Hercules Aerospace is beginning to feel the effect of the U.S. Air Force's plan to store Peacekeeper missiles in railroad cars (alled Rail Garrison) for deployment in time of national need.

The railroad-basing concept envisions deploying 50 Peacekeepers in pairs on 25 special trains, which will remain on Air Force bases until needed and then moved along the national rail network.Kay J. Dickerson, manager of the Hercules Peacekeeper program, said Hercules has been asked to make a proposal on an additional five stage IIIs and one "high fidelity" or inert stage for Buy V, which is the beginning of the company's involvement in the railroad program.

He said the live stages will be utilized in a railroad development flight test program and the inert unit for proofing and check out of facilities. The Air Force Ballistic Missile Office, San Bernadino, Calif., has completed the initial concept design and is moving into the development stage.

Buy V and VI involve deliveries of 13 stages each and extend Hercules' role in the Peacekeeper program in 1992. With the rail system, this activity would run into the late 1990s.

Hercules has had a contract since April 1986 for production deliveries of Peacekeeper Stage III, and with completion of Buy II, the total number of delivered tactical stages is 42.

As the railroad program moves from the concept stage to the development stage, the Air Force has indicated plans for three test phases of development, integration and weapons system level test phases.

In the initial phase, programs will be conducted to assess areas such as blast effects, launch load characteristics and railcar vibration effects. In the integration phase, three canister assembly launch tests are planned along with testing of train dynamics/mobility and hardware/software.

With cooperation from the American Association of Railways and the Federal Railway Association, about 120,000 miles of usable track have been identified for the railroad system.