The GLCM is a mobile, ground-to-ground cruise missile developed to provide North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) theater commanders with a low-cost, reliable, accurate tactical nuclear missile. Its sophisticated guidance system gives it the ability to penetrate enemy territory at low altitudes and high subsonic speeds. The first operational GLCMs were deployed to Europe beginning in 1983 and went on alert at RAF Greenham Common in England. Later, they were stationed in Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Their deployment was controversial, but it helped bring about the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union, thus marking the first nuclear forces reduction in history. All of the USAF GLCMs were subject to elimination under the treaty with the exception of eight retained for static display. These became part of the USAF Museum collection and, except for this example, were placed on loan to other museums in the U.S. and Europe to mark the beginning of nuclear arms reduction.
The GLCM on display (S/N 097) was the first to go on alert at Greenham Common and the first of the approved static display missiles to be released from service. It has been demilitarized in compliance with the INF Treaty. The BGM-109G "Gryphon" is almost identical to the BGM-109 "Tomahawk" non-nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM) used by the U.S. navy during Operation Desert Storm.