Created: 7/7/1972

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Response to Questions on Soviet/PRC Airlift Capabilities to North Vietnam, Introduction of New Weapons, and Use of PRC Airfields

Ouostion A. USSR/PRC Airlift Capabilities

1. What is the capacity of.c and the USSR to airlift to NVN? How many aircraft suitable for airlift operation doos each nation havo? (What portion of total Soviet nirlift capability would be utilized to deliver the estimatedetric tons per day?)

The USSR, andesser extent the PRC, eachindependent capabilityaircraft, staging airports, and trained manpowerto institute an airlift to NVN. The extent of this capability as measured against the limitations on available aircraft, airports, routes, and serviceability is discussed below. Rather than taking0 tonsiven, wo have worked through the methodology not only to answer the specific questions asked but to check on the validity of0 ton estimate itself.


The USSR hasigh-performance transport aircraft in their combined military and civil inventories (see Because of operational range and cargo carrying capacity however, it is probable that only the medium transportnd heavy transportould be used in such an airlift and that only aircraft in the military inventory would bo involved.

-nrnni T

2nd seven days

After 14

thesehe cargo carrying capacity of thi-fleet would, permit0 tons of cargo to be airlift* during the first two weeks and morpnnn fnno



wo weeks :and more thanons per week

'ita. .estimate thattilization rate the

USSR could probably maintain its airlift effectively for about.

?hich period carriage wouldons per

Those utilization factors reflect historical experience of other7 Soviet airlift operations including those noted in field exercises within the Soviet Union. (See

For the -purposes of this estimate we have assumed that thowill carry its maximum pay load ofons and theillittleons. These loadings would permit -either aircraft to fly non-stop to NVN. (See


Moreover, for this analysis we assumeotal inventoryircraft of this type) andotalould bo made available because of other military The following tabulation shows the cargo carrying capacity of this fleetircraft, assuming one round trip

PPGr day' andtilization factor for the firsthe next week,hereafter.*

Time Period




seven days

seven days


utilization factors reflect historical experience of other Soviet airlift operations including those noted in field exorcises within the Soviet Union. (See paragraph

the purposes of this eatinate we have assumed that theill carry its rcaxinun payload ofons and thoillittleons. These loadings would permit either aircraft to fly non-stop to NVN. (See

Under these conditions, the cargo carrying capacity of this fleet would permit0 tons of cargo to be airlifted during the first two weeks and more0 tons per week thereafter. We estimate thattilization rate the USSR could probably maintain its airlift effectively foronthsch period carriage wouldons per day.


b. PRC

Any airlift mounted by the PRC would essentiallyhort haul operation. Nonetheless, such an operation would be hampered by the overall mix of available aircraft which is relatively obsolete and has limited cargo carrying capacities. For example, the PRC's combined military and civil air transport inventory numbersircraft. Of this number, moreonsist of the single engineange ofilesargo capacityons. An additionalre made up mainly of the twin enginedhich can carry onlyons andange of0 miles. Ten other relatively modern aircraft, three Tridents and seven Vicounts, are excluded from consideration in this analysis because of their key role in Chinese civil and military air operations. We are, therefore, left with onlyircraft for any airlift operation (see For this estimate wo assume no more than one half of these aircraft (by type and subordination) would be made available for such an airlift. arger allocation probably would cause massive dislocations of regular civil and military air traffic within the PRC. Kith theseircraft tho PRC would be able toelatively efficient airlift using close in staging bases in South ChinaKunming, Nanning, Ning Ming, and Fort Bayard. The following tabulation postulates the cargo carrying capacity for these aircraft subject to the same serviceability constraints applied to the Soviet fleet.*

Time Tons per Week



After 14

- Although the PRC would be operating older aircraft, their

u Gntail consi<terably shorter flight time. On cms oasis no changes were made in serviceability ratesases,the maximum cargo payload was used as the basis for

We estimate that during the first two wcoks the PRC could move inons of cargo andons per week thereafter. tilization, the PRC could probably maintain its airlift foronths. At its peak the airlift could deliverons per day which would be nearly halved aftor only two weeks.

2. What limiting factors exist in using PRC and USSR aircraft lor airlift purposes?

Factors limiting the use of Soviot and PRC aircraft have been mentioned and taken into account in the estimates presented above. Tho constraints on aircraft serviceability may, indeed, te tho single most important factor, particularly as they may affect the Soviet program because of its long haul nature. To the extent that aircraft suffer increasing levels of down timo as the airlift proceeds, additional aircraft would either have to be added to the program or would have to be rotated in and out of the effort. Taking into account respective inventories, the USSR has greater flexibility than does the PRC.

