Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kirill A. Yevstigneyev

Guards' Captain (later Major-General) Kirill Alekseyevich Yevstigneyev (17 February 1917 – 29 August 1996) was a Soviet fighter pilot and one of the top Soviet aces of World War II. During is career he claimed 56 aerial victories.

World War II Combat Service
Evstigneyev gained his first pair of victories not two weeks after his arrival at the front. On the 28th of March, 1943, near the village of Urazovo in the Belgorod province, southwest of Moscow near the border with the Ukraine, he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 ("Messer" in Soviet Air Force parlance), followed by his first Junkers Ju 87 Stuka. On the 12th of April, he brought down a Messerschmitt Bf 110, and became an ace three weeks later, on the 6th of May, when he shot down a Junkers Ju 88 and another Bf 110. In the huge aerial engagements during the Battle of Kursk in July, 1943, Yevstigneev scored six more victories. On the 7th of July, he brought down the leader of a ten-strong bomber formation. The following day, July 8, he engaged a formation of 9 Stukas, and again brought down the leader. The remaining Stukas turned and fled. Yevstigneev pursued and scored a manoeuvre kill when the Stuka he engaged struck the ground. A subsequent sortie the same day saw him bring down one more Stuka. On the 9th, he scored his second Bf 109 kill, followed by two more on the 13th and the 16th of July.

On the 5th of August, flying a close-air-support sortie on the approach to Belgorod, Yestigneev's eight-aircraft formation engaged opposing German fighters. In the ensuing dog fight, Yestigneev was badly wounded in both feet, and had to be sent to a field hospital ("medsanbat" in Soviet military-speak). There, he had to repeatedly dissuade surgeons from amputating at least one of his feet. He ended up escaping after nine days and crossing the 35 km to the nearest airfield - on crutches. He found his way back to his assigned airfield and finished his recovery there. A month after being wounded, and still on crutches, he flew his next combat sortie.

Between March and November, 1943, the then-Senior Lieutenant Yevstigneyev is recorded as having completed 144 combat sorties, with 23 enemy aircraft shot down, with a share in another 3.

On the 2 August 1944, the squadron commander 240 Fighter Air Regiment (302nd Fighter Air Division, Fighter Air Corps, 5th Air Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front) Senior Lieutenant Kiril A. Yevstigneyev was awarded the Title Hero of the Soviet Union with the presentation of the Order of Lenin and medal "Gold star" (№ 2284).

Yevstigneyev continued to serve until October 1944, and completed 83 additional combat mission, claiming 20 aircraft shot down.

On 23 February 1945, the squadron commander of 178th Guard Fighter Air Regiment (14th Guard Fighter Air Division, 3rd Guard Fighter Air Corps, 5th Air Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front) guards captain Kirill A. Yevstigneyev was awarded second Title Hero of the Soviet Union with the medal "Gold star" (№4039).

Kirill A. Yevstigneyev finished World War II as the commander of 178th Guard Fighter Air Regiment.

Evstigneyev's World War II record:
    more than 300 combat missions
    120 aerial engagements
    53 enemy aircraft shot down + 3 shared

Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovsky (1898–1967)

Marshal of the Soviet Union. Born to a poor peasant family near Odessa on 23 November 1898, Rodion Malinovsky enlisted in the Russian Army at the outbreak of World War I. Badly wounded in 1915, he spent several months recuperating before reassignment as a machine gunner with the Russian Expeditionary Corps in France in April 1916. He was decorated for bravery and again wounded. His unit mutinied in the spring of 1917, however, and Malinovksy was transferred to North Africa.

Malinovsky returned to Russia via Vladivostok in August 1919. He made his way along the Trans-Siberian Railway to Omsk, where he joined the Red Army and fought against the White forces. He then served as chief of staff of III Cavalry Corps. In 1926 he joined the Communist Party and a year later entered the Frunze Military Academy for a three-year officers’ training program. He next served as a military advisor to the Republican forces during 1937–1938 in the Spanish Civil War. Returning to the Soviet Union, he became a senior instructor on the faculty of the Frunze Military Academy.

In March 1941 Major General Malinovsky assumed command of the new XLVIII Rifle Corps on the Romanian border. In August, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, he had charge of the Sixth Army in the Ukraine, where he had no choice but to withdraw before the advancing Germans. Promoted to lieutenant general that November, the next month he took command of the Southern Front. Following the ill-fated Kharkov Offensive in June 1942 for which he shared blame, he was reassigned to rear echelon duty.

During July and August 1942, Malinovsky headed the Don Operational Forces Group before being named in August to command the Sixty-Sixth Army. He also developed a long association with Nikita Khrushchev, then a political officer reportedly assigned by Josef Stalin to watch Malinovsky. He next commanded the Voronezh Front in October and the Second Guards Army in November. In the latter capacity he played a key role in the Battle of Stalingrad, in December defeating Army Group Don, the German relief force under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein.

Malinovsky was promoted to colonel general in February 1943, commanding the Southern Front that month and the Southwest Front in March. In April he was promoted to general of the army. He played a major role in the Battle of Kursk in July 1943 and then spearheaded the drive across the Ukraine, taking Odessa in April 1944. His command was redesignated the 3rd Ukrainian Front in October 1943 and the 2nd Ukrainian Front in May 1944. From the Ukraine, he led Soviet forces into Romania, Hungary, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. In September 1944 he was promoted to marshal of the Soviet Union.

When the war in Europe ended, Malinovsky took command of the Transbaikal Front in the Far East, pushing into Japanese-held Manchuria. A prominent member of the Soviet military hierarchy after the war, he headed the Far East Command during 1947–1953 and the Far East Military District during 1953–1956. He was deputy minister of defense during 1956–1957 and then succeeded Marshal Georgi Zhukov as minister of defense. In this post Malinovsky introduced strategic missiles into the Soviet arsenal and oversaw Soviet military modernization.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Khrushchev, now premier of the Soviet Union, asked Malinovsky how long it would take U.S. forces to crush Cuba. Malinovsky replied with an estimate of “two or three days,” a statement that Khrushchev passed along to a furious Fidel Castro. Malinovsky died in office of cancer in Moscow on 31 March 1967. Marshal Andrei Grechko succeeded him as minister of defense.

References Erickson, John. “Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovsky.” Pp. 117–124 in Stalin’s Generals, edited by Harold Shukman. New York: Grove, 1993. Glantz, David M., and Jonathan House. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

Sergey Georgyevich Gorshkov, (1910–1988)

Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union and commander in chief of the Red Navy while also serving as deputy minister of defense (1956–1985). Born in Kamenets-Pedolsky, Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire, on 26 February 1910, Sergey Gorshkov was commissioned in the Red Navy on his graduation in 1931 from the Frunze Higher Naval School. He then held a series of posts in the Black Sea and Pacific Fleets. He advanced rapidly in rank and responsibility, in part due to the openings at the top levels created by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s purges of the Soviet military.

Gorshkov developed a strong combat record in the Black Sea Fleet during World War II, leading naval and amphibious operations against German forces and commanding the Danube Flotilla in 1944 during Soviet advances into Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. He was promoted to rear admiral in October 1941. After the war he commanded a squadron of ships and was elevated to chief of staff of the Black Sea Fleet in 1948 and then to commander of that fleet as a vice admiral in 1951.

Transferred to Moscow, Gorshkov was promoted to full admiral and became first deputy chief of the Red Navy in July 1955. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev appointed Gorshkov commander in chief of the Red Navy in June 1956, a position he held until 1985. He also held a dual appointment as deputy minister of defense, and in 1961 he became a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). During his long tenure as its commander, he directed the substantial growth of the Red Navy and created a guiding philosophy that was presented in numerous articles and a book, The Seapower of the State (1980).

Gorshkov argued that a strong navy was a necessity for a superpower. It served as a symbol of power and as a potent military and political instrument. His leadership moved the Soviet military from an army-dominated structure with a continental orientation to a global military power with a significant maritime component.

Gorshkov developed a naval force that reflected his theories and the realities of Soviet geography and politics. His navy followed the commitment to modern technologies, especially to the missiles and nuclear weapons that came to dominate Soviet military planning in the 1950s. The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) fleet was a key part of Soviet strategic nuclear forces. The Red Navy also developed an ability to protect the Soviet SLBM fleet operating in sanctuaries near Soviet home waters. This defensive posture was an extension of the traditional role of protecting the borders and coastlines of the homeland.

The Red Navy sustained the ability to support ground force operations, another traditional role of the Russian and Soviet navies. Gorshkov’s greatest accomplishment was developing an oceangoing fleet that could project power around the world, showing the flag in foreign ports. He oversaw the creation of the world’s second largest navy, establishing a highly visible global presence and challenging the U.S. Navy by threatening logistical routes and SLBM patrol areas. Gorshkov retired in 1985 and died in Moscow on 13 May 1988.

References Gorshkov, Sergei Georgievich. Red Star Rising at Sea. Translated by Theodore A. Neely Jr. and edited by Herbert Preston. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1974. ———. The Sea Power of the State. New York: Pergamon, 1980. Scott, Harriet Fast, and William F. Scott. The Armed Forces of the U.S.S.R. 4th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002. ———. The Soviet Art of War: Doctrine, Strategy and Tactics. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1982.

