SUBJECT: verflights of Cuba, ugust through2
much of it. The photography revealed that eight SAM sites
were under construction in the western half of the island. The flight
also discovered an installation at Banes in the eastern end of the
island that was not familiar to the photo interpreters.
finding of SA-2's in Cuba on theh flight presented
there is general acceptance of the fact that we are
carrying out overhead reconnaissance of Cuba and that we will continue to do so as long as our national security requires it. This almost universal approvallights over Cuba is an attitude that has existed only since the middle of last October. Prior to the finding of offensive ballistic missiles in Cuba,ifferent public attitude existed.
In planning forperations over well-defended, denied territory we were always aware of criticism that attended
over the USSR in May
Within the intelligence community there was always at the backs of our minds the knowledge that in the eventiihap we would have to be able to explain, convincingly and in detail, then terms of the highest priority intelligence needs--for having undertaken the mission.
Elsewhere in Government and among persons whose stated vicwe strongly influence public opinion there were serious reservations regarding the use of, There were expressions of extreme concern from some public leaders over the increase in tension that might result from overflights, and others voiced the opinion that such flights were illegal or immoral. Although many public figures conceded the necessity of the United States securing intelligence by whatever means required, they were quick to caution that the use ofasifferent matter from the classical use of spies and agents.
The vulnerability ofo Sovietystems and the discovery of those systems in Cuba contributed further complicating factors in weighing risks against the need for hard intelligence.
The situation as of2 must be viewed against this background of universal repugnance, or, at the very least, extreme uneasiness regarding overflights.
Because of the widespread apprehension over use of, we took particular care to ensure that each flight produced the maximum of information of value to the entire intelligence community. Each track was drawn to cover high priority targets agreed upon by an inter-agency group known as the Committee on Overheada committee of the United States Intelligence Board.
We were also concerned with the conservation of the asset.sturdily-built aircraft. It is designed for oneong flights at very high altitudes and at relatively low speeds. We had very few of these planes. Therefore, before we committed oneission we wanted to be absolutely certain that the intelligence need was great enough to justify the risk of loss of the pilot and aircraft. The Committee on Overhead Reconnaissance was the intelligence community's vehicle for making the target studies-All CIA overflights were programmed through the medium of the CIA Monthly Forecast. At the time the Soviet arms build-up
began in Cuba, flights over Cuba were being forecast and flown at the rate of two per month.
Because of the need to husband our resources and to ensure that highest quality photography was obtained fromlight, it was the practice not toission unless weather over most of the critical targets was predicted to be less thaner cent overcast.
After reviewing the result of theh mission, the Committee on Overhead Reconnaissance, in undeniably good judgment, recommended that the next mission should cover those areas of the island which were not photographed on theh flight and that particular attention should be paid to the then unidentified site at Banes. It was important to learn whether the Soviets hadimitedof SA-2's to Cuba or whether an island-wide defense was being built.
The next mission was successfully flown on schedule on September 5th over the eastern and central portions of the island. Three additional SAM sites were detected in the central portion of tbe island. Unfortunately, the flight encountered heavy cloud cover over oastern Cuba.
Late in August, Mr. McCone suggested to General Carter, who was acting as DCI during Mr. McCone's absence, that low-level
s ex: ret
reconnaissance of Cuba be proposed. General Carter requested the Committee on Overhead Reconnaissance to consider the kind of information that could be obtained thus. The Committee met on September first and third and reported Its views on what might be accomplished through low-level flights.
esult of the Committee's deliberations and because of the heavy cloud cover encountered over eastern Cuba on the September 5th mission. General Carter, onemorandum to the Secretary of Defense recommending that the Secretary initiate the necessary action to provide forof tactical-type reconnaissance against Banes, which was still unidentified, or other targets identified by the Committee on Overhead Reconnaissance as being suitable for low-level reconnaissance* The Secretary of Defense felt it preferable not toow-level reconnaissance of Banes until the results of CIA high-level reconnaissance became available, J
Now, let us return to the matter of thelights.
One mission had already been flown on September 5th. One flight
remained yet to be flown in September. pecial meeting was held
onh to consider the specific track for that second flight.
General CarterIA proposalingle high-level flight designed specifically to photograph the Banes area, where earlier photography had not been conclusive, and generally to search for SAM sites in those areas of central and eastern Cuba that had not been covered since the September 5th flight.
