Why Does White Sands Have A Naval Presence in the Middle of the Desert?
The last time our area had an ocean anywhere even close was a billion years ago but, since 1946, Navy personnel have been stationed at White Sands Missile Range.
The Navy was established on range on June 14, 1946, to participate with the Army in research studies and test firing of captured German V-2 rockets. During the late 1940s, the Navy was primarily involved in launching sounding rockets for atmospheric research. From the V-2 the Navy expanded rapidly with testing of its own Viking rocket. This work grew in the 1950s when the Aerobee rocket was developed and set new altitude and payload records. An early altitude record of 158 miles was set on May 24, 1954. Current rocket programs include support for the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Sounds like they have some pretty cool toys over there, huh? As far as today's business, the Navy has 3 key functions: "land-based weapons system testing, directed energy weapons testing and research rocket launch support."
The WSMR detachment is also the Navy's ONLY test center "capable of firing all versions of the Standard Missile (SM-l, SM-2, MR and ER) including the Vertical Launch Standard, Terrier/Tartar missiles and Aegis weapons system." Lot's of initials there, I know. Don't worry, there's plenty more. - wsmr.army.mil
Apparently, whoever wrote all this gets paid extra to use initials.
It also is the land-based test site for Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), Vertical Launch ASROC (VLA), Sea Lance, 5" Guided Projectile, Tomahawk and NATO Seasparrow , among other systems. The detachment´s High Energy Laser (HEL) activity is responsible for the Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL) and the Sealite Beam Director (SLBD). Tests using the MIRACL are done in support of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, the Navy, and other Department of Defense agencies. - wsmr.army.mil
Now, you know.