MiG Fighter Aircraft Development WWII

After operational tests of the MiG-3 powered by the M-82, produced in a small batch of five aircraft designated MiG-9 M-82, one more modification was built in 1943, this time with a boosted engine. The fighter was designated I-211No.211 (or Type 'E'). Its fuselage was reshaped to give a smoother transition from the cowling and controllable gills to the side panels, the cockpit was moved a little further aft, the air intakes of the oil cooler were positioned in the wing centre section leading edge near the fuselage sides, the shape of fin was changed and the tailplane was raised. Two ShVAK synchronised guns were housed in the wing centre section.

The flight test data obtained in 1943 were quite good. The maximum speed at 23,000ft (7,000m) was 416mph (670km/h), and only four minutes were required to climb to 16,400ft (5,000m). The second I-211 (E) prototype, which was also undergoing production tests, was not placed into series-production. Instead, the new Lavochkin La-5FN fighter with the same ASh-82FN engine (the M-82 was redesignated in 1943 by giving it the initials of designer Arkady Shvetsov) was put into series-production, using a well-developed manufacturing base, and proved itself at the front line.

The I-220(A) prototype was designed for the new 1,700hp (1,268kW) Mikulin AM-39. Pending its installation, however, the fighter was submitted for its official state flight tests in January 1944 with a production AM-38F engine with poor altitude capability. The aircraft's structure was otherwise unchanged. Thus powered, and at a flying weight of 7,8791b (3,574kg), the I-220(A) had a maximum speed of 386mph (622km/h) at 13,750ft (4,200m), service ceiling of 31 ,000ft (9,500m) and a range of 596 miles (960km). Two guns instead of four were installed, with 300 rounds.

By the summer of 1944 the AM-39 high altitude engine had been developed, and one had been installed in place of the AM-38F. Armament remained the same. Flight test data obtained during the production development tests in July and August 1944 showed a slight improvement. At gross take-off weight of 8,0401b (3,647kg) maximum speed at sea level was 354mph (571km/h), while at 25,600ft (7,800m) it was 433mph (697km/h). Time to climb to 16,400ft (5,000m) was 4.5 minutes.

For the official tests conducted at the NII WS in September the I-220(A) was powered by a production AM-39 engine and carried its full complement of four ShVAK guns, but the ammunition was slightly reduced at 400 rounds. At an increased take-off weight of 8,4541b (3,835kg) the maximum speed fell to 415mph (668km/h) at 22,300ft (6,800m), the service ceiling was 36,000ft (11,000m) and the time taken to reach 16,400ft (5,000m) was 6.3 minutes. These tests revealed a number of shortcomings, including excessive aileron and elevator loads on the control column, poor rearward view, and difficulty in achieving full undercarriage retraction without the help of pilot-induced 'g' loads.

Although the I-220(A) outperformed the operational series-production fighters, it did not go into production in 1944 because Lavochkin and Yakovlev types completely met the WS requirements and could provide the desired air superiority in dogfights with German fighters. A family of new high altitude fighter-interceptors based on the I-220(A) was developed later.

Because of the accident with the I-221 (2A) one more aircraft, the I-222 (production code '3A') prototype high altitude interceptor, was manufactured. This differed from its predecessor in having a pressurised cockpit, and for the first time in a Soviet aircraft a special cooler was provided to cool the air entering the carburettor after the first compression stage by means of the AV-9L26 four-bladed propeller. The I-222(3A) was powered by a Mikulin AM-39B-1 with a single TK-300B turbosupercharger working from the port exhaust manifold, and ejector exhaust pipes were fitted on the starboard side. Take-off power was 1,860hp (1,387kW), and at 43,300ft (13,200m) the powerplant developed 1,430hp (1,066kW).

The aircraft had two 20mm ShVAK guns, the canopy was protected front and rear by armoured glass, and pilot's seat had an armoured backrest. The airframe was of mixed construction. The machine differed from the I-221 (2A) in having the radiator moved forward from below the cockpit to a position under the engine.

The new fighter was completed in April 1944 and made its maiden flight on 7th May, being tested by A Yakimov, a highly skilled test pilot. Its speed at 22,000ft (6,700m) was 423mph (682km/h), and at 41,000ft (12,500m) it was 429mph (691km/h). Its service ceiling was 47,500ft (14,500m), a record for Soviet Second World War fighters. However, the aircraft did not go into series-production because the Mikoyan bureau was working on a better aircraft of this type, the I-224(4A).

By the summer of 1944 Mikoyan had produced another prototype, designated I-225 (production code 'SA'). Dimensions and wing area were the same as those of the I-220(A), but it had the new AM-42B engine rated at 2,000hp (1,492kW) and a TK-300B turbosupercharger. Armament consisted of four ShVAK synchronised guns. A. Yakimov piloted it on its maiden flight, on 21 st July 1944, and during tests it reached a speed of 437mph (704km/h) at 25,500ft (7,800m). However, on 9th August, during its fifteenth flight, the aircraft was damaged in an accident.

The second version, powered by the boosted AM-42FB engine with a TK-300B turbosupercharger and with pilot visibility improved, did not embark on its flight test programme until 14th March 1945, by which time the war's outcome was decided and there was no longer an urgent demand for high altitude fighters. Moreover, combat actions were now conducted outside Soviet territory. The aircraft did not achieve production.

The first prototype of the I-230(0) modified fighter went for testing in July 1943. At that time it was called the 'improved' version of the MiG-3, but later it was designated MiG-3U. The tests were conducted at the NII WS by leading test pilot V Khomyakov. The maximum sea level speed was 313mph (505 km/h), 326mph (526km/h) being reached with engine boost. At 23,000ft (7,000m) the aircraft attained 407mph (656km/h), exceeding the speed of the series-production MiG-3 by 24.8mph (40km/h). It took only 6.2 minutes to climb to 16,400ft (5,000m), compared with 7.1 minutes for the MiG-3. Service ceiling was 2,300ft (700m) higher at 39,000ft (11,900m). The I-230(0) had a range of 807 miles (1,300km).

Although the aircraft's combat features were obviously improved, pilots noted a number of shortcomings, including difficult or even dangerous landing characteristics for inexperienced pilots. After close examination of the MiG-3U's performance, the acceptance commission at the NII WS withheld its recommendation to put the improved aircraft into series-production. (MiG-3U - usovershenstvovanny, improved.) Nevertheless, the Mikoyan Design Bureau and Aircraft Plant No.155 managed to produce another five prototypes of the fighter, and in August 1943 the first, third, fourth and sixth prototypes were delivered for operational tests to the 12th Guards Fighter Air Regiment, then defending Moscow. As a result, the MiG-3U gained some approval, although a number of defects were also noted. The type was not put into series production, and the design bureau began to develop new high altitude fighters.

Proposed Soviet Battleships/Battlecruisers

The Sovetsky Soyuz-class battleships (Project 23), also known as "Stalin's Republics", were a class of battleships begun by the Soviet Union in the late 1930s but never brought into service. They were designed in response to the battleships being built by Germany. Only four hulls of the sixteen originally planned had been laid down by 1940, when the decision was made to cut the program to only three ships to divert resources to an expanded army rearmament program.

The K-1000 battleship was rumoured to be a type of advanced battleship produced by the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Cold War. Soviet intelligence agencies actively encouraged the circulation of rumours about the type, which were reprinted by several Western journals including Jane's Fighting Ships.

The Kronshtadt-class battlecruisers, with the Soviet designation as Project 69 heavy cruisers, were ordered for the Soviet Navy in the late 1930s. Two ships were started but none were completed due to World War II. These ships had a complex and prolonged design process which was hampered by constantly changing requirements and the Great Purge in 1937. They were laid down in 1939, with an estimated completion date in 1944, but Stalin's naval construction program proved to be more than the shipbuilding and armaments industries could handle. Prototypes of the armament and machinery had not even been completed by 22 June 1941, almost two years after the start of construction. This is why the Soviets bought twelve surplus 38-centimeter (15.0 in) SK C/34 guns, and their twin turrets, similar to those used in the Bismarck-class battleships, from Germany in 1940. The ships were partially redesigned to accommodate them, after construction had already begun, but no turrets were actually delivered before Operation Barbarossa.

Only Kronshtadt's hull survived the war reasonably intact and was about 10% complete in 1945. She was judged obsolete and the Soviets considered converting her into an aircraft carrier, but the idea was rejected and both hulls were scrapped in 1947.

The Stalingrad-class battlecruiser, also known in the Soviet Union as Project 82, was intended to be built for the Soviet Navy after World War II. Three ships were ordered, but none were ever completed.

A heavy cruiser was designed before the Second World War as an intermediate between the light cruiser Kirov and Chapayev classes and the Kronshtadt-class battlecruisers. The specification, or OTZ in Russian, was issued in May 1941, but plans were shelved with the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany. Construction was proposed again in 1943. After a lengthy design period, which Premier Joseph Stalin—a major supporter of the project—often had a hand in, keels for two ships were laid at the Marti South Shipyard in Nikolayev (1951) and the Baltic Works in Leningrad (1952) and a third ship was planned for the shipyard in Severodvinsk.

