Created: 4/1/1977

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Top Secret-

Interagency Intelligence Memorandum


The Significance of Sovieleployments in West Africa


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Deptoyment of Soviet navalong-rangeaircraft to Conakry and the staging of operational flights from there ts in keeping with the pattern of evolving Soviet out-of-area naval operations.

eployments to Conakry begun3 are one elementoviet effort to expand the area of its maritime surveillance which includes deployments to Cuba, Somalia, and. very recently to Angola. Operating from all four of these countries, as well as from Soviet bases on the Kola Peninsula, Bear Ds can conduct operations over virtually any area of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

In general.perational missions add little to thc Soviet strategic threat to the continental US. However, Bear Ds staging from Conakry, Cuba, and Soviet bases in the Kola Peninsula, contribute to the threat to Western naval forces operating in thc northern Atlantic Ocean, including the western approaches to the Mediterranean.

The use of airfields in Guinea and Angola has extended the Soviets' area of air reconnaissance into parts of the South Atlantic which they could not reach from Cuba or the USSR.

In peacetime Bear Ds operating from Conakry can perform ocean surveillance, collect intelligence, fly search and rescue missions, and provide support to the Soviet manned space flight program.

1 ThU Interagency Inlrfiigcncc Memorandum -oi produced by (he National Intelligence Of'icet for Conventional Force!coolributloni and concurrence from CIA. Slate/INR. and DIA.


The ocean surveillance mission is partorldwide Soviet effort to monitor Western naval surface forces to provide reasonably accurate knowledge of the disr>ositions of these forces at the inceptionrisis or hostilities.

In peacetime much of the reconnaissance effort and intelligence collection in the eastern Atlantic now performed by Bear Ds from Conakry could be accomplished by missions staged from the Kola Peninsula or Cuba. However, flight time to these surveillance ureas would be increased and on-station time over thc objective would be reduced.

The wartime roles of the Bear Ds include tactical reconnaissance in support of Soviet naval operations, direct targeting of US/NATO navalaircraft carricrsQ


Bear Ds constitute an extremely important component of the Soviet ocean surveillance system for locating and targeting surface forces at

other components, singly or in combination, do notomparable alternative to Bear D. but enhance thc effectiveness ofperations.



If the Soviets should lose access to Guinea, they would probably seek to reestablish their capability in another African country. Most of thc countries are poor and some might be tempted to allow Soviet use of facilities in return for aid.ariety oflogistic, technical, andoroviet effort toeconnaissance capability in West Africa.



Deploymenl of Soviet navalong-range reconnaissance aircraft to West African airfields ii In keeping with the pattern of evolving Soviet out-of-area naval operations. Soviet naval reconnaissance aircraft andesser extent antisubmarine warfare aircraft have participated In deployments to foreign airfieldsut these deployments have been Increasing in frequency, duration, and numbers of countries visited since the.

eployments to Guinea, begunre but one elementoviet effort to expand the area of its maritime surveillance. Similar operations began in Cuban Somaliand in Angola in1 Operating from all four of these countries, as well as from Soviet bases In the Kola Peninsula. Bear Ds can conduct operations over virtually any area of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. From these airfields Soviet Naval Avialion (SNA) aircraft contributeoviet military capabilities through enhanced ocean surveillance, improvedto respond lo International crises andcontingencies, and increased opportunities for inielligence collection.

S separate deployments by pairs of Bear Ds have been made to Conakry. These flights primarily have been conducted to provide thc Soviet ocean surveillance systemapability fot monitoring Western naval operations and carrier transit lanes in thc Atlantic Thc aircraft remain in Conakry an averageongest period wasays and thc shortestays. At leasteconnaissance missions have been flown during these deployments. Nine missions have involved known reconnaissance activities of varying tntensily againsi US Navy or NATO ships; four or five may have been correlated with suppoit of deployed Soviet naval units; and sis or seven have represented aircraft participation in major Soviet fleet exercises, including

jvltl Naval Aviation unil which included shorter rangeeconnaissance aircraftconiirKiiiilr maintained in Egvpl82

five during thc Soviet worldwide naval exerciseany of thc other flights, whose purposes are not known, may have been search missions against US or NATO ships or to areas where such ships might be expected to operate.ircraft have operated from Conakry during two periods of tension, the Middle East war In3 and thc Angolan dvll war.

the most recent deployment, pairsDs flew six rrconnalssanoa rotations; threeUS Navy and other NATO forcesexercise in the western approaches to theSea. Identification of the units involvedassessment of the scope and character ofwere probably Intelligence objectives ofSuch operations offer the Soviets anto gain realistic experience and to increaseto accomplish Ils wartime roles.


