little Background

During the Cold War the U.S. military constructed 16 Nike Missile sites around the Los Angeles area. The first one was operational in 1950 and the last one was decommissioned in 1974. Today little remains of this interesting part of L.A. defense history. Below are the 16 missile sites and a summary of what they had.

The Sites

List Notations

Abbreviations: AN- Army/Navy major piece of equipment, ADA- Air Defense Artillery, BDE- Brigade, Gp-Group, HQ- headquarters, HHB-Headquarters battery, Bn-Battalion, CAARNG- California Army National Guard.

Battery Integrated Fire Control (IFC): Individual Nike-Ajax battery control radar equipment consisted of TTR- target tracking radar, MTR- missile tracking radar and ACQR- acquisition radar, were located at all batteries. Conversion of Ajax batteries to Hercules batteries added TRR-Target Ranging Radar and a newer version of the old ACQR designated LOPAR (low power acquisition radar). Improved Hercules systems added one of the following new radar systems: HIPAR- high power acquisition radar or ABAR-Alternate battery acquisition radar, which may have been of several types including; AN/FPS-75 (with modifications) issued in place of HIPAR, AN/FPS-71 and AN/FPA-16 (which integrates FPS-71 with LOPAR), or AN/FPS-69. The different ACQRs are noted in the table.

Army Air Defense Command Posts (AADCP): AADCP had additional equipment for battery control to prevent multiple batteries from firing on the same target. Los Angeles received a Missile Master unit (AN/FSG-1) in 1960 which was later replaced by a Missile Mentor Fire Command and Control Integration Unit (AN/TSQ-51) in 1966-67. Los Angeles also had an AN/FPS-27 (FAA) radar which was a high powered search radar operated by the FAA and the USAF and connected to the AADCP. The AN/FPS-27 was supplemented with a AN/FPS-6, a long ranged high power height finding radar. These radar sets were used to help discern possible targets before they were in range of the nike batteries. The Backup Control Center at Chatsworth consisted of a Secondary Master Fire Unit (SMFU) which was an alternate command post and a Remote Radar Integration Station (RRIS) which provided gap filler radar information to the Missile Mentor.

Site Designations: "IFC" denotes a battery integrated fire control facility, "L" denotes a battery launch facility, "R" denotes a radar facility, "H" denotes a headquarters facility, " A" denotes an Administration site. All launch sites listed had Ajax missiles. Only those noted as being "converted" had Hercules missiles and the appropriate acquisition radar (either HIPAR or ABAR). The heading for each battery site contains the following information: Defense area site number, location, year site activated, (year site converted to Hercules), year site deactivated, number and types (A, B or C) of launch pits, type of acquisition radar (ACQR designations for all Ajax only sites, additional HIPAR or ABAR designations for the converted Hercules sites).

LA-04 Mt. Gleason (Palmdale-Pasadena)/1954-(1959)-1974/1B, 2C/HIPAR
IFC-Located in the Angeles National Forest, 9.8 miles west of the Mill Creek Forest Station.
L&A-Located in the Angeles National Forest, 6.8 miles west of the Mill Creek Forest Station.
Both sites are currently used as correctional Facilities by Los Angeles County. The launch site magazines have been destroyed, but nearly all the other buildings remain.

LA-09 Barley Flats-Mt. Disappointment/1955-1961/1B, 2C/ACQR
IFC-Mt. Disappointment, at end of fire road L&A-Located in the Angeles National Forest, 2 miles North of Angeles Crest Highway at Barley Flats. Launch site magazines have been destroyed, the site is currently utilized by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Dept. The Admin buildings remain in good shape. They were used as a probation camp until 1992. IFC site is currently used as a radio relay station, a couple of buildings and radar pads remain.

LA-14 El Monte (Whittier Narrows)/1956-1959/2B/ACQR
IFC-3600 Workman Mill Road. Located on the hill above the present Rio Hondo Police Academy.
L&A-Located at 1200/1201 Potereo Road. The Admin site is currently a U.S. Army Reserve Center. The Launch area is located across Potereo Rd in Whittier Narrows Park (west of the tennis center) and is used as a County work yard. The IFC site has been destroyed and is now a radar relay station.

