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The Jupiter, produced for the Army by Chrysler Corporation, was a single-stage, liquid-fueled, rocket-powered (150,000 pounds of thrust) ballistic missile equipped with all-inertial guidance. The Jupiter was stored vertically on tactical, field-deployed launchers. The missile could be fueled and fired to an effective range of 1,500 nautical miles upon approximately 15 to 20 minutes notice.

On 8 November 1955 Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson assigned jointly to the Army and Navy the development of an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) with both a shipboard and landbased capability. Despite subsequent techical progress, by 1957 the JUPITER program was in a precarious position, following the Navy's withdrawal from the program in late 1956 and the Secretary of Defense's November 1956 decision to limit the Army's responsibility to missiles having ranges of 200 miles or less. In essence, the Army was developing a missile which the Army could not use.

Following the Soviet Union's success with Sputnik I a new IRBM plan was approved by President Eisenhower and the National Security Council on 30 January 1958, which would deploy four Jupiter IRBM squadrons, each squadron possessing 60 missiles. The first Jupiter squadron would attain operational status by 31 December 1958, and the entire force of 60 IRBMs would be operationally deployed by March 1960.

In contrast to the relatively smooth deployment of Thor IRBM units in the United Kingdom, IRBM negotiations between the United States and other NATO nations proceeded at a slow pace. The entire IRBM program suffered a severe blow in June 1958 when Charles De Gaulle, the new French President, refused to accept any Jupiter missiles. This setback was tempered somewhat on 26 March 1959, when the United States and Italy signed an agreement to deploy two Jupiter squadrons on Italian soil. Seven months later, on 28 October 1959, the United States and Turkey concluded an agreement to deploy one Jupiter squadron on NATO's southern flank.


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