Peacetime Uses

Theepresents an efficient combination of performance capabilities (Urge search area, long endurance, and rapidvailable sensors (radar, electronic intercept equipment, cameras, and the significant humannd operational flexibility which Is unique among Sovietplatform* Theighly adaptable multimission aircraft configured to perform peacetime missions of ocean surveillance, intelligence collection, aid in search and rescue, and support to the Soviet manned space flight program

Heconnaissance against Western naval forces offers opportunities for visual, photographic, and electronic intelligence (KLINT) collection Irom which data regarding ship configurations, associated aircraft, weapons, and electronic equipments may be


Wartime Rolo

to the aircraft

include tactical reconnaissance in support of Soviet naval surface ships, submarines, and aircraft strike forces, and direct targeting of US/NATO navalaircraft

hips, whether they are intelligence collectors, combatants, or even merchant ships, do compete with the aircraft identification capabilities but lack the speed, reiponsivencsi. or search wrea capabilities of the Bear D



ear Ds are part of the Soviet Navy's general purpose forcesr


The Soviet Ocean Surveillance System isof several complementary components of which thes but one. Used In conjunction with other elements of the Soviet Ocean Surveillance provide key locating and targeting data on surface units at sea The other system components do not provide an alternative lo the contributions of the Bear D.

The Soviet High Frequency Direction Finding (IIFDF) networkajor portion of surface reconnaissance data duilng peacetime when ships are freely emitting Iheir radio signal*

Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satelliteshile able to search large areas, lack the frcalbility, responsiveness, on-stalion time, and target identification abilities of Ihe manned aircraft




IS. Whiletaging from Conakry adds little lo the Soviets' strategic threat to the continental US, these aircraft, along with Bear Ds singing from Cuba and the Kola Peninsula, contribute to the threat lo Western naval forces operating in the northern Atlantic Ocean including thc western approaches lo the Mediterranean Sea. As indicated above, Bear Ds arr an citiemely important element in Soviet ocean surveillance During peacetime, the generalf Western naval surface forces Is monitored for contingency purposes so thai the Soviet! would have reasonably accurate knowledge ol the positions of Western surface forces at Ihe inceptionrisis or hostilitiesartime situation this knowledge would facilitate subsequent targeting o' Western forces.


The use of West African airfields hai extended the Soviets' area of airborne reconnaissance Into pacts of the South Atlantic Ocean which Ihey could no< reach from Cuba or the USSR.

the period of heightened tensionand during the Arab-Israeli War of OctoberDs were deployed to Conakry continuouslyP

Qand conducted at least three missions against US naval forces operating In the eastern Atlantic area. The Soviets were obviously employing these forward staged reconnaissance assets to ascertain the extent of US naval reaction to the crisis and specifically to identify the forces Involved.

In peacetime much of the Intelligenceand reconnaissance effort In the eastern Atlantic now performed by Bear Ds from Conakry could be accomplished by missions staged from the Kola Peninsula. However, flight time to the surveillance area would be greatly Increased and on-station time over the objective would be significantly reduced.

econnaissance flight, on-station time Is traded off with the distance of the search area from the airfield of origin. For every hour of on-station time, transit time must be reduced by roughly the same amount. Thus, aircraft from the Kola Peninsula can reach thc area west of Cibraltar and other mid-Atlantic areas but because of the distances involved they haverief on-station time. Aircraft from Guinea on thc other hand, can reach these same areas much more quickly and conduct search or intelligence collection for an extended time period.

If Conakry were not available toeployments, the Soviets would have to modify their reconnaissance effort over the northern Atlantic by relying more heavily oo flights from the Kola Peninsula or Cuba. Because of the distance involved, Conakry is also attractiveefueling stop for Bear Ds deploying to Luanda; the Bears which deployed to Luanda in [anuary refueled there. The landing rights available to SNA in Guinea and the recently acquired access to Luanda abo offer the Soviets an alternative though lengthy air route to bases in Somalia, should Iran elect to deny ihem overflight rights for their usual route

in addition lo their military value.eployments to Conakry and elsewhere in Africa contribute to Soviet political objectives in Africa. In President Sckou Tourcs view. Ihes are partoviet naval presence which protectsgainst

perceived threats from unfriendlybe periodic presence of Bear Ds in Conakry is probably not widely known in Africa, But, in general evidence of Soviet military presence is unsettling to moderate African stales which are already fearful of the consequences of the Soviet and Cuban presence In Angola. Such fears have caused some of these stales to be Increasingly concerned with local defense arrangements and with possible threats to their security encouraged by the USSR and Cuba.

vi. Alternate deployment sites

the Soviets should lose access to Guinea,probably seek to reestablish their capabilityWest African country. No country inwould automatically acquiesce In such anumber of ihem. however, are badly In needassistance and might be tempted touse of facilities In return for aid.are other factors that would hamper or thwarteffort Co relocate.

logistic and Operational Considerations

cons (derations suggest Moscowan airfield close to pott facilities wherecould call to provide fuel, supplies,support

unway length would presumablyery important factor Runway requirements vary widely with ibe load carried by tbe aircraft, weather cooditiom. and tbe presence of obstacles at the end of lhe runway. Forear could make an emergency landingunway as shorteters Under ideal conditions it could take off fully loadedeters Conditions rarely are ideal, however, and thc Soviets have usually sought and obtained runways ateters long for regular peacetime operations. During war or crisis, they would probably use ihoitci mnways if necessaiy.

udging from pastperations, we believe the support requirements forircrafteployment of two to thiee weeks are modesteter luiiway airfields with reasonably complete support facilities for aircraft in general can aceorrtmodateperations with only minimal supplementary personnel and material "reded The pattern has been for twoedium transports, or in the case ofingleo precede each pair of Bear Ds to their overseai deployment sites.