The Secretary of State expressed concern at CIA's planned coverage of Cuba, involving extensive peripheral coverage as well as two legs directly over Cuban air space, all in one flight. He said that he had no objection to the peripheral parts and, in fact,
thought it useful to continue to establish our right to fly over international waters. On the other hand, he recognized theof obtaining vertical coverage of the Isle of Pines and the eastern portion of Cuba. He felt, however, that it was unwise to combine extensive overflying of international waters with actual overflights. He pointed out that tho long peripheral flight would draw undue attention to the mission and further that should the aircraft fall into enemy hands after an overflight had occurred, this would put the United Statesery poor position for standing on its rights to overfly international waters.
Taking these views into account the plan was changed and four flights were substituted for the one. Two flights were to be wholly peripheral, involving no land overflight. One was to cover the Isle of Pines, and the other was to overfly the eastern end of the island targeted against Banes and Guantanamo.
Therehree-week period from the 5th toh of September during which only one flight was flown (onnd it yielded no useable photography. We finally acquired acomplete mosaic of theefense of Cuba by piece-meal photography search carried out in late September and early October. The delay in completing the photographic coverage was due solely to the unfavorable weather predicted during this period.
September, and the cloud patterns were rapidly and continually changing. The few periods of acceptable weather were so fleeting that they had passed before flights could be mounted.
The weather was checkedossible mission every day beginning on September 6th. Therene- or two- day period around the middle of the month when the forecasts were moderately favorable. light to the northeast was scheduled forh. It went to the final briefing onh, but was delayed forours because of weather and was cancelled when the weather continued unfavorable. Planninglight over the Isle of Pines was under way onh. At the final briefing onh, the forecast remained favorable. The mission was flown onh, but by then the weather had turned sour and no useable photography was acquired.
Another mission was under consideration betweenht, but the weather was bad and the mission was cancelled.
The mission to cover the Guantanamo and Banes areas was under consideration beginningeptember. It went to alert daily, but weather was not acceptable untilh. On that date the mission was successfully flown and three SAM sites were discovered. This was the first of the four flights agreed upon onh, and
it was the first day on which weatheruccessful flight.
One of the four tracks was originally approved to cover only the Isle of Pines. Mr. McCone called Mr. U. Alexis Johnson onh and got approval to include coverage of the Bay of Pigs area. The flight was successfully flown onh.
Two of the three remaining missions for September were considered during the periodh through October 2nd. Both were cancelled because of bad weather.
The next flight under consideration was that along the periphery of the southeastern coast. It was delayed because of weather on October 3rd. It was briefed on October 4th and successfully flew the mission on the 5th. One additional SAM site was discovered.
There was good weather along the northeastern coast on October 6th.light was launched but it aborted because of aircraft fuel problems.
The flight along the northeastern coast was successfully flown the next day, October 7th. Four more SAM sites were discovered.
The mission of October 7th completed the September flight program.
As the September overflight program progressed, identifying additional SAM sites, it became apparent that an island-wideefense was being constructed. The next step was to discover how far advanced the earlier SAM sites were. This information could be obtained only by taking the risk of overflying anite that might be operational.
trong representation for extensive overflights of Cuba. The group requested NRO, JCS, and CIA to examine all alternative means of conducting aerial reconnaissance and to report back as soon as possible. eeting was called on October 9th to hear this report, and at this meeting the flight was planned which was actually flown onh of October.
Additionally, fromh through October 2nd,
oports dovetailed sufficiently touspicion
that there was something of unusual importance going onefinite area west of Havana and that this unusual activity might be concerned with MRBM's. These reports, however, were not of sufficient credibility to warrant their being used in intelligence publications. Accordingly, the track of the flight planned at the October 9th meeting to test the operational readiness of the known SAM sites was drawn to cover the area in which MRBM's were suspected.
The weather was checked daily onhh. but the forecasts were unfavorable. Onh. operational controlverflights of Cuba was transferred to the Strategic Air Command of. Air Force. The weather forecast continued unfavorable onh. The mission wasGown by SAC onh over the suspect area west of Havana and near the SAM site thought most likely to be The flight was the first to discover the presence of MRBM's.
As ofh, blanket authority was given for unrestricted overflights of Cuba.
Attached atummary of weather forecasts and the status ofeptember throughOriginal document.