Historic California Posts, Camp, Stations and Airfields
Los Angeles Defense Area Site LA-14
(El Monte US Army Reserve Center)

Administrative (LA-14A) and Launcher (LA-14L) Areas, South El Monte
The first Nike-Ajax battery in the greater Los Angeles area was completed in 1954. At the peak of the Nike program, there were 16 missile launch sites guarding the greater Los Angeles area and the Nike-Ajax battery in EI Monte was one of these sites. Together, they protected an area of approximately 4,000 square miles with what Army officials called a "Ring of Supersonic Steel".
These launch sites were initially under the command of the 47th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense), headquartered at Fort MacArthur, and the 12th Artillery Group, stationed in Pasadena. However, the sites were ultimately manned by personnel from the California Army National Guard.

On 17 September 1962, the Department of the Army, Civil, acquired a 26.67 acre site for Nike Site LA 14-L/A Launch and Administration area. This site was subsequently transferred on 9 October 1967, to the Commanding Officer, Southern California Sector, XV Corps through Use Permit DACW09-4-68-30. This 26.67 acre site permitted continued use of the Nike Site LA-14L/A Launch and Administration areas. During that time, a headquarters building and Reserve Center was constructed on an eastern portion of the site.

While some sites eventually deployed the nuclear-capable Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missile, the older non-nuclear Nike-Ajax was the only missile deployed at this site. Improvements on the site included two underground missile storage areas, a missile assembly and test building, acid fueling station, acid storage shed, a flammable material storehouse, a standby generator facility, and a 4,000 gallon underground fuel storage tank.

It is not known precisely when this site was deactivated or declared excess. In 1971, an amendment to the Use Permit reduced the total acreage of the site by 3.05 acres. This 3.05 acres, was incorporated into a recreational lease between the Department of the Army and the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. Under Amendment No.2, dated 2 June 1972, the termination date of the permit was extended for an additional term of five years, from 30 September 1972 to 30 September 1977. However, in the early 1970's all of the Nike bases in the Los Angeles area were declared obsolete and subsequently deactivated on 1 July 1974 under the terms of the SALT I treaty.

By 1976, the Department of the Army in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, began developing public recreational uses in the area. On 16 December 1976, Amendment No. 3 deleted an additional 19.22 acres from the permit in order to accommodate this recreational development, in exchange 12.77 acres were transferred to the Department of the Army.

Through these amendments, the area remaining under the Permit DACW09-4-68-30 was reduced to 17.17 acres. This 17.17 acres still supports a portion of the currently active EI Monte U.S. Army Reserve Center. Two amendments deleted 22.27 acres from the permit area. This 22.27 acre area is currently being leased by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation from the Department of the Army for a variety of recreational purposes.

Amendment No. 3 granted a right of entry for the purposes of relocating property line fencing, the underground fuel storage tank, the flammable material storehouse, and an unidentified metal building. There is no mention or record that this work was ever completed.

Most of the former structures have been removed except the two missile storage areas/launch pads, assorted vents, hatches, an acid storage shed, and a concrete pad associated with the former acid fueling station. The main opening to one of these missile storage areas is unsecured. Open access is available to this storage area through an adjacent unsecured rectangular hatch. Other openings such as unplugged above ground lines and unsecured vents, etc. were also noticed. The structures associated with these openings are located inside a fenced area currently being leased to the Los Angels County Department of Parks and Recreation. Since the area is secured by a chain linked fence with a lock on the entrance gate, potential safety hazards due to these openings are minimal.

The site was garrisoned by the following Regular Army units:
UPDATE: All but one building in the lower portion of this site were destroyed in the 2009 Station Fire.
Intergrated Fire Control Area (LA-14C), Whitter Narrows
The Department of the Army obtained 13.30 acres fee & 16.79 acres in easements from Frank F. Pellissier & Sons, Inc., et. al. on 1 May 1955; 0.06 acres fee from Rose Hills Memorial Park Association; 26.67 acres by use permit from the Department of the Army, Civil Works; and 6.91 acres by lease.

