ON THE APPROPRIATE UTILIZATION OF THE OXCART RECONNAISSANCE CAPABILITY

Created: 11/29/1965

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ON THE APPROPRIATE UTILIZATION OF THE

OXCART RECONNAISSANCE CAPABILITY

McGeorge Bundy has raised the thoughtful question to which this memorandum is directed:

"Granted that OXCART now represents an operationally ready reconnaissance with unique capabilities, under what circumstances and in what areas should we commit this new resource?"

The OXCART was conceiveduccessor toor conducting overflights of the Soviet Union. With its evolving defensive electronic capability, it is now able to perform this task. However, with currentreconnaissance of the Soviet Union, it is not

necessary to consider running the risk of such a

provocation. I

inrrea replacementsatellite photography. It could notgeneral search coverage of CORONA, but couldresolution coverage of known targets, such asprovided in part by it isedge against

this contingency that the OXCART might be held,commiting It to more immediate intelligencerequirements discussed

If the OXCART is not to be held in reserve for

Soviet overflights, it is urgently needed in theQ Southeast Asia arena. This assertion may seem surprising in view of the variety and number of photographicsystems now being applied to this area. Photographyital intelligence ingredient; both for

DATE: AUG 2QQ'J

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following the tactical situation in North Vietnam/

2. overage of both Northconstrained to avoidarticularly serious limitation I

targeted againstndrowing problem. On the other hand. |

perations arerapiaiy cnunging weather limitations, are able to generate manynd lend themselves to promptexploitation. They are the principal resource at present, but have serious and in-creasing limitations on their area of operations.

3. The drone program is the last major element of our capabilityt and is important because its use

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can be attempted over heavily defended areas. Sixty drone missions have been launched thus far5 in Southeast Asia withosses:o enemy action ando system malfunction. Although its vulnerability to enemy action is increasing, it still represents an important adjunct to theapability.

Against this varied background of collection capabilities, one must examine the present needs for intelligence information and the likely trend of those requirements and their urgency.

We judge that our first need is for substantially improved reconnaissance in the area of NVN north of the

Red RiverWe

must be able to cover this area promptly in response to need and weather, and to exploit the product quickly. We need

atellite capability

example,ites have now been identified in NVN but we tentatively estimate that onlyozen can be equipped.

We should like to be aoie to cover tne entire area with one reconnaissance system in as few missions as possible, without reference to defended areas or national borders. It may be necessary to repeat this coverage as often as the weather will allow. OXCART based at Kadena can meet all these requirements in The relevant area of NVN ican be covered by two or three OXCART

lissions in good weather, and provide one foot resolution of all the important targets to one national processing center.

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nowwvwr, ii mis reliance is to continue for someis important to have the highest resolutionthat the lines of projection can be laidpoints rather than smudged circles. We havesome labor to examine the specific improvementanalysis and their projections by going fromresolution levels

IWe have the option of achieving this very uxnu iBsoiuiion coverage over our target of greatest uncertainty now at no additional cost. Furthermore, periodic very high resolution photography

targets can be exploited to enhance the value of satellite photography with lower resolution and probably reduce the number of OXCART flights which must actually be made.

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