Nuclear weapons in Italy

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

In April of the 1960 the 36ata Aerobrigata di Strategico Interdizione, with command in Puglia, at Gioia del Colle, was established by the Italian Air Force.

The large unit consisted of the 1 Reparto IS and the 2 Reparto IS, each of which controlled five LP (Launch Positions) positions, with a ready-to-use missile and two refills, for a total of thirty shots.

IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) missiles were the Chrysler SM-78 / PGM-19A Jupiter, which could carry a Los Alamos / Sandia Mk-49 Mod. 3 thermonuclear warhead from 1,44 Megatoni at a maximum distance of about 3.000 km.

Under the 1 ° Department there were five Groups, among which the 56 °, the 57 °, the 58 ° and the 60 ° IS Group.

The 2 ° Department controlled the other five, including the 108 °, the 109 °, the 111 ° and the 112 ° IS Group.

Alongside the Italian departments there were the 7230ᵗʰ Support Squadron and the 305ᵗʰ Munitions Maintenance of the USAF.

Contrary to the operating procedures of the time, the Mk-49 thermonuclear warheads were not stored in the deposits, but directly installed in the missile ogives, causing protests by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, which in February of the 1961 proposed the complete withdrawal of the IRBMs from European bases as deemed unsafe.

At that time, especially due to the significant involvement of Giulio Andreotti, the Italian Defense was intent on acquiring a strategic nuclear weapon (as it is recognized as the only instrument to play a leading role in future international scenarios).

In fact, the Italian Navy had launched a program for the installation of FBM (Fleet Ballistic Missile) POLARIS on board missile launchers Giuseppe Garibaldi, Andrea Doria, Caio Duilio e Vittorio Veneto (during the missile crisis in Cuba, in the 1962, GARIBALDI was in the United States to carry out technical tests of its four wells for the launch of the Polaris).

However, the Italian political instability, as well as the fear that the secrets of nuclear weapons could be transmitted beyond the curtain (the Italian Communist Party was strongly rooted in the territory), made Washington lean towards the annulment of the Italian nuclear program.

The 36ᵃ Aerobrigata was deactivated the 1 ° April 1963 and definitively dissolved the 21 June.