Genie: Nuclear Air-to-Air Missile

By Deane Barker on February 8, 2009

AIR-2 Genie: Scary fact of the day: the U.S. deployed a nuclear missile for the purpose of shooting down other planes.

To ensure simplicity and reliability, the weapon would be unguided, the large blast radius making accuracy mostly irrelevant. […] the fuzing mechanism would not arm the warhead until engine burn-out, to give the launch aircraft sufficient time to turn and escape.

The Genie was retired in 1985.



  1. Not that scary: A group of five USAF officers volunteered to stand hatless in their light summer uniforms underneath the blast to prove that the weapon was safe for use over populated areas. They were photographed by George Yoshitake who stood there with them. Gamma and neutron doses received by observers on the ground were negligible.

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