Author Topic: 12 million CIA records are now online  (Read 3310 times)

Offline gosnold

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12 million CIA records are now online
« on: 01/18/2017 07:19 PM »
The CIA recently put online 12 million of its records:
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/collection/crest-25-year-program-archive
It includes NIMA/NGA records:
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/collection/nga-records-formerly-nima

They were previously available to the public, but only on premises, so they might contain previously unknown information regarding the spy satellite programs.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #1 on: 01/18/2017 07:42 PM »
They were previously available to the public, but only on premises, so they might contain previously unknown information regarding the spy satellite programs.

Well, they might, but I've been going out there for 15 years and plowing through the stuff. I doubt that there's much that is unknown to me...

On a more serious note: the CIA has updated that collection about once every 18 months or so. Initially they did it every year, but they slowed down. There's a lot of great stuff in there, so plow through it and look. But simply using search terms is going to give you headaches. You have to figure out how to use the system and figure out the tricks. One trick is that if you find a good document, you need to search in the electronic folder that was filed in for similar stuff.

The NPIC collection is great. Lots of spy satellite reports on things like Tyuratam (Baikonur) and ICBM sites and the like. I've written a bunch of articles on the N-1 launch facility based upon those reports.

There is almost no HEXAGON or GAMBIT stuff in there. Not internal memos, not the imagery interpretation reports. The collection starts to get thin in the 1970s and then gets very thin into the 1980s.

There are some unexpected holes. For instance, in the early 1970s there was a big dispute between the CIA and USAF over the range and purpose of the Backfire bomber. That was important for arms control negotiations. Surprisingly, I found very little on the Backfire. I expected to find some detailed assessments by the CIA, NPIC, etc. But I got almost nothing. That was really disappointing.

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #2 on: 01/20/2017 09:00 PM »
The Backfire (Tu-22M) controversy was typical of many cases where the USAF intelligence branch over-estimated the range of Soviet aircraft. They assumed that Soviet airframes and engines were similar to contemporary Western ones. Actually, the airframes were heavier because of higher load safety margins, and the engines were gas-guzzlers due to inferior metallurgy in the turbine blades. Neither of these issues could be addressed by overhead imagery, so it is not surprising that there is little about Backfire in PHOTINT documents.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #3 on: 01/21/2017 12:06 AM »
The Backfire (Tu-22M) controversy was typical of many cases where the USAF intelligence branch over-estimated the range of Soviet aircraft. They assumed that Soviet airframes and engines were similar to contemporary Western ones. Actually, the airframes were heavier because of higher load safety margins, and the engines were gas-guzzlers due to inferior metallurgy in the turbine blades. Neither of these issues could be addressed by overhead imagery, so it is not surprising that there is little about Backfire in PHOTINT documents.

The collection includes a lot more than reconnaissance assessments. There are individual reports and internal memos. I just expected more materials that referred to the Backfire. There wasn't much of anything at all.

During the Cold War there were a number of internal intelligence community disputes over Soviet weapons. Off the top of my head:

-bomber gap, 1950s
-missile gap, late 1950s/early 1960s
-SS-6 configuration (this was the R-7/Soyuz rocket)
-SS-8 range
-N-1 launch to the Moon, 2-vehicle vs. single-vehicle launch
-Talinn SA-5 missile site
-Backfire range


I'm primarily counting disputes there, where USAF said one thing and CIA said the opposite. The first two, the bomber gap and the missile gap, were legendary. They spilled out into the public, got into the newspapers, and the missile gap even became a major issue during the presidential campaign (JFK said there was a gap, got into office and quickly discovered that there was no gap). CIA was usually much more accurate than USAF on these assessments, which proved that Eisenhower was right when he said that the military could not be trusted to perform intelligence assessments and therefore should not be allowed to control the intelligence collection systems (like reconsats) either. I think that eventually by the 1970s and into the 1980s the military intelligence services had become much more professionalized and less likely to produce the results that the generals wanted them to produce.



Online kevin-rf

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #4 on: 01/21/2017 04:50 PM »
Off topic, what was the R-7 configuration controversy? Just a little curious.
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Offline brickmack

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #5 on: 01/21/2017 05:26 PM »
Off topic, what was the R-7 configuration controversy? Just a little curious.

The CIA knew basically nothing about R-7 until very late into the program, not even what it looked like or how many stages it had (their first look at it was the Sputnik launch, when they tracked the center core on radar in orbit and came to the conclusion that it was probably a stage and a half design like Atlas). Its design, capabilities, launch sites, numbers fielded, and future development plans were all totally unknown, and various groups within the US intelligence community were all pushing their own ideas of what it was (most of which were pretty crazy)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #6 on: 01/21/2017 07:38 PM »
I think that one of the things that threw them off was the conical tank configuration. I am not sure, but it may not have been until they sent one to the Paris Air Show in 1967 that the CIA got a good idea of its overall configuration. I'm guessing that they got satellite photos of it sometime before then, but they might not have been conclusive.