The Project 82 design which was ordered would have been much larger than the original intermediate design, so much so that they were considered the successors to the Kronshtadts, which had been canceled at the outbreak of World War II. As envisioned by Stalin, the Stalingrad battlecruisers' role would be to disrupt and break up an enemy's light cruisers when they approached the Soviet coast. However, after his death in March 1953, the ships were canceled by the Ministry of Transport and Heavy Machinery. Only the incomplete hull of Stalingrad was launched; used as a floating target for anti-ship missiles, it was scrapped around 1962.

The Soviet Union, by the late 1930s Soviet dictator Josef Stalin believed that his nation, like all the other major naval powers, should once again begin the construction of battleships. Ignoring the restrictions of the 1936 London Naval Agreement, Stalin ordered the construction of four battleships of no less than 58,000 tons (10,000 tons more than the contemporary U. S. Iowas) and nine 16-inch main guns (the same armament as the Iowas). The Soviets were able to purchase design assistance from the preeminent U. S. naval architectural firm of Gibbs & Cox, but their hopes to buy guns, mountings, armor plate, and perhaps even a complete U. S. battleship were frustrated by the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Sovyetskiy Soyuz, Sovyetskaya Byelorussiya, and Sovyetskaya Ukraina were laid down in 1938-1939. None was ever completed. The three ships (a fourth, Sovyetskaya Rossija, was never laid down) would have far exceeded the limits of the Washington Treaty and were scheduled for completion, optimistically, in 1941. Although it is generally believed that their construction was halted by the German invasion of the Soviet Union commencing in June 1941, building was actually canceled in 1940, and the incomplete rusty hulls, home to thousands of crows, were dismantled in the late 1940s.

Cold War Turns Hot?! Part I

Reagan administration officials in 1983 were intensely focused upon an ideological competition with the Soviet Union over arms control and the so-called Euromissiles, intermediate-range missiles that both sides were deploying in Europe then. The Americans downplayed the military threat to the Russians posed by the quick-reacting Pershing II missiles that formed part of their own deployment program, and spoke of Soviet “disinformation” attempts to affect the opinions of Western Europeans living with Euromissiles in their midst. (There are, in fact, documents, including annual KGB reports from this period, revealing Russian claims to have influenced peace movements in Western Europe.) Some former U.S. officials still argue that the Soviets conjured an apocalyptic vision of the American threat, then somehow succumbed to it themselves, believing that “the Americans were coming.” This much is beyond dispute: The Soviets were fearful in 1983, and Reaganauts were so wedded to their own propaganda messages that they were oblivious to the signs of discomfiture in Moscow. Moreover, unlike 1948, in 1983 fingers on both sides of the Cold War divide rested upon nuclear hair triggers.

The strategic situation in 1983 was not what appeared on the surface, at least from the Soviet point of view. Americans were used to the rhetoric of the “window of vulnerability,” a slogan current in the 1980 election, which denoted a time frame in which the United States was supposedly in special danger of being disarmed by a nuclear missile attack. But readers might be surprised to learn that during the final months of the Carter administration, it was the Russians who came to the Americans with a detailed briefing from their own secret data, showing a substantial and growing U.S. threat to Soviet nuclear forces. Beyond the exaggerations and the real meaning of the data (that both sides were vulnerable, depending on who went first), the point is that in 1981, going into the Reagan administration, Moscow had already demonstrated concern over U.S. military intentions.

American weapons programs lent some weight to these concerns. On its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the United States was installing a new guidance system called the NS-20, as well as higher-yield warheads. The new instrumentation greatly reduced the time necessary to change an ICBM's target; held more targets in constant memory; and substantially improved accuracy. In combination with the increased power of the nuclear weapons it carried, each Minuteman III warhead would have excellent prospects against even the most deeply dug-in Russian missile silos. The Peacekeeper, a bigger ICBM carrying ten warheads (there were three in the Minuteman), stood on the verge of deployment. In submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), the Americans were developing an improved Trident missile warhead called the D-5 that made sea-based missiles as deadly as ICBMs against hardened targets. As for Russian SLBMs, American designers were seeking new ways to target missile submarines. Meanwhile, American war planners were “gaming out” flexible response scenarios that allowed for the limited use of nuclear weapons, potentially lowering the nuclear threshold.

The KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky, who rose to be the deputy rezident (chief of station) in London, had become a double agent spying for the British. In KGB: The Inside Story, which he coauthored with British historian Christopher Andrew, Gordievsky reports a May 1981 conference among senior KGB officials in that agency's foreign intelligence headquarters at Yasenovo, a Moscow suburb. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev addressed the assembly, but his somber speech proved only the warm-up for the astonishing pessimism of KGB director Yuri V. Andropov, who told the Russian spymasters they were to begin a special effort to detect American preparations for nuclear war. The Soviets even gave the operation a name, RYAN, for the Russian phrase raketno-yadernoye napadenie (“nuclear missile attack”).

Planning and central coordination for RYAN became the responsibility of the KGB Institute for Intelligence Problems. When Gordievsky saw the initial orders that summer, he noted that data on actual nuclear weapons received a relatively low priority. A higher premium was placed on indications of U.S. or Western alliance decisions for war. Some Soviet embassies, like that at Helsinki, were instructed simply to monitor the number of windows lit up in Western embassies at night. These and additional requirements applied to KGB stations in London, Washington, and elsewhere. In 1982 the chief of the KGB institute went to Washington as the new KGB rezident.

According to George Blake, the KGB double agent with British intelligence who defected to the Soviet Union in the 1960s, another member of the small circle of British defectors in Moscow, Donald Maclean, got wind of the consternation at high levels in Soviet leadership. Maclean wrote a paper criticizing Soviet weakness in becoming mesmerized by U.S. nuclear forces. The result, he argued, was undue influence in the Kremlin by the Soviet high command. According to Gordievsky and Andrew, the KGB's American experts believed that Director Andropov's alarmist views were being fueled by the Soviet military. In fact, Russian defense minister Dimitri F. Ustinov was among the most hard-line voices on the Politburo, a fact known at the CIA and among American foreign policy experts as well as at Yasenovo. To make things worse, Brezhnev's health failed, and before the end of 1982, Yuri Andropov emerged as the new top leader in the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, the indications coming from Washington were alarming to the Soviets on both diplomatic and military fronts. On the diplomatic side, the Americans seemed to show no interest in a summit. On the military side, about the time Andropov came to power, the U.S. press featured a leak of a secret Pentagon document, the Fiscal Year 1984–88 Defense Guidance, which mandated programs designed to enable the United States to “prevail” in a nuclear war. The leaks dovetailed closely with Reagan administration budget requests for new communications networks designed to function in a nuclear environment and for a new airborne command post to serve the president in time of war. American strategists were simultaneously beginning to talk of “decapitation,” the idea of wiping out the adversary high command through a series of strikes aimed specifically at centers of government and prearranged evacuation sites.

In February 1983 a KGB document later published by Gordievsky shows Moscow giving its rezidenturas (intelligence stations) an overstated briefing regarding U.S. nuclear capabilities, plus a new list of intelligence reporting requirements. These included identifying specially equipped blast and fallout shelters, evacuation data on government officials, data about blood supplies acquired by the government, and places visited by officials most frequently outside working hours. One suggestive instruction: “Keep under regular observation the most important government institutions, headquarters, and other installations involved in preparation for RYAN.”

It is worth noting that these instructions from the KGB's Moscow center, with their hint of immediate alarm, are dated almost three weeks before Ronald Reagan's “evil empire” speech of March 8, 1983. In introductory comments to this text in a collection of his speeches, former president Reagan writes, “At the time [this speech] was portrayed as some kind of know-nothing, archconservative statement that could only drive the Soviets to further heights of paranoia and insecurity.”

On March 23, two weeks after the “evil empire” speech touched off the KGB's latest jitters over Soviet-American relations, Reagan spoke from the Oval Office and proposed his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). As the president's national security adviser, Robert C. McFarlane, makes clear in a memoir, the SDI program, particularly in the highly technological form President Reagan selected—with such frills as space-based laser weapons—represented more of a wish than a weapon. McFarlane admits, “I was a little worried about the scientific community.” Some of McFarlane's subordinates on the National Security Council (NSC) staff go further and admit that SDI was a piece of gimmickry, more a tool for intimidation than a real program. The hasty launch of the entire program is epitomized in the fact that Reagan's formal decision for an SDI, contained in a directive called National Security Decision Document 85 (NSDD-85), is dated two days after the president's speech.

In contrast to NSDD-85, there was no quality of afterthought about U.S. policy on the Soviet Union. On January 17, 1983, President Reagan had signed NSDD-75, which laid down his Soviet policy. With respect to military strategy, the memorandum had specified: “Soviet calculations of possible war outcomes under any contingency must always result in outcomes so unfavorable to the U.S.S.R. that there would be no incentive for Soviet leaders to initiate an attack.” Reagan's order had much more to say about Cold War competition, technology transfers, economic and geopolitical policy, and the like, but the war scare of 1983 would flow from the military strategic propositions of the policy.