The site was used by the Department of the Army from 1955 to 1963 for control of launchers located at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.

The site was declared excess on 22 March 1963. The lease on 6.91 acres had been terminated on 26 May 1957. There was no provision regarding restoration in the termination. The 26.67 acres that had been acquired by use permit were retransferred to the Department of the Army, Civil Works, on 1 August 1962. The remaining 13.36 acres fee and 16.79 acres in easements were conveyed by the General Services Administration (GSA) through the Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW) to the Rio Hondo Junior College District by quitclaim deed dated 15 November 1963.

On 21 November 1971 this property was traded to the County Sanitation District of Los Angeles County, the current owner.
The site is currently owned by the County Sanitation District of Los Angeles County. The site is being used for recreational purposes, the location of radio towers and is now part of a sanitary landfill.
Source: Los Angeles District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Posted 15 February 2015

The Western Electric SAM-A-7/M1/MIM-3 Nike Ajax

The Nike Ajax was the world's first operational surface-to-air guided missile system. Its origins lay in the immediate post-war time, when the U.S. Army realized that guided missiles were the only way to provide air-defense against future fast high-flying bombers. Western Electric became the prime contractor for the XSAM-G-7 Nike missile system and Douglas as the primary subcontractor was responsible for the missile airframe.

The first unguided Nike missiles were fired in 1946, but problems with the original multi-rocket booster (eight solid-fuel rockets wrapped around the missile tail) soon led to delays in the program. In 1948, it was decided to replace this booster pack with a single rocket booster, attached to the back of the missile. The main propulsion of the missile was a Bell liquid-fueled rocket motor, and the flight path was controlled by the four small fins around the nose. In November 1951, the first successful interception of a QB-17 target drone succeeded. The first production Nike (which had been redesignated SAM-A-7 in 1951) flew in 1952, and the first operational Nike site was activated in 1954. By this time, the missile had been designated by the Army as Guided Missile, Anti-Aircraft M1. The name had changed to Nike I, to distinguish it from the Nike-B (later MIM-14 Nike Hercules) and Nike II (later LIM-49 Nike Zeus). On 15 November 1956, the name was finally changed to Nike Ajax.

The Nike Ajax missile used a command guidance system. An acquisition radar called LOPAR (Low-Power Acquisition Radar) picked up potential targets at long range, and the information on hostile targets was then transferred to the Target Tracking Radar (TTR). An adjacent Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) tracked the flight path of the Nike Ajax missile. Using tracking data of the TTR and MTR, a computer calculated the interception trajectory, and sent appropriate course correction commands to the missile. The three high-explosive fragmentation warheads of the missile (in nose, center, and aft section) were detonated by ground command, when the paths of target and missile met.

One of the major disadvantages of the Nike Ajax system was that the guidance system could handle only one target at a time. Additionally, there was originally no data link between different Nike Ajax sites, which could lead to several sites engaging the same target. The latter problem was eventually solved by the introduction of the Martin AN/FSG-1 Missile Master command-and-control system, with automatic data communication and processing. Other problematic features of the Nike Ajax system were the liquid-fuel rocket motor with its highly toxic propellants, and the large size of a complete site with all components, which made Nike Ajax to all intents and purposes a fixed-site air defense system.

By 1958, nearly 200 Nike Ajax sites had been activated in the United States. However, the far more advanced MIM-14 Nike Hercules soon replaced the Nike Ajax, and by late 1963, the last Nike Ajax on U.S. soil had been retired. In 1963, the Nike Ajax had received the new designation MIM-3A. Despite the use of an MIM (Mobile Intercept Missile) designator, the mobility of the Nike Ajax system was more theoretical than actually feasible in a combat situation.

The MIM-3A continued to serve with U.S. overseas and friendly forces for many more years. In total, more than 16,000 missiles were built.

Source: Directory of U.S. Missiles and Rockets, http://www.designation-systems.net/

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Updated 8 February 2016