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Chapter 4 the Final Overflights of the Soviet Union, 1959-1960

Chapter 4 the Final Overflights of the Soviet Union, 1959-1960

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Published by Stotza
The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance - The U-2 and Oxcart Programs (Approved for release 2013.06.25)
The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance - The U-2 and Oxcart Programs (Approved for release 2013.06.25)

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Published by: Stotza on Aug 19, 2013
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03/24/2014

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001
4
Approved
for
Release
2 1
The
Final
Overflights
of
the
Soviet
Union,
1959-1960
THE
U 2
AND
THE
MISSILE-GAP
DEB TE
Despite President Eisenhower s reluctance
to
send U-2s over the Soviet Bloc, he once again authorized overflights
in
the summer
of
1959, after a pause
of
more than a year. The overriding factor
in
his decision was the growing
missile-gap
controversy, which had its roots
in
a series
of
dramatic Soviet announcements during the second half
of
1957. The first announcement revealed the successful test
of
an intercontinental ballistic missile
in
August. Then
in
October, the Soviets announced the successful orbiting
of
the world s first artificial earth satellite, Sputnik. One month later the Soviets orbited a second satellite containing a dog and a television camera.
o
many Americans. including some influential members
of
Congress. the Soviet Union s space successes seemed to indicate that its missile program was ahead
of
that
of
the United States. By the spring
of
after the United States had launched several satel-gap between the two superpowers new concerns arose that arsenal
hapter
4
159
 
COOl
0094
hapter
4
160
Launch
of
Sputnik
4
ctober
1957
Approved for Release 2013 06 25
Premier
Nikita Khrushchev
asserted that the
Soviet
Union had an
ICBM
capable
of
carrying a
5-megaton
nuclear
warhead 8,000
miles. These
statements seemed
all the more
ominous
because,
during
this
same
month
of
December,
the first
attempt
to
launch
the
new
US Titan ICBM failed.
In
reality. all
of
the Soviet
statements
were
sheer
propaganda; they had encountered difficulties with the
SS-6 lCBM, and
the program was at a standstilL As a result, there were no
ICBM launches
from
Tyuratam
between
29
May
I
958 and
7
February
1959, a space
of
almost
nine months. To
conceal
the difficulties in their missile program.
Soviet
lead
ers
continued
to
praise its alteged successes. At the
beginning
of
February
1959,
Khrushchev opened
the
Soviet Communist
Party Congress in
Moscow
by claiming that
serial
production
of
intercontinental ballistic rockets has been
organized.
Several months
later
Soviet Defense Minister Rodion Malinovsky stated that these missiles were
capable
of
hitting
precisely
any
point
and added,
Our
army
is
equipped
with a
whole
series
of
intercontinental,
continental
and other
rockets
of
medium
and
short
range. When
asked
at a press
conference
to c
omment
on
statemem
, President
Eisenhower
also said that
they
invented the
ma
-
ch
ine
and
the
aummobile
and the and
other
should be
$0
r P~
fl
 
( ffl
not
2m
t e
d
 
4
Approved for Release: 2013 06 25
As
concern about Soviet missile progress increased, even the interruption
in
Soviet ICBM testing was seen as evidence
of
a Soviet advantage. Although the CIA correctly reasoned that the Soviets were experiencing difficulties
in
developing
an
operational ICBM, the Air Force assumed that the Soviets had halted because the missile was ready for deployment. The controversy intensified early
in
February 1959, when Secretary
of
Defense Neil
H.
McElroy testified before the Senate Preparedness Investigating Committee on Soviet missile capabilities for the next few years. McElroy told the Senators that
in
the early 1960s the Soviet Union might have a 3 to 1 advantage over the United States
in
operational ICBMs. McElroy stressed that the gap would be temporary and that at its end the United States would enjoy a technological advantage because it was concentrating on developing the more advanced solid-fueled missiles rather than increasing the number
of
obsolescent liquid-fueled missiles, but
it
was his mention
of
a 3
to
l missile gap that made the headlines. Administration critics such as Senator Stuart Symington quickly charged that the actual gap would eventually
e
even larger.
5
Faced with rising public and Congressional concern about the missile gap. Defense Department officials pressed President Eisenhower to authorize renewed overflights
to
gather up-to-date information about the status
of
the Soviet missile program. Following a National Security Council meeting on
12
February, Chairman
of
the Joint Chiefs
of taff
Twining, Secretary
of
Defense McElroy, and Deputy Secretary
of
Defense Quarles stayed behind to talk to the President about overflights. They hoped that the need to refute criticism
of
the missile gap from Symington and other Democratic
I.J '' ' 'a
the President
t
loosen his policy on the use out that no matter how often Alien
I I
161

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