For seven years, the US government has been developing a project to create, without exaggeration, the most deadly weapon in history. The development was called Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (SLAM) and was supposed to be the first (and, apparently, the last) absolute nuclear weapons.
Vintage video will help to understand the details. In addition to intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers, the United States Air Force wanted to have a third type of weaponry in order to launch retaliatory strikes in case the Cold War develops into a “hot” phase. The result was a SLAM - a nuclear-powered cruise missile that could fly for weeks before bringing rain of hydrogen bombs down on enemy rears.
The project, which received the working title The Big Stick (lit. "Big Stick") was transferred to the aerospace giant Convair. SLAM was considered as a nuclear-powered cruise missile that could penetrate enemy airspace at low altitude, drop nuclear bombs on targets, and then commit "suicide" in enemy territory and contaminate it with radioactive substances. The Pentagon hoped that the weapon would be ready for 1965 year - six years after the release of this film.
The launch of SLAM was carried out with the help of a special launch vehicle, and after reaching a certain threshold of speed, the own nuclear engine of the rocket began to work. According to calculations, it could stay in the air for up to several weeks: the entrance into the airspace of the enemy was at an altitude of 300 meters or less at a speed of Mach 3,5 (1160 m / s), and an unscreened nuclear reactor would further pollute the environment with radioactive waste.
SLAM was designed to carry nuclear weapons or more powerful thermonuclear bombs. The version of the rocket, shown in the video, contained one warhead with a thermonuclear filling, but could also carry smaller nuclear bombs - according to some sources, up to 26 units.
SLAM was canceled in 1964, amid concerns about its profitability and practicality. Testing a rocket designed to emit lethal doses of radiation was a very difficult and dangerous undertaking (although most of the individual components, including the reactor, were successfully prototyped). Ultimately, the use of such missiles would turn the Earth into a radioactive desert. Finally, the creation of conventional nuclear warheads was cheaper, simpler and much faster.