It is a tenet of nuclear strategy that the side in distress, outclassed by the adversary, may maximize its limited chances by shooting first. That is the foundation for such bits of nuclear jargon as “launch on warning” or “preemptive attack.” As 1983 opened, the Kremlin feared an American strategic nuclear advantage, and NSDD-75 shows the Reagan administration indeed intended to act from a position of strength. The addition of SDI to the mix suggested the United States sought means to neutralize such Soviet forces as might remain following an initial nuclear exchange. Computer models show that SDI might have considerable impact blunting a retaliatory attack (“second strike”) but relatively little against a first strike. No doubt the secret war games of the Soviet general staff (and American Joint Chiefs of Staff) showed the same thing. The net effect of these developments would be that a weak adversary at some point would be forced to choose between launching a nuclear war by preemption, to preserve its “deterrent,” or permitting itself to be disarmed.

This point was appreciated in the Kremlin, and it sparked far more than a debate about esoteric strategies or stochastic nuclear exchange models. In Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, Yuri Andropov commented on Ronald Reagan's SDI just four days after Reagan's presentation. Accurately enough, Andropov summarized Washington's aim as “an intention to secure the potential with ballistic missile defenses to destroy the corresponding strategic systems of the other side, that is, to deny it the capabilities to mount a retaliatory strike, counting on disarming the Soviet Union in the face of the American nuclear threat.”

On top of these developments, the NATO allies were making final preparations for deploying America's Euromissiles as the summer of 1983 began. Two U.S. systems were involved, the ground-launched cruise missile and the Pershing II. The latter would be an accurate ballistic missile with the range to reach Moscow—and with a much shorter flight time than ICBMs based in the United States. The Pershing II posed a threat to Russian command centers, making the possibility of “decapitation” concrete. The Soviets, in turn, might be expected to use force against those places where Euromissiles were deployed, which terrified the peoples of Western Europe. For several years, peaking as the Euromissiles were about to be installed, political protests and demonstrations on nuclear issues roiled around this controversial program. In Bonn, West Germany, alone, more than five hundred thousand people took to the streets in just one of the 1983 demonstrations. But the Reagan administration refused to be deflected and moved steadily toward Euromissile deployment scheduled for the fall. This impending development, combined with lack of progress in arms control talks, cast a pall over the Kremlin. Throughout the summer, the Soviets made private and semipublic threats to walk out of arms negotiations.

Cold War Turns Hot?! Part II

Then came KAL 007. The Soviet shootdown of the Korean airliner on September 1, egregious error that it was, proved less damaging to U.S.-Soviet relations than Moscow's initial inclination to deny everything. Kremlin confusion increased because Yuri Andropov, sick with failing kidneys, had left Moscow for a Black Sea resort, his vacation becoming a convalescence. His absence from Moscow left various sectors of the Soviet apparat adrift. Washington was willing to fish in these troubled waters. Reagan's NSDD-102 declared that “Soviet brutality in this incident presents an opportunity to reverse the false moral and political ‘peacemaker’ perception that their regime has been cultivating.” There followed a series of acrimonious charges in Washington and Moscow, and the release of American recordings of radio chatter by the Soviet interceptor pilot and his controllers, which showed the fighter plane had fired without much thought for the target. Both sides alleged deception.

Secretary of State George Shultz recalls the KAL 007 incident as the end of a superpower “minithaw” summer during which Soviet concessions on human rights had opened a way to progress. That view is far cheerier than the recollections of Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, who had yet to get in to see President Reagan and who would be prevented from attending the United Nations General Assembly when U.S. authorities refused to assure landing rights and security for his airplane. Gromyko met Shultz in Madrid on September 8 to discuss European issues, but the secretary of state proved determined to press the Russians on human rights and KAL 007. Following a chilly private talk, Shultz heard Gromyko tell the larger group, “Problem number one for the whole world is to avert nuclear war.”

Don Oberdorfer, the distinguished diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, told an audience in 1993 that “Ronald Reagan was not the man I thought he was. It was a scary time from [my] perspective.” President Reagan had the Russians where he wanted them. He held the high ground in terms of propaganda and had determined to exploit the Soviet error in the KAL 007 incident. He had frightened Moscow with the Strategic Defense Initiative, had continued nuclear programs that posed dangers to Soviet nuclear forces, and had stood at the point of deploying Euromissiles that directly threatened Moscow's command-and-control centers and its political leadership. The question is: Had Reagan thought through the consequences?

According to Gromyko's memoir, at the Madrid meeting the Soviet foreign minister did not confine himself to a simple statement of the main problem. Rather, speaking “in the name of the Soviet leadership,” Gromyko went on, “The world situation is now slipping toward a very dangerous precipice. It is plain that the great responsibility for not allowing a nuclear catastrophe to occur must be borne by the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. together. In our opinion, the U.S.A. should reevaluate its policies, and the president and his administration should look at international affairs in a new way.”

No one on the American side took the point. The Russians were evil, had massacred innocent passengers, and so on. A number of senior Soviet officials, from Georgi Arbatov to Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, Moscow's man in Washington, would later agree that the KAL shootdown was a blunder. But Dobrynin would also observe that Washington's criticisms were “hasty and dangerous accusations,” and there can be no doubt that the Soviet leadership as a whole felt the same way. Though sophisticated Russians figured the checks built into the American political system minimized the risk of an unprovoked first strike against the Soviet Union, that never became a uniform belief. Yuri Andropov himself, according to Dobrynin, stood as a “probable exception” (my italics) to the view that “an attack could take place unexpectedly at any moment, like Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, or the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.” Ominously, in the Soviet system, only Andropov's hand rested on the nuclear button.

As it had been when he was director, the KGB remained responsive to Andropov's moods. Operation RYAN was in full swing. In mid-June 1983, just prior to leaving for what became his sickbed, Andropov remarked that there had been an “unprecedented sharpening of the struggle” between East and West.

KGB stations assumed a posture of increased readiness. Yasenovo followed up on August 12 with a supplement to the list of war indicators KGB officers were supposed to track. Stations were to report every two weeks. Moscow center wanted new items of intelligence that must have had KGB officers pulling their hair out. These included warning of increased intelligence efforts against the Warsaw Pact; dropping of agents and/or equipment into the U.S.S.R. or Pact countries; CIA and National Security Agency liaison with other NATO intelligence agencies; infiltration of sabotage teams; appearance of special security detachments; and increases in Western disinformation efforts. What, if anything, KGB stations reported in response to this directive remains unknown. However, the Soviet practice of fulfilling production “norms,” or quotas, and Moscow's continued alarm suggest that the KGB received at least some data that Yasenovo interpreted as preparation for war.

Other world developments heightened the sense of emergent crisis. Polish labor leader Lech Walesa, who had defied the Soviet-backed Communist government of his country, received the Nobel Peace Prize in early October. The United States exhibited outrage after a bombing in Beirut that destroyed a barracks and killed almost 250 U.S. Marines. Only days later, the Americans invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada, a friend of Moscow's ally Cuba. Washington appeared to be in an aggressive mood.

In this charged atmosphere occurred a NATO military exercise called Able Archer 83, scheduled to last from November 2 through November 11. A socalled command post exercise in which only headquarters and higher echelons participated, Able Archer tested “nuclear release procedures.” While the U.S. government obviously would have the key role in ordering the use of such weapons in wartime, the decision would have to be ratified by a standing committee of NATO national representatives, part of the chain of command. Getting a decision through this network could take half a day or more, and its awkwardness required that the system be regularly exercised. The initial plans had called for President Reagan himself to participate in Able Archer, though the maneuver was scaled back at the last moment. Had Able Archer occurred as first planned, no doubt it would have been of even greater concern to the KGB. More White House and Pentagon windows certainly would have been lit at night.

In any case, Soviet intelligence apparently panicked. According to Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB observed a change in the message formats NATO used, the kind of thing that often happens as a security device when military operations commence. The NATO command posts also transitioned through every level of readiness from peacetime activity through full alert. On November 6, Gordievsky reports, Moscow transmitted a further appeal for KGB officers to search for RYAN indicators. On either November 8 or November 9, he says, there followed a “flash” message to KGB posts ordering an unprecedented “superalert.”

There is some doubt that the superalert was actually ordered. American analyst Raymond Garthoff, among our foremost experts on Russia, concludes in a study of the end of the Cold War that any such alert would have been kept very quiet by Soviet intelligence. Garthoff interviewed a number of key Moscow officials, including the first deputies to the foreign minister and chief of the general staff, and the chief of the international department of the Communist Party, and no one had any recollection of an alert. Mikhail Gorbachev, then a Politburo member, also said the matter never came before that body. On the other hand, Gorbachev affirms the general proposition that 1983–84 proved the most delicate moment in the superpower relationship. Ambassador Dobrynin confirms that he heard of the KGB alert from his rezident in Washington. The CIA also apparently learned later from different sources that Soviet military intelligence was put on a state of high alert.

