America's Largest Nuclear Weapon
The Titan II was a second-generation, 2-stage, silo-stored, silo-launched, liquid-propelled Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). It was stored in a hardened underground silo with its liquid propellant on board, so that it was ready to launch at all times. An ICBM is a missile specifically designed to carry a nuclear warhead from one continent to another. These missiles are ballistic because, like the shell from a gun, they receive a brief but powerful initial push from a rocket motor, then follow a ballistic free-flight trajectory to the target. The Titan II was the largest land-based missile ever deployed by the US.
While the Titan II was designed for the purpose of carrying a nuclear warhead from the United States to another continent, it was built for another purpose altogether. And that purpose was that the Titan II would never launch at all. The primary mission of the Titan II was “Peace Through Deterrence.” America’s strategy in deploying the Titan II was to deter nuclear attacks from other countries. It accomplished this by demonstrating that the US had the ability to retaliate against a nuclear strike to such a degree that the attacking country would be virtually destroyed, even if that country launched its weapons first. For 24 years, nearly a quarter of a century, Titan II missiles stood guard over America, fulfilling this mission.