idea was to base the MX in silos very close together in a remote area. If the Soviets attacked, the first of their own missiles to arrive would blow up or deflect the rest of those coming in, and so enough MX missiles would presumably survive to be able to launch a devastating retaliatory blow. But this idea, too, seemed flawed. Without a test, no one could be sure whether or not enough MXs would survive to constitute an adequate deterrent.
In the end, the Reagan administration asked Congress for one hundred MX missiles to be based in refurbished Minuteman silos. In 1982, Congress finally authorized only fifty, and specifically said that the reason for cutting the request in half was the MX's vulnerability in fixed silos.
The first ten MX missiles were deployed in refurbished Minuteman silos at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and became operational in December 1986. The rest were to be deployed by the end of 1988. Thus, by 1988 Warren Air Force Base had fifty MX missiles each with ten warheads, and 160 of the old Minuteman missiles, each with three warheads.
At the same time that the first MX missiles were deployed, the Reagan administration asked Congress for another fifty, to be based on railroad cars, but not in the "racecourse" design. Two of the MX missiles would be placed on each of twenty-five trains. The trains would be shuttled around inside military reservations until time of crisis, when they would be deployed over the entire United States railway system.
With the MX and the Soviet equivalent deployed, the world entered a period when one missile launched in a surprise first strike could aim two warheads at each of five land-based missiles in fixed silos of the victim's retaliatory, secondstrike force so accurately that little hope remained that any of the missiles being attacked could survive no matter how much they were hardened. If the only effective deterrent was a secure, second-strike force, then that force would have to consist of submarine-based missiles, airborne missiles, mobile land-based missiles, or bombers with very advanced technology for getting through the enemy's radar and air defenses.
Suppose the United States came to rely not on submarine-based and mobile land missiles like Midgetman but mainly on the MX based in the old Minuteman silos, where they were both very vulnerable and very tempting, even provocative targets. Suppose also that the Soviets continued to rely for their main missile force on land-based missiles in fixed silos. The result would be that both sides would have to consider a strategy of launch on warning. If so, the United States and the Soviet Union would be like two old-time Western gunfighters in a saloon -- each eyeing the other suspiciously and tensed to draw the instant the other showed any sign of making a move, even to scratch his nose.