Certain concrete actions of a military nature did take place. All sources agree that a Soviet nuclear-armed tactical bomber regiment based in East Germany went on combat alert. Some others report that Russian commanders were told to take steps to secure their aircraft, ships, and weapons against surprise attack.

Fortunately for all, November 11 came and went with no move by the West, and Able Archer also ended. However, just days later, the first Euromissiles actually arrived in Europe. Moscow walked out of arms control talks, with Andropov complaining it was impossible to do business with partners like the United States.

The Russians had sabers of their own to rattle. During 1983 there were nineteen Soviet nuclear weapons tests, plus nine so-called peaceful nuclear explosions. In 1984 came another eighteen tests and eleven explosions. There were also a multiplicity of missile tests, including the beginning of testing for the large SS-24 ICBM and the mobile SS-25. Though suffering from numerous malfunctions (over half its trials were rated failures in the West), the SS-24 testing program proceeded at a rapid rate. The SS-25 program went smoothly and, if anything, even more rapidly. In submarine-based missiles, the Soviets were flight-testing their SSN-23 and conducting submerged launches from Typhoon-class submarines of the SSN-20 to test ranges in the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean.

In military maneuvers for the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces, American experts were told later, the scenarios used in 1982 and 1983 featured practice of the technique known as “launch under attack”—that is, nuclear preemption by means of offensive missile attack (in response to a confirmed attack by the other side, while the enemy's missiles are still in the air). Even more ominous, the 1984 scenario for Soviet nuclear exercises featured a U.S. surprise attack combined with a Soviet preemptive response.

Soviet defense minister Dimitri Ustinov put a public spin on developments in mid-December 1983, when he addressed a convocation of Soviet war veterans. “Imperialism is not all-powerful,” Ustinov thundered. “Its threats do not frighten us. The Soviet people have strong nerves.” The danger of such posturing lay in its fueling a cycle of misperception that could lead to crisis and war. Luckily, Ustinov chose this moment to soothe as well as warn. “No matter how complicated the political-military situation,” Russia's defense minister declared, “there is no point in overdramatizing it.”

Americans, too, were beginning to heed the drift in superpower relations. “We got their attention,” Robert McFarlane is quoted as saying at about this time. “Maybe we overdid it.” McFarlane's NSC director for Soviet and European affairs, seasoned diplomat Jack Matlock, had suggested the need to cool the other side's fears with some conciliatory rhetoric. McFarlane told Matlock to draft a presidential speech, which he did in conjunction with Shultz's State Department and White House political mavens. Later, professional speechwriters redid the first draft. As Able Archer ended, the speech stood ready, though there were as yet no plans for Ronald Reagan to mouth any of its fine phrases.

At the CIA, meanwhile, concern developed about Moscow's pessimism. Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey was hearing increasingly ominous news. Reports from Oleg Gordievsky, filtered through British intelligence, supplied the basic picture. The CIA also picked up the bomber alert in East Germany as well as certain changes in Russian communication patterns. Intelligence sources say the Soviets, though not all at once and not in an operational sequence, rehearsed every step they would take in starting a nuclear war.

Cold War Turns Hot?! Part III

Leonid Brezhnev

Periodically, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies jointly compiled studies of key issues called national intelligence estimates (NIEs). Among the most important NIEs was the Soviet estimate, and the one current at this time was NIE 11-3/8-82, approved by William Casey and circulated on February 15, 1983. Among other things, it concluded that the Russians would expect a crisis to precede a war, and during that period would “heighten their surveillance of enemy activity” in addition to shifting to a wartime posture and seeking to carry out deception measures. At the outset of any hostilities, the NIE remarked, “The Soviets would try to implement a theaterwide air offensive [in Europe]” to neutralize NATO nuclear assets. Ominously, the CIA estimate contains this: “If [the Soviets] acquired convincing evidence that a U.S. intercontinental strike was imminent, they would try to preempt.” This would be most likely if conventional war were already under way in Europe, but war out of the blue— for example, a preemptive attack based on a gross miscalculation of the other side's intentions—was not excluded. In short, the CIA's standing estimate in the fall of 1983 mirrored some of the same things that were on the minds of planners in Moscow.

Jack Matlock attended all the White House meetings where Bill Casey was present, and a more conciliatory American approach to the Soviet Union was discussed—including the presidential speech Matlock helped to draft. Matlock himself had presented a briefing in September at which President Reagan sat for a two-hour exposé of the CIA's data on the Russians. Matlock does not recall Casey pressing the president to quell Soviet fears. The CIA director liked Matlock's proposed speech as a token in the propaganda war but did not see a conciliatory gesture as unusually urgent. Matlock's recollections of Reagan's opinion of the first draft are that it contained little new; again there seemed no special urgency.

Something changed between September and December, and not through standard National Security Council channels. Matlock believes that Nancy Reagan, who favored softer rhetoric on the Russians, had much to do with it— or, rather, the First Lady's Los Angeles astrologer did. Intelligence sources say that Bill Casey, no astrologer, approached Reagan through Nancy. In this version, Casey had been won over by warnings from his Soviet analysts and set up a meeting with the president.

Secretary of State George Shultz returned from a European trip in mid-December to find a new tone at the White House. He saw the president on December 17. Reagan specifically referred to the warmer passages in Russian defense minister Ustinov's talk to Soviet veterans, with its appeal for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. Robert M. Gates, then the CIA's deputy director for intelligence, records in his memoirs that the Casey-Reagan meeting occurred on December 22. Gates quotes a CIA report presented at the meeting that cited the KGB and Soviet military intelligence alerts, remarking that the Russian posture “seems to reflect a Soviet perception of an increased threat of war.”

President Reagan decided to go ahead with the speech. He delivered it over a global satellite link from the East Room of the White House on January 16, 1984. He added a few homey touches, which turned out to be the phrases people remembered. Secretary Shultz made a speech along similar lines nearly simultaneously in Stockholm. In his memoirs Ronald Reagan writes, “Three years had taught me something surprising about the Russians: Many people at the top of the Soviet hierarchy were genuinely afraid of America and Americans. Perhaps this shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.”

Chairman Yuri Andropov reacted negatively to Washington's sally, but the Russian leader proved to be on his last legs, in rapid decline since before Christmas. Andropov collapsed during the final week of January and died on February 9, to be replaced by Constantin Chernenko, another aged leader. Chernenko also would be wary of the United States, but he lacked Andropov's sense of immediate confrontation. Moscow resumed arms control negotiations in 1984. The following year, when Chernenko passed away, Mikhail Gorbachev assumed leadership and traveled to Geneva for the first Reagan-era summit conference between the superpowers. Soviet sources report that Gorbachev at first tried to compete with the United States but soon realized the futility of the arms race.

Like the leadership, the Russian military remained skeptical of the United States. They continued a vigorous missile testing program. An article in Military Thought, the journal of the Soviet general staff, discussed the danger of war beginning under the cover of normal military exercises, then, paragraphs later, mentioned Able Archer by name. Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov commented, in a May 1984 interview with the Russian military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (“Red Star”), “With the quantity and diversity of nuclear missiles already achieved, it becomes impossible to destroy the enemy's systems with a single strike.” Nevertheless, Ogarkov opposed arms control and bore responsibility for the KAL 007 incident. He would be replaced in the fall of 1984, about the time Moscow resumed nuclear arms talks.

The Russian answer to the so-called decapitation threat posed by the Pershing II came in the form of a new technology. On November 13, 1984, a command post at Leningrad sent a missile launch order to a military radio facility near Moscow, which rebroadcast it to an SS-20 intermediate-range missile that had just taken off from the Soviet test center Kapustin Yar (now in the Ukraine). The rocket itself then transmitted a launch order to an SS-18 heavy ICBM, which fired from its silo in Kazakhstan. Here the Russians demonstrated the ability to execute an automated launch of their missile force. Without knowing exactly which rockets were configured as airborne launchers (and destroying them), or blanketing all of Russia with high levels of radio interference (physically very demanding), there would be no way to preclude a Russian missile launch. In effect, the Russians had created a “doomsday machine,” an automatic system capable of wreaking destruction even after the immolation of the Soviet Union.

Despite numerous subsequent arms control treaties and the peaceful demise of the Soviet Union, as well as the end of the Cold War, the existence of the doomsday machine is troubling. As recently as 1993 the Russian automatic launch system continued in service; insofar as we know, it remains active today. This kind of automaticity inherently increases the danger of war by accident or miscalculation. It is sad that the security pressures of the early 1980s made such a system seem desirable to Moscow.

Meanwhile, the KGB's Operation RYAN did not simply disappear. Annual reports of the Russian intelligence service discovered in a Moscow archive show the KGB continued to report on RYAN indicators until at least 1987. Documents published by Gordievsky show KGB orders concerning RYAN still flowing as late as 1984. Russian fears apparently continued throughout Gor-bachev's rule; RYAN ended in 1991.

