America’s intelligence community, worried that the Soviet Union was planning a surprise nuclear attack on the United States, requested high-altitude spy flights to monitor Moscow’s development of missiles, according to newly declassified historic documents, says a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
“If the Soviets are further advanced in the development of the long-range missile than is indicated by present estimates, the system, if effectively developed and applied, may well bring to light intelligence already available within the community, the significance of which has not yet been apparent,” stated a document from just before launch of Sputnik.
It was a request to the Guided Missile Intelligence Committee for a comprehensive research program that could combine the talents of those with “scientific, economic, geographic, military, and strategic knowledge.”
The request came as then-CIA chief Allen Dulles was asking for better spy programs to uncover the Soviets’ actions.
“The members of the Doolittle Committee in their report, expressed their belief that every known technique should be used and new ones developed to increase our intelligence by high altitude photographic reconnaissance and other means, and that no price would be too high to pay for the knowledge to be derived therefrom,” his memorandum explained.
“An existing Air Force aircraft type (the Canberra) is considered capable of modification to give it a ceiling of around 65,000 feet. At such an altitude now, the expectation that it would be detected is very low indeed, and the possibility that it would be intercepted and shot down is practically nil,” he said.
“As a follow-on to the Canberra, we would simultaneously proceed with the procurement of specially designed reconnaissance aircraft with more advanced performance characteristics, that would take it to around 70,000 feet.”
The concerns developed just prior to the Oct. 4, 1957, launch by the Soviets of the Sputnik-1 earth satellite into space, a move that “stunned the American public and press, but not the U.S. policy and intelligence communities,” according to a statement from the CIA.
“The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported the advancements that led to this landmark launch to President Eisenhower, providing him with the strategic advantage to guide the U.S. response,” the agency said. “On the 60th anniversary of Sputnik’s first launch, the CIA released a collection of previously classified documents on the Sputnik program. The collection includes CIA’s intelligence and analysis of Sputniks-1, -2, and -3 and the Soviet ballistic missile program from 1955 to the early 1960s.”
CIA chief Mike Pompeo summarized the collection of newly released documents at the National Security Conference this week at George Washington University.