M727 Hawk Tracked Guided Missile Equipment Carrier
The tracked capabilities of the M727 carrier made it an ideal component of European air defense throughout the Cold War.
Authored By JR Potts, AUS 173d AB; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The M727 is a tracked carrier vehicle designed to transport the Hawk guided missile system (known collectively under the designation of "SP-Hawk". The tractor, essentially a modified version of the M548 series tracked vehicle - retaining its suspension and power train system - was developed by the BAe Corporation and deployed in 1969 as the first mobile, medium-range, guided anti-aircraft Hawk missile system developed for the United States Army. The M727 carrier could field up to three Hawk missiles from its rear-mounted swiveling turret. The rear of the M548 cab and engine compartment was covered over in an identifiable blast shield. The Hawk missile system and its M727 tractor would be assigned and used throughout the world but its primary focus would always be its deployment across Europe - where the threat of a Soviet invasion during the Cold War loomed large and its tracked design could prove useful in the region's environment. The SP-Hawk project was terminated in August of 1971.
When traversing on paved road, she made use of rubber track pads on each track system and make 35mph on road, though less off road. The suspension system featured a "lock" function that attempted to stabilize the M727 while loading and firing its payload. The M727 crew cab was built with a "Roll Over Protective Structure" (ROPS), a safety device installed for the driver to help keep him safe when traversing the expected terrain in Germany. Additional safety and stability design features included a torsion bar suspension system and live hydraulics. The vehicle had a 7-ton cargo capacity to carry the missiles and a 60-kilowatt generator that was required for powering the Hawk missile system carriage. The M727 was built with an all-aluminum body mated to a pair of steel tracks. The chassis had a 20,000lb winch for use when she went into a ditch. It is of note that the M727 missile carrier was not an amphibious machine.
The M727's missile system was the Raytheon MIM-23 Hawk - a medium-range, surface-to-air guided missile munition tied to a variety of radar systems during her tenure. The missile itself entered service in 1960 with the M727 carrier vehicle. Three of these large missiles were carried on a traversing turret of the M727 while an M501 loader-transporter was used to reload missiles onto the turret system. The HAWK has since been largely replaced in the United States Army by 2002, by the MIM-104 Patriot. Similarly, the USMC have moved on to the portable FIM-92 Stinger in its place.