In Washington, Ronald Reagan would not be the only American surprised by the depth of Russian anxiety. The CIA, acknowledges Robert Gates, failed to appreciate the dangers in spite of its own people's warnings. Only in March 1984, when Gates read a British compendium of reporting from double agent Gordievsky, did he realize that Soviet leaders must have really been alarmed. Two points stand out. First, since the British share information with the CIA, the Gordievsky data on RYAN must have been of concern to the CIA's Directorate of Operations. Either the CIA spooks discounted the reports, the operations people would not share them with CIA analysts, or the British never passed along some of the Gordievsky data. Significantly, Gates writes that his agency finally went to President Reagan only after it learned that Soviet military intelligence had received the same sort of alert order as Gordievsky claimed for the KGB. Apparently, the KGB's move to a “war footing” was insufficient for the CIA to spring into action.

Second, in its heart, the CIA still did not believe the war scare had been real. People remember details of what they were doing and where they were at critical moments, and the discovery that the world had come close to a nuclear war has to be classed as such a moment. Robert Gates, however, does not recall where he was when he read the British retrospective on Gordievsky. Even more concrete, in 1984 the CIA commissioned a special national intelligence estimate (SNIE) on whether American intelligence had been missing the point. The paper was drafted by National Intelligence Council chairman Fritz W. Ermarth, a Russian specialist who had been brought back to the CIA from the RAND Corporation, and was a veteran of the National Security Council staff. The paper, SNIE 11-10-84/JX, titled “Implications of Recent Soviet Military Political Activities,” held that each of the unusual Russian actions (for example, the bomber alert) could have had an innocent explanation, short of Moscow's succumbing to a war scare. The actual deployment of Euromissiles, not Able Archer or anything else, was taken to be the stimulus for Russian fears. Interestingly, the CIA paper conceded what some American propagandists liked to deny—that the advent of the Pershing IIs had to be worrisome for the Russian leadership.

Intelligence analysts remained divided on the issue for over a year before the press of other matters laid this one to rest. But Bob Gates remained disturbed, however, and followed up in 1990, when he was on the NSC staff as deputy national security adviser. The president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board revisited the war scare. Its study, still not made public, reportedly concluded that U.S. intelligence had missed the boat on an actual crisis.

Looking back at the Cold War, Americans have had a temptation to gloat over supposed victory. Those who do for the most part have no idea how close hysteria came to ending it all in the early 1980s. Moscow's fears cannot be dismissed as self-induced—a result of the hype the Soviets had been putting out about America's Euromissiles. “It's not reducible to that,” says Raymond Garthoff, “not by a long shot.” Able Archer, writes CIA chieftain Robert Gates, marked “one of the potentially most dangerous episodes of the Cold War.” Worst of all is the understanding that the United States, dedicated to its own war of words, dismissing the views of the other side as mere propaganda, remained oblivious to a brush with Armageddon. That was one hell of a game of chicken.

Soviet Delta-class submarine threat!

When the Soviet Delta-class submarine entered stage right in December 1972, the U.S. Navy shuddered. With a quiver of twelve R-29 ballistic missiles, each capable of delivering megatons of destruction from almost 5,000 miles away, the Delta made U.S. ASW techniques all but obsolete. Prior to the Delta’s arrival, Soviet ‘boomers’ with shorter-range missiles, in order to get close enough to the United States to launch, needed to transit from Murmansk, curve around Norway, and drop down through the Greenland/Iceland/U.K. gap. A swarm of American ships and planes greeted them there, as well as several fast-attack boats ready to latch on like trained bulldogs. With the advent of the Delta class, the Soviets could employ a new strategy: slip under the Arctic ice north of Murmansk and hide for months on end. When and if the order came to fire, they could sneak from under the ice cap, come shallow, and launch. By the time a U.S. submarine found them, it would be too late.

The Delta class rivaled America’s Benjamin Franklin’class boomers in every way. In fact, the United States had actually fallen behind in this area, having not launched a new ballistic missile submarine since the USS Will Rogers (SSBN-659) hit the water in April 1967. Fortunately, U.S. attack submarines were a bit more advanced, but these capable work horses were ill equipped to find Delta submarines hiding under an Arctic ice floe, and no acoustic or signals intelligence yet existed on the Soviet’s new boat. Without that intelligence, finding a Delta in open waters posed a problem.

The issue of locating these ‘ice boats’ consumed the navy and the NSA, but they were not completely caught by surprise. Anticipating such an advancement from the Soviets, the navy had launched a new ASW program in 1964 that gave the Classic Bulls Eye program some stiff competition for funding. Under the direction of Vice Admiral Charles B. Martell, the Long Range Acoustic Propagation Project (LRAPP) sought to bring heretofore scattered ASW technologies and efforts, including SOSUS, under a single roof. Employing only a few scientists and requiring modest funds in comparison to other programs, LRAPP conducted scientific experiments and exercises that teamed top ASW civilian minds with navy counterparts. Unfortunately, all of the initial experiments failed. The brass threatened to cancel LRAPP until Dr. Marvin Lasky at the Office of Naval Research saved the day.

Lasky helped deploy a miles-long string of acoustic hydrophones towed by a ship or submarine. He called this invention the Interim Towed Array Surveillance System (ITASS), which was, essentially, a movable SOSUS sonar array. The experiments with ITASS that followed proved critical in finding a way to detect Soviet submarines in northern waters near Murmansk. During the height of the program, two opposing scientific camps stood their ground. The LRAPP scientists believed that sound in the ocean traveled in a straight line, or directionally. This meant that sound characteristics would differ depending on where they originated, and submarines could be detected from very far away. Others, including a team of AT&T scientists, argued that noise didn’t travel in straight lines, and subs could only be heard if they were not too distant.

Current SOSUS arrays in the Atlantic could not detect Deltas in the Arctic. The navy wanted to extend SOSUS into the North Atlantic to fix this problem. AT&T scientists, convinced that their ‘omnidirectional’ sound viewpoint was correct, insisted that this move would be a waste of money. SOSUS arrays wouldn’t be close enough to the Arctic to do the job. The LRAPP engineers thought otherwise and challenged AT&T to a duel, with the stakes being the demise of the $180 million SOSUS expansion. If the AT&T scientists were right, the project was doomed. If the LRAPP scientists were correct, SOSUS lived. Moreover, future ASW capabilities could be dramatically improved, tipping the scale back in America’s direction.

After a two-week experiment in which ships towed the new ITASS arrays, the LRAPP team took home the gold. They proved that sound propagated directionally. This led to the permanent installation of SOSUS in the North Atlantic and the development of ITASS arrays that could be towed by attack submarines. Soviet vessels could now be detected from far greater distances than ever before. The navy also ordered operational and procedural changes in the world of antisubmarine warfare and increased funding for ICEX Arctic experiments conducted on a tiny ice floe north of Alaska.

Sonar, weapons, and other systems on submarines operate differently in Arctic conditions versus open ocean areas. To better understand these dynamics, every two years, the navy sent two fast-attack submarines to a moving ice floe in the Arctic, a few hundred miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Over a two-week span in the warmer month of March, a team of more than sixty naval personnel, along with civilians from the Arctic Submarine Laboratory and Applied Physics Laboratory, teamed with support personnel and a few cooks to build a temporary base camp for Operation ICEX. Two attack boats spent two weeks conducting experiments on new sonar and communications systems designed for Arctic conditions and firing practice torpedoes at each other. Scientists monitored results and used these findings to improve system and weapon designs for Arctic use.

These improved designs found their way into a new class of U.S submarines originally launched on March 3, 1967.

These Sturgeon-class attack subs boasted vast improvements in quieting technology, coupled with the latest espionage gear. The Soviets had nothing in their attack submarine deck that compared. By 1973, after the success of the LRAPP experiments, the navy expanded SOSUS to twenty-two installations in the Atlantic and Pacific.

American engineers leveraged ITASS and HFDF technologies to design towed sonar arrays and miniaturized versions of Boresight/Bulls Eye detection and DF technologies that could be installed on U.S. ships under the Classic Outboard program. These smaller HFDF systems also found their way onto Permit (formerly Thresher) and Sturgeon-class submarines as integral parts of BRD-6 and-7 ESM systems. Now when Ivan transmitted a burst signal, lit off a radar, turned a screw, or farted into the wind, an American T-Brancher or sonar tech could catch the scent.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Bear went through the cloud

   The Bear went over the mountain,
    The Bear went through the cloud,
    The Bear went over the mountain,
    To see what they could see.

    And all that they could see,
    And all that they could see,
    Was the other side of the cloud,
    The other side of the cloud,
    The other side of the mountain,
    Was all that they could see.

"The Bear Went Over the Mountain" is a popular children's song often sung to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".

Soviet DUKWs

ZiS-485 (BAV) Soviet amphibious truck (Museum of Great Patriotic War, Kyiv)

The amphibious truck that became universally known as the 'Duck' first appeared in 1942, and was a version of the standard CMC 6x6 truck fitted with a boat-like hull to provide buoyancy. It derived its name from the GMC model designation system - D showed that it was a 1942 model, U that it was amphibious, K indicated that it was an all-wheel-drive model, and W denoted twin rear axles. From this came DUKW, and this was soon shortened to 'Duck.

