UPDATED: May 25th, 2009
PYE WACKET

Due to lack of intelligent resources on the Pye Wacket project, the dead end searches and the fact that to this date all legitimate documented media coverage of UFO and lenticular aircraft, be they Russian, German, French or American entities, have no mention of Pye Wacket, or even mention of a lenticular defense missile, it is my conclusion the concept of a hypersonic circular vehicle exists under cover. Like many technologies developed by the government a little information was leaked at the time of concept and left to run amok.

The Pye Wacket, being a disc shaped missile and having technology probably still under secrecy, lends itself to the world of speculation. Extracting information and data from original sources proves disheartening. All information contained on this page is vague, to say the least however, it is based on data from the original participants in the Pye Wacket Project at different stages of project development. Several sources are gleaned and their information varies because of these developmental stages and original parties involved. This slightly conflicting data still presents the known Pye Wacket information as best as possible to date.

THE LENTICULAR DEFENSE MISSILE

When the B-70 Valkyrie Mach 3 bomber was developed in the late 1950s, the U.S. Air Force was faced with the problem of how to defend it against existing and future soviet air-defense weapons. It was expected that the B-70's high operating speed and altitude would not make it immune to nuclear-tipped surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. The proposed solution was the DAMS (Defensive Anti-Missile System).

The DAMS would have to use an extremely fast and maneuverable missile to intercept fighters and missiles approaching at relative speeds of up to Mach 7 (as could be the case for a head-on attack). And, as if that were not complicated enough, it was necessary that the missile could transition instantaneously (for example to right angle) in any direction to strike the attacking missile. This missile had to be able to operate with accelerations ranging between 60 G. and 250 G.! The development of this missile was also justified by a reason even more secret: the interception and destruction of UFOs! Indeed, the US Air Force regarded the UFOs as a real threat for the safety of the United States.

One possible solution was a radical missile design developed under project Pye Wacket in 1957. The Pye Wacket missile was a basically circular flying disc, and was formally called the Lenticular Defense Missile (LDM). This shape showed high supersonic stability and lift even at extreme angles of attack, and its evenly distributed mass made the needed super-agility possible. The LDM was originally designed and studied by the Air Proving Ground Center at Eglin AFB and the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC). In June 1959, Convair received a contract to continue development.

During 1959 and 1960, Convair's studies and wind-tunnel tests at the AEDC evaluated various disc cross sections and control devices, the latter including several kinds of flaps, vanes, and other moving surfaces. These proved inadequate to control the vehicle as instantaneously as required at high Mach velocities. In the end, a wedge-shaped airframe cross section and a gas generated reaction control system with six thrusters (4x pitch/roll, 2x yaw) was deemed the best solution. The design of the first Pye Wacket test vehicle was a disc with a diameter of 1.5 m (5 ft), a maximum thickness of about 30 cm (12 in) and a gross weight of 190 kg (425 lb). It was to be powered by three Thiokol M58A2 solid-fueled rocket motors (the same model as in early AIM-4 Falcon missiles). It was planned to launch these vehicles from a rail launcher mounted on a rocket sled in 1960. It has been reported that some flight tests were actually conducted in 1960, but this is unconfirmed.

Thanks to its symmetric shape (which was, however, compromised in Convair's wedge-shaped design), the operational LDM was to be launched from the B-70 in any direction directly towards the target. For mid-course guidance, the Pye Wacket would have used targeting information given to it before launch by the B-70's fire-control system, and terminal guidance would have been provided by an infrared seeker in the missile's "nose". The characteristics of the LDM apparently evolved somewhat over time, and a USAF report from the later phase of the program describes it as being 1.8 m (70 in) in diameter, 23 cm (9 in) deep and weighing 230 kg (510 lb). Two solid-fueled rocket motors of 45.4 kN (10200 lb) thrust propelled the missile to a speed of Mach 6.5, and maximum range was about 133 km (72 nm). However, source [1] attributes these characteristics to an earlier design stage.

September 1959 AEDC report on preliminary supersonic wind tunnel tests of lenticular missile shapes. This study focused on the aerodynamics of simple discs of three different profiles at speeds up to Mach 5

March 1960 AEDC report on wind tunnel tests of Pye Wacket lenticular configurations at supersonic speeds. By this time, a subtle wedge-shaped cross-section had been selected. This test series investigated different control surface configurations at various Mach numbers and angles of attack.

The above illustration is probably someone's interpretation.

The prototype of the missile, built out of magnesium, had a 1.53 meter diameter and a maximum thickness of approximately 40 cm. It weighed in at 150 kilos and had a range of approximately 25 km. Some reports state that it used three (3) of the Falcon derived motors for actual ground testing however, this is not confirmed.

The control of the missile was ensured by six gas thrusters, using a binary fuel, injected by nitrogen under pressure. These six thrusters, each delivering 250 kilos of thrust, made it possible for the missile to accelerate in all the directions required, in a quasi instantaneous way.

The first real flight test of the Pye Wacket missile took place at the end of 1960 at Hurricane Mesa in Utah.

It can be assumed that the Pye Wacket project was terminated in the 1960/61 time frame. At that time, actual use of defensive air-to-air missiles by the B-70 had been cancelled as the B-70 program itself was cancelled. In any way, the electronics of the time would not have made it possible to finalize a system of detection, and guidance, able to intercept an unfavorable missile at speeds of Mach 6.5.

SPECIFICATIONS
Data for Pye Wacket (proposed operational configuration)

DIAMETER
  1.8m • 70 inches
DEPTH
  23cm • 9 inches
WEIGHT
  230kg • 510 lbs
SPEED
  Mach 6.5+
RANGE
  133km • 72 nautical miles
PROPULSION
  2 solid fuel rockets • 45.4kN • 10,200 lbs
WARHEAD
  25 kilos High Explosive

RESOURCES
[1] Dennis R. Jenkins, Tony R. Landis:
"Valkyrie: North American's Mach 3 Superbomber", Specialty Press, 2004
[2] Giesbert Nijhuis: "Project: Pye Wacket"
Website http://www.laesieworks.com/ifo/lib/disc.html#ekip
{3} An unlikely French Philosophy Site
WebSite: http://www.sagesse-primordiale.com/forum/ftopic441-0.php (now obsolete)
[4] Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold AFB, TN
[5] Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
WebSite
http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/pyewacket.html
[6] A Slovakian WebSite by Matej Furda
WebSite http://www.hitechweb.szm.sk/UFOpreprava4.htm (now obsolete)

PHOTOS
All existing known Pye Wacket photos can be viewed HERE

REPORTS COLLECTED
Informational request response received from the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB can be viewed HERE