HIGH LEVEL MEETING ON PROJECT AQUATONE WITH ATTACHMENTS

Created: 5/3/1957

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

MEMORANDUM FOR; SUBJECT:

7 Director of Central Intelligence High Level Meeting on Project AQUATONE

explained to youay, the paper to be handed by you to the President at the May 6th meeting has been cut downrief status report. opy is attached hereto and copies have been sent to the Air Force

It is understood that the following topics which are now excluded from the formal paper will be raised by you, probably In this order, for discussion at the meeting:

Lower Priority Targets.

RAINBOW Program.

on-Military

Modification of Operational Concept.

I haveeparate paper on these four topicstheelieve we should take on each. Copies of this paper have gone to the Air Force who are fully aware of our views. This paper is also attached hereto. (Tab B)

I hardly need remind you that the third of these topics is the sensitive one because there is not fullbetween the Air Force and ourselves on this matter. ave drafted the paragraph on this topic with great care in an attempt to emphasize that the difference between the Air Force and ourselvesifference in our estimate of what our own political authorities would prefer. rge you to emphasize that our disagreement is of this nature, since we have no desire to maintain an overflight capability unless weetter chance than the Air Force of being allowed to use it, while the Air Force has no desire to stop us if they .are convinced that this is the case. It follows that instead ofebate with the Air Force about tha views of the political authorities it is simpler to ask what they are.

I know that it is difficult to control the course ofeeting as the one planned for the 6thould urge you toajor effort at least to raise all four

ArPROVlO FOR RELEASE

of these topics so that we can try to get, if not clean-cut decisions, at least sotae feeling for the President'sepeat, the Air Force is well aware that these issues will be raised.

5. ave preparedhird piece of paper whichumber ofope you will have anto use in favor of letting us operate. (Tab C)

(Signed) RICHARD M. BISSELL, JR. Project Director

III

3 May7

A

PROJECT

Heather conditions are generally favorable for

aerialmost of Siberia from

April through October and in the Far East are moderately good in summer and at their best during the autumn. ElimiJAUMlMIYrs

AQUATONE Detachments are now in place and op-

erationalfour aircraft each and

three aircraft. They fly occasional weather

missions in support of their cover and high altitudemissions, all over friendly territory. Theout occasional reconnaissanceMiddle East.

the Bermuda Conference in March, theon its own initiative offered to permitAQUATONE to be conducted from bases in the Unitedthus reversing the earlier negative decision.

similar military capability is currentlyby the Air Force which isACAir Forceircraft. This unit willready and available for deployment by 1

now appears thatill befrom interception at least through the presentseason and possibly, under certainlonger. Nevertholoss, both its margin ofand the security surrounding this operationto continuous erosion so the AQUATONEbe regardedasting asset.

for the Current Season: Additional hardobtainable only through aerial reconnaissance is

.urgently required, especially on developments andhaving to do with Soviet guided missiles, nucloar weapons, and intercontinental bombers. To cover thirty-five such targets which have been selected by the Intelligence Community as having tho highest priority sbould require some twelve to fifteen successful missions, taking account of normal weather patterns. If permission is granted to conduct

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these overflights it ww proposed that they be undertaken only as highly favorable weather materializes so as to obtain maximum coverageinimum number of sorties. This wouldate of operation of only one to three missions per week.

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paper on AQUATONE authorityf the Project and pi season. All other is attention on the majo was agreed, however, of the Air Force that discussed orally with lines indicated under

for submission to higher brief account of the current status ans for operations during the current sues were excluded in order toecision required at this time. It in conversations with representatives the following additional matters bo the political authorities along the each heading.

Alternative Lower Priority Targets: If authority cannot now be granted to overfly some or all of the highest priority targets In the USSR, it is important to determine whether:

(a) Overflights of the following lower priority areas (listed in the order of priority) should not be conducted:

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(b) There is sufficient prospect of receivingater date authority for overflights of the USSR to warrant postponing operations over lower priority areas.

2. The RAINBOW Program: During tho last nine months significant progress has been achiovod through this Project in the development of radar camouflage;. It is believed that the radar roflectivity ofircraft can be so reduced as toood chanceajority ofmissions will avoid detection entirely. Nevertheless, it must be anticipated that atertain proportion of them will be detected, although their continuous tracking should be extremely difficult. Our plan is to equipircraft with this protection if and as it is operationally developed. If It is effective, it will reduce not only the

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likelihood of detection and tracking but also the possibility of interception even after the Soviets have developedor missiles capable of operating at extreme altitudes.

Maintenanceon-Military Oyerflight Capability: The principal reason for developing the AWATOrlE capability originallyIA framework (butoint Air Force/ CIA Project) rather than in the Air Force was to maintain greater security, employ deeper cover, use civilian pilots, keep the aircraft outside of military control, and therefore, make possible more plausible denial. militaryin the face of any Soviet charges. On the other hand, it can be argued that an operation of this character can be conducted as securely by military units operating undercover as by the Clandestine Service, that the distinction between military and civilian control is irrelevant to the possibility of denial and therefore that this tool isno more usable for overflights in the hands of the Clandestine Service than in tho regular military Although this issue could be debated at length between this Agency and the Air Force, what is really Important is the attitude- of the political authorities of our Government. The decisive question is whether they believe (rightly or wrongly) that the useircraft for overflights by tho Clandestine Service will give rise to lesser risks ofor counteraction than their useactical military arm. If this does turn out to be their view, It would seem to be worthwhile to continue the present Joint operationrobably with some changes inand cover andeduced scale, in order to maintain the capability where it would bo most likely to be used. Meanwhllo the parallel Air Force capability would boseparately. If, however, the political authorities believe that the political risks are the same for nonmllltary as for military overflight operations, then it is proposed that CIA's equipment be transferred to tbe Air Force at the end of the current reconnaissance season.

Proposed Modification of Operational Concept: If the prosont joint project organizedIA framework is continued beyond the present season, consideration will be given to the following modifications of presentconcepts. Their purpose would be to reduce the political hazards to which overflights give riso or to bo

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prepared for unfavorable political developments and thus to renderapability politically more usable.

use of, pilots

in order to heighten the possibility ol plausible NinuunviMR denial.

modificationew of theto permit basing thorn on an aircraftthereby to avoid the exposure of friendlyto political and diplomatic pressures.

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TAB C

37

AQUATONE7

BRIEFING NOTES FOR DCI

The following are points you may wish to make orally in the forthcoming meeting on AQUATONE.

Russian awareness. overflights, thougha source of irritation, should increase their willingness toealistic mutual inspection system and in particular an effective version of the open skies proposals. The knowledge that they cannot altogetheraerial reconnaissance should increase the attractiveness to themlan to control and regularize it..

Although overflights can be regarded as provocative, it is difficult to understand how they could provoke any counter action except the most vigorous efforts at The Russians know, even if no overflights are conducted, that .our offensive air capability exists. They have given every evidence of believing correctly that overflights are conducted only for reconnaissance purposes. Above all,that it is possible for our aircraft to overfly their country beyond the reach of Interception, perhaps carrying high yield weapons, wouldowerful deterrent to overt attack no matter how "provoking".

Two missions over Bulgaria, one over the Caucasus area of the USSR in December and one inadvertent overflight of the Caucasus in April have been detected by the Soviets without, however, provoking any diplomatic protest. This may suggest only that deep penetration missionsew sensitive areas, or missions which penetrate the USSR after being tracked by

the Satellites, are apt toiplomatic reaction. It .may also be evidence of greater sensitivity to missions flown

4. The President's Advisory Committee on Foreignhas unanimously recommended that overflight missions be resumed.

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