The Duck was produced in large numbers. By the time the war ended 21,147 had been built, and the type was used not only by the US Army but also by the British army and many other Allied armed forces. Being based on a widely-used truck chassis it was a fairly simple amphibious vehicle to maintain and drive, and its performance was such that it could be driven over most types of country, In the water the Duck was moved by a single propeller at the rear driven from the main engine, and steering was carried out using a rudder behind the propeller; extra steering control could be achieved by using the front wheels. The driver was seated in front of the main cargo compartment, which was quite spacious and could just about carry loads such as light artillery weapons - it was even possible to fire some weapons such as the 25-pdr field guns during the 'run in' to a beach. The driver was seated behind a folding windscreen and a canvas cover could be erected over the cargo area. For driving over soft areas such as sand beaches the six wheels used a central tyre pressure-control system.

The Duck was meant for carrying supplies from ships over beaches, but it was used for many other purposes. One advantage was that it did not always have to unload its supplies directly on the beach: on many occasions it was able to drive its load well forward to where the freight was needed and then return. Many were used as troop transports and the number of special-purpose versions were legion. Some were fitted with special weapons, such as the 114.3-mm(4.5-in) rocket-firing version used in the Pacific and known as the Scorpion. Mention has been made of field guns firing from the cargo area, and some Ducks were armed with heavy machine-guns for self-defence or antiaircraft use. A tow hook was fitted at the rear and some vehicles also had a self-recovery winch. Twin bilge pumps were fitted as standard.

Many Ducks were sent to the USSR, and the type so impressed the Soviet army that the USSR produced its own copy, known as the BAV-485. This differed from the original by having a small loading ramp at the rear of the cargo area. Many of these BAV-485s are still in use by the Warsaw Pact nations, and the DUKW still serves on with a few Western armed forces. The British army did not pension off its Ducks until the late 1970s.

The Duck has been described as one of the war-winners for the Allies and certainly gave good service wherever it was used. It had some limitations in that the load-carrying capacity was rather light and performance in rough water left something to be desired, but the Duck was a good sturdy vehicle that was well-liked by all who used it.

Rods from God

by John Macneill Space-based weapons have exceptionally disparate advantages and disadvantages: They are extremely powerful and difficult to defend against, but they’re also expensive to launch and maintain and they’re in constant motion above the Earth. John Macneill

Space-launched darts that strike like meteors
By Eric Adams
This technology is very far out—in miles and years. A pair of satellites orbiting several hundred miles above the Earth would serve as a weapons system. One functions as the targeting and communications platform while the other carries numerous tungsten rods—up to 20 feet in length and a foot in diameter—that it can drop on targets with less than 15 minutes’ notice. When instructed from the ground, the targeting satellite commands its partner to drop one of its darts. The guided rods enter the atmosphere, protected by a thermal coating, traveling at 36,000 feet per second—comparable to the speed of a meteor. The result: complete devastation of the target, even if it’s buried deep underground. (The two-platform configuration permits the weapon to be “reloaded” by just launching a new set of rods, rather than replacing the entire system.)

The concept of kinetic-energy weapons has been around ever since the RAND Corporation proposed placing rods on the tips of ICBMs in the 1950s; the satellite twist was popularized by sci-fi writer Jerry Pournelle. Though the Pentagon won’t say how far along the research is, or even confirm that any efforts are underway, the concept persists. The “U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,” published by the Air Force in November 2003, references “hypervelocity rod bundles” in its outline of future space-based weapons, and in 2002, another report from RAND, “Space Weapons, Earth Wars,” dedicated entire sections to the technology’s usefulness.

If so-called “Rods from God”—an informal nickname of untraceable origin—ever do materialize, it won’t be for at least 15 years. Launching heavy tungsten rods into space will require substantially cheaper rocket technology than we have today. But there are numerous other obstacles to making such a system work. Pike, of GlobalSecurity.org, argues that the rods’ speed would be so high that they would vaporize on impact, before the rods could penetrate the surface. Furthermore, the “absentee ratio”—the fact that orbiting satellites circle the Earth every 100 minutes and so at any given time might be far from the desired target—would be prohibitive. A better solution, Pike argues, is to pursue the original concept: Place the rods atop intercontinental ballistic missiles, which would slow down enough during the downward part of their trajectory to avoid vaporizing on impact. ICBMs would also be less expensive and, since they’re stationed on Earth, would take less time to reach their targets. “The space-basing people seem to understand the downside of space weapons,” Pike says—among them, high costs and the difficulty of maintaining weapon platforms in orbit. “But I’ll still bet you there’s a lot of classified work on this going on right now.”


But there is a HUGE flaw in this whole scenario, and that is that you cannot simply "drop" something from an orbital platform. The platform and everything attached to it is all traveling at the same orbital velocity, so if the rod is "dropped" it will simply continue to drift along in the same orbit. The only way to get it to 'fall' to earth is to reduce its velocity. This adds a second problem - recoil. If you propel it with a firing mechanism, similar to a bullet, the momentum taken from the projectile will be added to the platform, changing its orbital characteristics - and not by an insignificant amount. In order for such a system to function it would require the rods to have their own self contained firing mechanism AND to have any degree of accuracy the mechanism would have to be ultra-precise - in essence making our simple kinetic energy/mass weapon a complex guided missile.


January 3, 1999 - Mars Polar Lander lifts off on its ill-fated mission to Mars. This NASA probe is to land within about 600 miles of the Martian South Pole, along with dropping two surface-penetrating darts. Contact with the probe is lost on December 3, 1999 as it is descending through the Martian atmosphere and it is never heard from again, the first failure of a U.S. planetary soft landing in 30 years.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Antonov An 22 Antei

The mighty Antei was once the world's largest airplane and established several weight and altitude records that still stand. Despite its sheer bulk, it handles well and operates easily from unprepared airstrips.

Russia is characterized geographically by huge distances and varied topographical features that can make surface travel difficult, if not impossible. Air transportation is a possible solution, but this means that equipment must ferry huge quantities of cargo and supplies in order to be meaningful. In 1962 the Antonov design bureau was tasked with constructing a huge transport plane to facilitate the shuttling of military goods and services around the country and the world. In only three years, a functioning prototype emerged that stunned Western authorities when unveiled at the Paris Air Salon in 1965. The massive An 22 Antei (Antheus, after a huge son of Neptune in Greek mythology) was a well-conceived enlargement of the previous An 12. Like its predecessor, it was circular in cross-section and possessed wheel fairings under the fuselage. It also sports a capacious cargo hold and a pressurized crew and passenger cabin. To facilitate operations off wet and unprepared airstrips, pressurization of the six pairs of wheels is controllable from the flight deck and can be changed in midair to suit any landing surface. The secret to the An 22's prodigious hauling ability is found in the trailing-edge flaps. These are designed to utilize the powerful prop wash flowing over the wing from the four contrarotating turboprop engines and provide added lift. Its military implications were obvious, and since 1969 an estimated 100 of the giant craft have been built and deployed. The NATO code name is COCK.

The An 22 was the world's biggest airplane following its debut and established many useful world records. The only Soviet transport capable of freighting a T-72 tank, it was employed by the USSR as a propaganda machine during many "humanitarian" flights abroad.

After entering service, the An-22 set 14 payload to height records in 1967, the pinnacle of which was the airlift of 220,500 pounds (100 metric tonnes) of metal blocks to an altitude of 25,748 feet (7,848m). It also established the record for a maximum payload, 221,443 pounds (104,445kg), lifted to a height of 6,562 feet (2,000m). A number of speed records were also set in 1972, including a speed of 328 knots (608.5km/h) around a 540 nautical mile (1,000km) closed circuit with a 110,250 pound (50,000kg) payload. Several other speed-with-payload records were established in 1974 and 1975.

This giant reigned supreme until 1968, when an even larger craft, Lockheed's C-5A Galaxy, premiered.


    Prototypes built at Kiev-Svyatoshino with glass nose, three built.
    Initial production variant with external start system, 37 built at Tashkent.
    Improved variant with air-start capability, modified electrical system, and updated radio and navigation equipment, 28 built at Tashkent.
    Conversion of two An-22s to carry wing centre sections or outer wings of Antonov An-124 or An-225 externally above fuselage. Fitted with third centreline fin.




Monday, February 2, 2015

How Russia outfoxes its enemies

One of the "little green men" - Russian soldiers without insignia spearheading the 2014 annexation of Crimea

Vladimir Putin in Crimea, May 2014 after the region was annexed.

Russia's annexation of Crimea last year caught almost everyone off guard. The Russian military disguised its actions, and denied them - but those "little green men" who popped up in the Black Sea peninsula were a textbook case of the Russian practice of military deception - or maskirovka.

At a cadet school in the southern suburbs of Moscow, Maj Gen Alexander Vladimirov heaves two enormous red volumes off his bookcase and slams them down on the table. "My Theory and Science of Warfare," he says, beaming. "It's three times longer than Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace!"

