NORTH VIETNAMESE AIR CAPABILITIES INCREASING

Created: 2/9/1966

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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Mr Bromley Smith

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NORTH VIETNAMESE AIR CAPABILITIES INCREASING

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DIRECTORATE OK INTELLIGENCE Office of Current Intelligence

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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Office of Current6

INTELLIGENCE MEMORANDUM

North Vietnamese Air Capabilities Increasing

North Vietnamese nowmalladvanced supersonic jet fighters, possiblysome type of air-to-air missile, and theyadvantage of operating from bases much nearer

the area of probable conflict than do US aircraft. It is nevertheless unlikely that they can seriously challenge US air superiority over North Vietnam. The US air forces continue to have numerical superiority, better weapons systems and radar, and better trained pilots. Although North Vietnamese pilots haveertain degree of increased aggressiveness during the past two weeks, they will probably continue toonsiderable degree of caution in engaging US strike aircraft.

DRV Fighter Defenses

North Vietnamese air force hasin strength since the first jotintroduced in Hanoi now appears

to haveet fighters, eleven of which areishbeds. All of theay be equipped with air-to-air missiles.

s the most significantthe North Vietnamese inventory. It is in athe best US fightershantomnow flying protection missions over It nears or equals the speed,radius, and attack capabilities of Thes more maneuverableUS fighters at high altitudes, but its weapons

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and supporting radar do not match their capabilities. North Vietnam does not now have enougho challenge US air superiorityonsiderablethe order olbe required toerious threat.

4. Ofragots/Frescoes ln the North Vietnamese airimitodprobablythought to be the all-weather version. These fightors could also bo equipped with air-to-air missiles.

5. The number oi qualified North Vietnamese

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nan. Half of these,re thought to be com-IAMIMSYn bat qualified. These pilots have been trained in orth Vietnam. There are definite indicators that other North Vietnamesewho fly thetrained in the Soviet Union. At present, there areof these pilots in North Vietnam. How many others arc now in training in the USSR is unknown, but lt is probable thatflight instruction is being given by the.

Evidence of Increased Capabilities

7. The North Vietnamese air force has displayed an increased aggressiveness since the resumption of US air strikes. On at loast four occasionsorth Vietnamese MIGs have been active against US strike forcos. On two of these occasions, theinvolvedefinite hostile intent. One of the aircraft even Ignored national boundaries and pursued its targetiles into Laos.

unusual aggressiveness, whicha new-found confidence derived from theof advanced equipitviit and the increasedof DRV pilots and ground personnel,remain limited in scope. More determinedon small groups of three or four US fightersaircraft and their fightercan be expected.

Problems in US Air Operations

patrols over North Vietnam areby the distances involved and the lack oftactical air control system. out of bases in Thailand are refueled prior

to entry into North Vietnam, giving theminutes flying time over North Vietnam. Fighters from Da Nang and Seventh Fleet aircraft carriers aro not refueled and haveinutes of flying time over North Vietnam. This time is reduced when air engagements increase the fuel consumption. The DRV MIGs, on the other hand, have approximately one and one-half hours flying time over the DRV.

of US fighters is exercised froma GCI radar site at Da Nang air base,GC1 site along the Laos-Thai border,S destroyer in the Gulf oi Tonkin, and

an airborne platform flying at low altitudes over the Gulf. These radarsange of approximatelyiles. US fighters operating in the northwest DRV or areas north of Hanoi are in the fringe areas of radar control and must rely on their own airborne radar and airborne COMINT platforms for warning of HIGs aloft.

Thereew Southeast Asia Tactical Air Control System (SEATACS) on tho way to cocpletlon which will create an integrated air control system effective over all of North Vietnam. This project was begun in

Despite the difficulties, there is no doubt that the US will continue to control the air over North Vietnam for some timo to come. In addition to the overwhelming numbers of aircraft that the US can put into the air, those fighters are equipped with superior air-to-air missiles and airborne radar than that which is estimated to be in North Vietnamese hands. Equally important, the average experience and training of US pilots is far superior to that of the North Vietnamese.

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Original document.

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