LA-29 Brea (Puente Hills)/1955-(1961)-1971/1B, 2C/ABAR
IFC-Located in the Puente Hills 5 miles up Site Drive off Central Avenue. L&A-Located in the Puente Hills approximately 5 miles up Site Drive off Central Avenue. This battery had an AN/FPS-71 and an AN/FPA-16 ABAR unit. These sites are currently Shell oil fields and are largely destroyed or buried.

LA-32 Stanton (Garden Grove)/1956-(1958)-1974/2B /HIPAR
IFC-Located at the corner of Katella (Peterson?) and Knott in the city of Stanton. L&A-Located at the corner of Knott and Chapman in Garden Grove. 11751 Western Ave. This site was evidently constructed for the protection of the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station located just west of the Site LA32 complex. IFC site destroyed, L&A site used by CAARNG.

Fountain Valley/1956-1957/Temp site
IFC-Located at Santa Ana Army Air Base (now John Wayne Airport). L&A-Located at Santa Ana Army Air Base

RP-39 San Pedro Hill AFS (Z-39)/1950-1980/USAF-FAA
R-Located on San Pedro Hill off Crest Road. This was a radar site only. This was a gap filler radar for Site LA-78Cand a NORAD radar site with an AN/FPS-27 unit. It was manned by both Army personnel and USAF 670th RS unit. This site still has a number of functioning radars used by the FAA and the Weather Service.
LA-40 Long Beach Airport (Lakewood)/1958-1963/1B, 2C/ACQR
IFC-Located at the Southwest corner of Spring and Clark Street at the Long Beach Airport.
L&A-Located at the Southwest corner of the Long Beach Airport, near the intersection of Spring and Kilroy Airport Way. The IFC site has been destroyed for a hotel development. The Launch site was used for a number of years as an emergency communications facility for Long Beach city departments. It was recently destroyed during the construction of the Kilroy office complex. The Admin area remains in use by the CAARNG, but is scheduled for development.

LA-41 Long Beach (Signal Hill)/1959-1974/HQ
H-Located at 2200 Redondo Road. The site was the HHB for the 4th Brigade of the 251st ADA (CNG). Now it is used by the California Army National Guard 240th Signal Battalion, and for the Support Facilities of the 40th Division.

LA-43 Ft. MacArthur-White Point/1956-(1961)-1974/2B/HIPAR
IFC-Constructed on top of Battery Leary-Merriam on the Fort MacArthur Upper Reservation.
L&A-The facility is located directly below Battery No. 127. The Admin area was built in 1963.
The HIPAR power room with its commanding view of the Los Angeles Harbor at the IFC site, has been converted for use by the Marine Exchange. The generator and the operations control buildings are being utilized by the Angels Gate Cultural Center as artist studios. The various tower pads are in a state of general disrepair, but all are present except the HIPAR tower. The launch area at White Point is currently abandoned and sealed shut, the buildings remain but have been heavily vandalized. The administrative area was destroyed some years ago and the area developed for USAF housing.

LA-45 Fort MacArthur/1952-1974/AADCP
H-located on Pacific Ave. between 22nd St and 36th St. in San Pedro. The site contained the HQs for the Los Angeles Defense Area- the 47th ADA BDE (1952-1969), the 108th AD Group (1956-58) and later the19th ADA Group (1969-1974). It was also the site of the HHB of the 3rd battalion of the 57th ADA and after 1968, the HHB of the 1st battalion of the 56th ADA. It was the location of the area's Missile Master (AN/FSG-1), and Missile Mentor (AN/TSQ-51) command centers and was connected to the NORAD communication net which had an AN/FPS-27 (FAA) radar unit and two AN/FPS-6 radar units. The site is now owned by the USAF. The Nike Headquarters Building 550 has been demolished.

LA-55 Palos Verdes-Pt. Vincente/1956-(1958)-1974/2B/ABAR
IFC-Located at the southeast corner of Crenshaw and Seacrest Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes.
L&A-Located between Hawthorne and Palos Verdes Drive, southeast of the Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall. This battery had an AN/FPS-71 and an AN/FPA-16 ABAR radar unit. The IFC site has been destroyed and is now Del Cerro Park. The launch site is now the maintenance yard for the city of Rancho Palos Verdes and the administrative site is used as RPV City Hall.