Vladimirov, vice-president of Russia's Collegium of Military Experts, is an authority on maskirovka - the hallmark of Russian warfare and a word which translates as "something masked".

"As soon as man was born, he began to fight," he says. "When he began hunting, he had to paint himself different colours to avoid being eaten by a tiger. From that point on maskirovka was a part of his life. All human history can be portrayed as the history of deception."

Vladimirov quotes liberally from the Roman general Frontinus and the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu who described war as an eternal path of cunning. 

But it's Russia, he tells me, with unmistakable pride, that has over the centuries really honed these techniques to perfection.

One of the most famous examples is the Battle of Kulikovo Field in 1380, when the young Muscovite, Prince Dmitry Donskoy, and 50,000 Russian warriors fought against 150,000 Tatar-Mongolian soldiers led by Khan Mamai. It was the first time the Slavs were fighting as a united army - Russia against the Golden Horde.

"The fighting was very tough, but we eventually triumphed thanks to one regiment hiding in the forest," says Vladimirov. "They attacked ferociously and unexpectedly and the ambushed Tatars ran away."

But that was just a start. Vladimirov reels off some more recent legendary battles in which Russia outfoxed its enemies, with flair and cunning.

There was the Jassy-Kishinev operation of August 1944, which featured dozens of dummy tanks as well as whole Red Army divisions sent in false directions to throw the Germans off the scent.
And that came just after Operation Bagration in Belorussia had dealt Hitler's troops a devastating blow.

"It was clear the military skill of Soviet leaders outclassed the Germans," Vladimirov says. "Our generals decided not to go the easy way along the road but through the swamps! That way they attacked the rear of the German forces. That's mastery for you! All throughout Bagration, there were colossal examples of maskirovka involving thousands of tanks and troops. After that the war was practically over."

Out of 117 divisions and six brigades, half were destroyed and the rest suffered 50% losses - half a million Germans died there.

Surprise is a key ingredient in maskirovka and the clandestine forces which occupied Crimea last February certainly delivered that.

Pyotr Shelomovskiy, a Russian photojournalist, was there as they arrived. He had rushed down to Crimea expecting tensions to arise after Ukraine's Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country - and on 24 February he watched local pro-Russian activists building a small barricade on the square outside parliament.

"They started brewing tea and distributing drinks. Some journalists, myself included, were allowed to take pictures," says Shelomovskiy, "and that was it for the night." 

Or so he thought. But in the small hours, unmarked military trucks drove up filled with heavily armed men.

"They ordered those demonstrators to lie face down on the ground - until they realised they were on the same side," says Shelomovskiy. Then they made them carry ammunition into the parliament.

He was told this story by the activists the next morning. "They didn't really understand themselves what was going on," he says.

The troops which had arrived in the dark, as if by magic, with no insignia on their olive-coloured uniforms, were soon nicknamed "little green men".

"We know now these guys were Russian special forces," says Shelomovskiy. "But no-one said so at the time."

Denial is another vital component in maskirovka. At a press conference a few days later Vladimir Putin coolly batted away awkward questions about where the troops came from.

"There are many military uniforms. Go into any shop and you can find one," he said.
But were they Russian soldiers? Poker-faced, the president said the men were local self-defence units.

Five weeks later, once the annexation had been rubber-stamped by the Parliament in Moscow, Putin admitted Russian troops had been deployed in Crimea after all. But the lie had served its purpose. Maskirovka is used to wrong-foot your enemies, to keep them guessing.

Maj Gen Gordon 'Skip' Davis, in charge of operations and intelligence at Nato's military HQ in Belgium, admits it took him and his colleagues some time to figure out the "size and the scale" of the troop reinforcement which was "continuously denied by the Russians".

But if Nato was taken by surprise, the historian and journalist Anne Applebaum was not.
"I knew immediately what it was because it reminded me of 1945. It looked so familiar," she says.

"With Crimea I got a bizarre sense of deja vu, because bringing in soldiers who weren't really soldiers - that was what the NKVD did in Poland after the war. They also created fake political entities which nobody had seen before, with fake ideologies already attached to them… It's a game of smoke and mirrors."

After Crimea came the war in eastern Ukraine. Officially there are no Russian troops or little green men fighting there either - only patriotic volunteers who have gone to the region on holiday.

But there is growing evidence of Moscow's intervention in the separatist conflict including a mounting toll of Russian soldiers killed in action.

In August Russian TV showed footage of water and baby food being loaded on to lorries heading for Ukraine's war zone. The Russian government called this humanitarian aid but many were more than a little suspicious. Nato already had plenty of intelligence about Russian air defence and artillery forces moving into Ukraine.

Maj Gen Davis calls the first convoy "a wonderful example of maskirovka" because it created something of a media storm. TV crews breathlessly followed the convoy, trying to find out what was really inside the green army trucks which had been hastily repainted white. Was this a classic Trojan horse operation to smuggle weapons to rebel militias? And would the Ukrainian authorities allow the convoy in?

"All the while at other border crossing points controlled by the Russians - not by the Ukrainians - equipment, personnel and troops were passing into Eastern Ukraine," says Davis. He sees the convoy as a clever "diversion or distraction".

The fog of war isn't something which just happens - it's something which can be manufactured. In this case the Western media were bamboozled, but the compliant Russian media has also worked hard to generate fog.

Ukrainian novelist Andrei Kurkov says he is constantly amazed by what he calls "the fantasy and imagination of Russian journalists". One of the most lurid stories broadcast on a Moscow TV channel claimed that a three-year-old boy in Sloviansk - a town in eastern Ukraine with a mostly Russian-speaking population - was crucified... for speaking Russian. 

The TV report is still online. A blonde woman, her voice choked with emotion, tells a serious-looking Russian news reporter that the three-year-old child was nailed to a wooden notice board in front of his mother and died in agony. The mother she alleges, was then tied to a tank and dragged through the streets until she died. She adds that she is risking her life by talking but wants to protect children against Ukrainian soldiers who behave like beasts and fascists.

"The lady claimed she'd witnessed this horrible story in Sloviansk," says Kurkov. "But then she mentioned the name of the square where it happened and this square doesn't exist in Sloviansk. There's no such place."

As Kurkov says, the story doesn't stand up. It emerged that the woman eyewitness had a history of filing false police reports and her own parents said they thought she'd given the interview for money.
The elements of maskirovka
  • Surprise
  • Kamufliazh - camouflage
  • Demonstrativnye manevry - manoeuvres intended to deceive
  • Skrytie - concealment
  • Imitatsia - the use of decoys and military dummies
  • Dezinformatsia - disinformation, a knowing attempt to deceive

TV and the digital world are awash with similar reports. A group of Kiev journalism students who set up a website to expose fake stories say some approaches are more sophisticated than this, mixing truth and falsehood to produce a report that appears credible. But even an incredible story may serve to confuse, and create uncertainty.

Peter Pomerantsev, who recently spent several years working on documentaries and reality shows for Russian TV, argues that Russian state media are not just distorting truth in Ukraine, they go much further, promoting a seductive nihilism.

"The Russian strategy, both at home and abroad, is to say there is no such thing as truth," he says.

"I mean, you know, 'The Americans are bad, we're bad, and everyone's bad, so what's the big deal about us being a bit corrupt? You know our democracy's a sham, their democracy's a sham.'

"It's a sort of cynicism that actually resonates very powerfully in the West nowadays with this lack of self-confidence after the Iraq War, after the financial crash - and that's what the Russians are hoping for, just to take that cynicism and then use that in a military environment."

Of course, every country uses strategies of deception. Churchill famously said: "In wartime, truth is so precious she should always be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies." The Americans call such tactics CC&D - concealment, camouflage and deception.

So what sets Russia apart? Maj Gen Skip Davis argues Western forces are sometimes economical with the truth but says they don't tell outright lies: "We are talking about denial of information - in other words, not confirming facts - versus blatantly denying. Saying, 'No that's not us invading, that's not our forces there, that's someone else's.'"

But what about the false information that propelled Britain and the US into war with Iraq? Few would now deny that the facts on WMD were massaged in a maskirovka-type way. The word Davis keeps coming back to is "mindset". He insists maskirovka has become a modus operandi for Russia itself.

"I think that there is an alignment between what probably started out as military doctrine, but now is much more a part of state policy and there's an alignment between the strategic down to the tactical level in terms of the mindset of maskirovka."

This perception is nothing new for Russia's neighbours. A decade ago Andrei Kurkov predicted recent events in Ukraine in his book, The President's Last Love. He writes in Russian and most of his books are on sale there but this one was stopped at the border.

"Putin is one of the main characters," he says. "In this book he promises the Ukrainian president that he will annex Crimea and cut the gas supply and lots of other things that later became reality - this is the reason why the book is banned."

Isn't it uncanny that he managed such accurate predictions?

"I don't think it was difficult - somehow when you live in a not very logical world, when the logic of absurdity prevails and the players don't evolve - it's actually quite simple."

Maskirovka: Deception Russian Style was broadcast as part of the Analysis series on BBC Radio 4 - listen to the programme on BBC iPlayer or download the podcast.