The Hawk was the first mobile medium-range guided anti-aircraft missile deployed by the U.S. Army, and was the oldest SAM system still in use by U.S. armed forces in the late 1990s.
Development studies for a semi-active radar homing medium-range surface-to-air missile system were begun by the U.S. Army in 1952 under the designation SAM-A-18 Hawk (Homing All the Way Killer).
In July 1954, development contracts were awarded to Raytheon for the missile, and to Northrop for launcher, radars, and fire-control system. The first launch of an XSAM-A-18 test missile occurred in June 1956, and the initial development phase was completed in July 1957. By that time, the Hawk had been redesignated as Guided Missile, Aerial Intercept, XM3 (and XM3E1).
Initial Operational Capability of the M3 Hawk was achieved with the U.S. Army in August 1959, and in 1960 the M3 was also fielded by U.S. Marine Corps units. The Hawk system was used by many NATO and other countries, and the missile was license-built in Western Europe and Japan. There were two training versions of the original Hawk missile, designated XM16 and XM18.