LA-57 Torrance-Redondo Beach/1956-1963/1B, 2C/ACQR
IFC-Located at 1102 Camino Real, Redondo Beach. L&A-Located behind 25225 Crenshaw Blvd. at the east end of Torrance Airport. Launch area magazines are being used by the City of Torrance Fire Department; the all the L&A buildings have been recently destroyed. The IFC site is now Hopkins Wilderness park, few concrete structures remain.

LA-70 El Segundo-Hyperion/1956-1963/1B, 2C/ACQR
IFC-Located at West Pershing, near LAX L&A-Located at 9014 Pershing Dr., Los Angeles. There were a total of 24 launchers at this combined launch site for both LA 70 and LA 73. The Admin area is currently the home of Jet Pets at 911 So. Falmouth Ave. The Launch area and all six magazines have been destroyed. The IFC site has also been obliterated.

LA-73 Playa Del Rey-Hyperion/1956-1963/1B, 2C/ACQR
IFC-Located at Manchester and Redlands.
L&A-Located at 9014 Pershing Dr., Los Angeles.
The L&A area was co-located with LA70. The IFC site is now apartments and commercial establishments.

LA-78 Malibu (Santa Monica Mtns)/1954-(1959)-1974/1B, 2C/HIPAR
IFC-Located at 24666 W. Saddle Peak Road off Piume Rd. L&A-Located at 1900 Rambla Pacifica.
Both sites are now owned by the Dept. of the Interior. The IFC site has been extensively modified for use by various communications equipment and radars. The L&A site is currently leased by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Most of the structures remain at the site, though they have been modified to some degree. The elevators still work on all three launch platforms.

LA-88 Chatsworth-Oak Mountain/1956-(1959)-1974/1B, 2C/HIPAR, SMFU, RRIS
IFC-Located on Oat Mountain. L&A-Located on Brown's Canyon Road. The IFC is now the site of numerous Los Angeles Country radio relay antennas and a PACTEL relay tower. The L&A site is under the control of the State of California and recently (1993) was the location of a California Conservation Corps (CCC) camp. Most of the Nike structures remain in good condition at both the IFC and L&A sites.

LA-94 Los Pinetos-Newhall/1955-(1961)-1968/1B, 2C/ABAR
IFC-Located in the Angeles National Forest off Sand Canyon Road. L&A-about 3 miles and 1 mile, respectively, from the IFC site. This battery had an AN/FPS-75 ABAR. The IFC and L sites are used by ITT Gilfillon as radar sites. The Admin site is used by LA County Fire Department.

LA-96 Van Nuys-Sepulveda/1957-(1961)-1971/1B, 2C/ABAR
IFC-Located on San Vincente Mountain next to Mulholland Dr. L&A-Located at 15990 Victory Blvd.
This battery had an AN/FPS-75 ABAR. The IFC site is partially intact in San Vincente Mountain Park, the L&A site is largely intact and is used by the California Air National Guard. A section of the launch area is used by the Army National Guard.

LA-98 Magic Mountain-Lang (Saugus)/1955-1963/1B, 2C/ACQR
IFC-Located in the Angeles National Forest on top of Magic Mountain. L&A-Located south of State Highway 14 in Soledad Canyon (Lang Station). Though the battery was closed by 1963, the Admin area was used till the early 1970s. IFC site is now used as microwave relay. The L&A site is being used by a cement company and may be extensively modified.

Pasadena Army Support Center/1950-1963/HQ
H-located at 125 S. Grand Ave. in Pasadena. This site was the HQ for the 12th Artillery Group and the HHB of the 1st Battalion of the 56th ADA from 1956 to 1963. It is now a federal court building. The structures used for some of the Nike functions were located on the hillside behind the courthouse proper.

The Missiles

Nike Ajax

  • Designation: MIM-3A
  • Weight Gross: 2,259 pounds
  • Length: 392 inches
  • Warheads: 3 High Explosives
  • Range: 30.7 miles
  • Altitude: 60,000 feet
  • Speed: Mach 2.3

Nike Hercules

  • Designation: MIM-14B
  • Weight Gross: 10,711 pounds
  • Length: 478 inches
  • Warheads: 1 High Explosive or 1 Nuclear
  • Range: 96.3 miles
  • Altitude: 100,000 feet
  • Speed: Mach 3.65


With much appreciation..."borrowed" from http://ftmac.org/

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