3. What cir routes and air terminal points might be utilized (including through India for USSR flights)?

The Soviet airlift could operate over two possible routesone viaosecond via Irkutsk transiting PRC airspace. Of the two, only the PRC route would be realistic; the0 miles roundtrip) involved in the India route would reduce cargo carrying capacity by more than one half. The China routeoundtrip ofiles. The effort could be launched from staging airports such as Tashkent, Omsk, Senipalatinsk, Novosibirsk, Usol'ye-Sibirskoye, and Irkutsk. Theircraft would likely be operatedingle airport, probably Irkutsk. Theould operate from any or all of these six airports, but likely would be concentrated at one or two, including Irkutsk. Both aircraft wouldefueling stop either in North Vietnam or more likely at airports in southern ChinaKunming, Nanning, Ning Ming, and Fort Bayard. The terminal points in North Vietnam wouldew airports such as Yen Bai and Phuc Yen, but possibly including Cat Bai, Hanoi/Gia Lam, Kep, and Kien An. Because


of required runway longth, theould probably be limited to operating Into Phuc Yen airport; theould use all of the airports listed above. During the first week the Soviet estimateotallights per day handled by sixaily flights the second week;lights thereafter. The PRC estimateotallights per day during the first week; aily flights the second week; andlights thereafter. North Vietnamese facilities could readily handle tho PRC airlift, but they may be stretched to the maximum in handling the Soviet program which would require at its peak an average of more thanandings per day at each of the six airports, and at its lowest aboutandings per day.

4. Assuming no authority to interdict USSR and/or PRC aircraft in-flight, what is our estimate of our capability to destroy items at the off-loading point?

The North Vietnamese would have difficulty in moving even the minimum daily tonnages contained in tho Soviet estimate. Efficient movement would require expeditious handling and transporting of the cargo out of the environs of the airports. Some cargo almost certainly would be backed up and susceptible to destruction by air attack. If we assume that the airfields would not be attacked while the Soviet aircraft are on the ground, this means that the trucks might seek protection by being parked close to the Soviet or Chinese aircraft until nightfall at which time supplies would be moved out of the area. To the extent that night air attacks could be conductedustained basis, the supply flows from the airfield would offer lucrative targets. However, at the present time most airare being flown during the day and it is questionable how, effective night operations could be made under the high thVcnt situation at most airfieldsthe airfields in question aro well defended by AAA; SAMs, and HIGs and the interdiction effort would be difficult and costly. Attacks against runways, however, would disrupt operations if carried outust.iir.ed and concentrated manner. Because of the much smaller tonnages involved, we anticipate that tho North Vietnamese could handle the PRC airlift with much less difficulty, and could quickly disperse the arriving cargoes.

Question B. New Weapons

The introductionarge, Soviet-manned SAM force into North Vietnam would seriously degrade US bombingin the area. Assumingorce were to include improvedquipment andndquipment, the effectiveness of US attacks against targets in North Vietnam would be reduced for several reasons:

the incased number of SAM launchers and the

higher proficiency of Soviet crews would result in increased US aircraft losses.

deployment of the SA-It andowould increase the low-altitude coverage ofsystem, thereby reducing US attack options.

mobility of thendouldagainst these systems more difficult.

greater number and vaiiety of SAMcomplicate the US electronic eoui.terraeasures problem.

Question C. Use of PRC Airfields

Several factors would limit the military advantage that might result from changing the rules of engagement to permit hot pursuit of North Vietnamese aircraft using Chinaanctuary. Combat in the Sino-North Viotnamese border regions would be conducted at minimum range for North Vietnarn&f. aircraft but at long range for US land-based aircraft. Fuel constraints would impose at least some limits on tactics and maneuver for US aircraft, whereas the North Vietnamese would gain from the proximity of GCI radars immune from attack.

By fw the greatest military disadvantage that must be considered in any decision to remove tho buffer zone, however could arise from the virtual certainty that accidentialof Chinese territory would result, coupled with China's demonstrated willingness and capability to dofend its airspace. The Chinese can conduct intensive air patrols of the entire North Vietnamese border, andrief intrusion into Chinese territory could draw an immediate response. otal of athinese jet fighters are currently based at Ning Ming, T'ien-yang, Nanning, Meng-tzu, and Ssu-mao airfields, and more cquld be deployed quickly to Ping-yuan-chieh (and to tho other airfields as well) if the Chinese chose. All six airfields areautical miles of the North Vietnamese border and capable of supporting defensive fighter patrols. Onlyndre now basod in the border region, but small numbers ofere active there during the previous US bombing campaign, and they could return on short notice.



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c. How many Latin American Governments follow this procedure? How many don't follow it?

Thereountrios in OAS. ow trade with Cuba. There is small but growing exchange with Chile (sugar for beans andith Peru (sugar for fishnd with Mexico. Mexican trade consists primarily of Cuban imports of Mexican corn, almost all of which are on Soviet account. Latin American islands trading with Cuba are Guadelupe, Martinique, and Jamaica. This trade, owever, is insignificant. Available statistics on the trade of these countries with Cuba1 is given in the tabulation below, (in)


Insig. Inoig. Insig.

0 Insig. Insig. Insig.

Cuban Exports Cuban Imports

Chile Peru Mexico Jamaica Guadelupe Martinique

Question 3. As far as Latin American policy goes, what

-difference does it make it they did ship government or government-financed cargo to Cuba?

In economic terns probably none. Of the trade mentioned above, we are not aware that any Latin American exports have involved government or government financed cargo. He doubt that there would be any significant amount of government or government financed trade with Cuba, with the possible exception of Chile.

Original document.

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