Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2002 Andreas Parsch

NWC GTR-18 Smokey Sam

In the early 1980s the Naval Weapons Center (NWC) developed an extremely simple and cheap surface-to-air missile (SAM) simulation rocket. It was to provide a realistic visual SAM threat in air warfare exercises by actually launching a rocket without endangering the "attacked" aircraft. The rocket was designated GTR-18A, and because it trails a highly visible thick white cloud of smoke when fired to simulate a SAM, it was called "Smokey Sam".

Photo: via Glenn Campbell

The GTR-18A rocket is a very simple rocket with a fuselage made of phenolic paper and styrofoam fins. Because of its very light construction, the Smokey Sam won't do serious harm even if it accidentally hits a low-flying aircraft. It can be launched from unprepared ground by using single-bay or four-bay launchers (designated LMU-23/E and LMU-24/E, respectively). The complete Smokey Sam Simulator (SSS) system, which also includes a vehicle-mounted AN/VPQ-1 tracking radar, is designated SMU-124/E. In the early 1990s the Smokey Sam rocket was redesignated as DGTR-18A, although the use of the D ("Dummy") prefix is usually limited to non-flying rockets/missiles used for ground handling training only. The DGTR-18A is still being built and used in large numbers.

Photo: SSgt Hoekstra, USAF
GTR-18A launch (with AN/VPQ-1)


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for GTR-18A:

Length38 cm (15 in)
Finspan15 cm (6 in)
Diameter5 cm (2 in)
Ceiling550 m (1800 ft)
PropulsionSolid rocket

Main Sources

[1] "DOD 4120.15-L: Model Designation of Military Aerospace Vehicles", Department of Defense, 1998

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Last Updated: 9 January 2002