- Zero length launch
The zero length launch system or zero length take-off system (ZLL, ZLTO, ZEL, ZELL) was a system whereby jet fighters and
attack aircraftwere intended to be placed upon rockets attached to mobile launch platforms. Most zero length launch experiments took place in the 1950s, during the Cold War.
The primary advantage of a zero length launch system is the elimination of the need for a vulnerable
airfieldfor takeoffs. In the event of a sudden attack, air forces could field credible air defenses and launch airstrikes even with their own airbases destroyed. Although launching aircraft using rocket boosters proved to be relatively trouble-free, zero length launch systems still required a conventional runway if the aircraft was expected to land. Bulky mobile launching platforms also proved to be expensive to operate and difficult to transport. Security would also have been an issue with mobile launchers, especially if equipped with nuclear-armed strike fighters.
United States Air Force, Luftwaffe, and Soviet Air Forceall conducted experiments in zero length launching. All works upon ZLL aircraft were abandoned due to logistical concerns and the increasing efficiency of guided missiles.
Manned Aircraft Involved in ZLL Testing
* Republic F-84G Thunderjet
* North American
* North American
XF-108 Rapier- (aircraft program cancelled)
The desire to field combat aircraft without depending on vulnerable landing strips also motivated development of aircraft capable of vertical (
VTOL) or short ( STOL) takeoffs or landings. Examples of these include the Hawker Siddeley Harrierand the McDonnel Douglas F-15S/MTD.
title=The Zero-Length Launch Fighter
publisher=Greg Goebel's AIR VECTORS
title=Martin Matador and Mace missiles
publisher=38th Tactical Missile Wing, tribute site
title=Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch Complex 21
2 June 2008Recent photos (out of use, but well preserved) of the hard-site test buildings for Mace
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