Blrcfafl bring fhe eitra personnel, ground support equipment and spare parti necessary for the lyplcal oul-of-area deployment ol Bear Ds. The use of TU-IHs for Cubanictated by the long distance over wafer rather than differing support requirements

Capo Verde

he Soviets probably would find tht Sal International Airport In Cape Verde the mostamong alternative existing facilities that could adequately supportperations. Despite thc adequacy of Sal. for political reasons it is highly unlikely lhat the Cape Verde government would agree to the necessary support and other arrangements

t present, civilian aircraft of all nations may use Sal. but military aircraft are permitted to use It on an ad hoc basis only. The Soviets could offer badly needed economic aiduid pro quo. So long as aid It available from other Single-nation and international louices, Cape Verde would be unlikely tooviet bid.

hile closely linked to the radical Cuinea-Bissau by

governing pohbcal party, thc basically moderate Cape Verde government Is seeking to maintain its nonaligned posture in foreign relations It hat good relations with the US. which Is III third most important source of economic assistance (after the Netherlands andape Verde has close ties with the US because of the large Cape Verdean community residing in the US.


O0 meter runway of Btssnu airfield it too short lor toulineequirements ERcctivc use of the field would require lengthening the runway and upgnidlng the facilities. While the Soviets may have done some resurfacing of the runway, it has not been lengthened. As an alternative, the Soviets mightew air port for the Cuinea-BUsau governmeni. hut there is no evidence of any such cowtruclion

Despite important current Soviet economic and military assistance and its more radical stance in foreign relations. Guinea-Bissau like Cape Verde also desires to keep Iree of great power rivalries and Is not

likely lo be receptive lo any future Soviet request for staging facililtei for Bear Ds in lelurn for increased aid


A Soviel offer of significantly Increased military or economic assistance to debt-ridden Mali, in return fortaging rights, would probably be tempting. However. Mali does not share Cuinea's acute suspicion of its neighbors, probably feels co needrotective Soviet military presence. The governmeni would think twice about how such an agreement wiih the Soviets would impact on theajor aid donor to Mall

In any event, the Soviets are upgrading airfields In Mali The runway of thc old Bamako airport is currently being lengthenedossible objective is to provide improved facilities for Soviet transport aircraft in case of future airlifts to southern Africa. Malian as well as Cuinean airfields were used during the Soviet airlift to Angola.

Mall ts an unlikely choicetaging urea for Bear Ds, however, for several reasons. Its landlocked localion could raise potentially serious problems of overflight rights needed to permit tegularperations. Similarly, the lack of open sea access would complicate logistic support, particularly in time of crisis.

Other Possibilities to tho South

A number of countries fattber south might be receptive to Ihe staging oflights. However, their location fur from fhe aircraft's usual operating area in the northern Atlantic would makeoor alternative lo Conakry.

Benin. From rhe political point ofromising candidate would beelf-pro-elaimedtate in desperatestraits Benin Is particularly suspicious of the Wesl and Is Insecure since the mercenary raid on Cotonou In mid-January. Despite its professedBenin ha* not been paiticulatly close Io the Soviet Union, preferring Instead the North Korean model of socialist development. Also, fhe Soviets are probably wary of the inherent instability of Beninese institutions that has resulted In numerous changes of government since the country's independencea Sovicl commitment to ertend comlderahle economic and defense assistance to Benin might win it air and naval rights In return. In thisoviet amphibious ship has recently conducted Ihc first naval visit Iu Benin. However. Cotonou airfield witheter runway n inadequate Inr routine


staging of Bear IE" tension ol lhc runway would be difficult became of thc field'* closeness to the city and the sea

Equatorial Guinea. Air facilities in Equatorial Cuinea. both on the mainland neat Bata and on Francisco Made island (Fernando Po) are currently inadequate for Bear Ds Runways areeters, and no new const ruction has been detected. Although Equatorial Cuinea is poor and getsaid Irom Communist countries, its erratic president has been so suspicious ol the Soviets that he would be unlikely to grant ttaglng rights lor Bear Ds. Even If he did. he might withdraw permission lor the most capricious of reasons.

Angola. The USSR and Angolariendship treaty Inlthough Bear Ds deployed for the first time lo lAianda this winter, we

do not know if the Soviet-Angolan treaty provides for their regular staging there. Nevertheless, under present circumstances, the Angolan government would be unlikely tooviet request to use Luanda for regular Bear Dthc new government's concern to maintain an Image of nonalignmcnt. The fact remains, however, thai Angola, locatedilometers farther than Conakry from the usual northern Atlanticperating areas.oor substitute for an airfield In Cuinea.


echnically, Algerian airfields wouldeasible alternative to Conakry. Although the Soviets have good relations with Algeria and have landing rights there for thehich supporteployment to Africa, It Is unlikely that Algeria would grant staging rights for Bear Ds.

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