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #7 on: 01/22/2017 03:38 AM »
You forgot:

The nuclear-powered airplane gap
The Leningrad ABM System (actually bases for the cancelled Dal' SAM)
The Window of Minuteman Vulnerability
The Beam Weapons Gap

These last two were USAF fantasies of the 1980s. At the time, I didn't notice any signs that USAF Intelligence had gotten any more professional.

The "Tallinn Line ABM System" was an example of not understanding the politics of weapons acquisition in the USSR. It was the S-200 Angara SAM system, designed to stop B-70 bombers and Navajo cruise missiles. We didn't even consider that the Sovs were building a defense system against projects we had cancelled as obsolete and assumed it must be an anti-missile system. We had this view of the USSR as a rational state and didn't understand that political pork played an even more important role there than in the US. Whole company towns were devoted to building particular systems which made them impossible to cancel in a system where there was no unemployment allowed.


Offline Michel Van

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #8 on: 01/24/2017 08:50 AM »
at Secret Project Forum
they already start to dig true the Data

Some of there findings is Project HAZEL, a boost-glide or ramjet powered manned reconnaissance aircraft.
General Dynamics (Convair) made study for it also rocket power aircraft launch from b-52 or rocket launch from submarine.

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP89B00709R000400800005-2.pdf
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP89B00709R000400820001-4.pdf
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP89B00709R000400830001-3.pdf

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #9 on: 01/26/2017 12:24 AM »
These Project Hazel studies are characteristic of most Convair projects from this era: optimistic to the point of absurdity. Just compare them with real Mach 3.0 aircraft like X-7, BOMARC, Navaho, B-70, and A-11/SR-71. The long ranges are grossly inconsistent with the small fuel volumes.

I especially like the inflated fiberglass wings for stealth!

Offline Danderman

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #10 on: 01/26/2017 01:35 AM »
It's interesting to see how much they knew about Soviet rockets in the 1960s, and how much of that knowledge came from satellite reconnaissance, compared with use of human resources. The reports generally are clear when information comes from analysis of imagery, and not clear when information is presented unsourced, as in "we think that the booster that uses Pad 12 is the same as the booster that we know uses Pad 36 because the supporting buildings are similar in appearance" as opposed to "the booster at Pad 12 has a thrust of 134,000 lbs".


Offline Blackstar

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #11 on: 01/26/2017 03:29 AM »
It's interesting to see how much they knew about Soviet rockets in the 1960s, and how much of that knowledge came from satellite reconnaissance, compared with use of human resources. The reports generally are clear when information comes from analysis of imagery, and not clear when information is presented unsourced, as in "we think that the booster that uses Pad 12 is the same as the booster that we know uses Pad 36 because the supporting buildings are similar in appearance" as opposed to "the booster at Pad 12 has a thrust of 134,000 lbs".



It was both a learning process and an iterative process. By that I mean that they gained more data over time and got better, but they also got new sources that allowed them to interpret older data. One of the best examples of this was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Prior to the crisis, the intelligence analysts had U-2 photos of Soviet missiles and missile bases (particularly in Eastern Europe). There were a lot of things that they could see in the U-2 photos but could not identify. But during the crisis, the US flew low-altitude reconnaissance flights (RF-8 Crusaders and RF-101 Voodoos) over the missile sites in Cuba. They not only got much better resolution photos, but they got oblique (sideways) views of them as well. So on a U-2 photo they could see the missile launch pad, and then some square things sitting nearby. But in the Crusader and Voodoo photos those dark square things showed up as fuel trailers and generators. So now they could go back to their U-2 photos and label all the stuff that they saw.

Similarly, they would get another source that would allow them to confirm what they were seeing in the photos. Penkovsky gave the CIA a lot of material that helped them figure out Soviet missiles. Later they got missile telemetry and things like that. By the 1970s they were getting really good at getting technical data from their photos, but it was also probably informed by COMINT and TELINT and SIGINT (interceptions).

Of the many chips on my shoulders, one of them is that too much of historical reporting on espionage focuses on the spies, when the spies were actually a relatively small source of intelligence data during the Cold War. Satellite photography was immensely more valuable. No spy could provide the exact numbers and locations of all Soviet ICBM silos, for instance, but satellites could. And you could trust the satellite photos, but you can never completely trust a spy.

Offline Michel Van

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #12 on: 01/26/2017 10:52 AM »
These Project Hazel studies are characteristic of most Convair projects from this era: optimistic to the point of absurdity. Just compare them with real Mach 3.0 aircraft like X-7, BOMARC, Navaho, B-70, and A-11/SR-71. The long ranges are grossly inconsistent with the small fuel volumes.

I especially like the inflated fiberglass wings for stealth!

That fuel Convair wanted to use is Pentaborane (HEF) or Hydrogene
With those fuel it could manage the design range
Despite noxiousness of Pentaborane

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #13 on: 01/30/2017 12:23 AM »
Borane fuels were planned for B-70 and F-108, but it was discovered that the combustion products recombined immediately into complex compounds. These secondary reactions were endothermic, sucking up most of the extra energy generated in combustion. Worse, the new compounds formed solid particles that wore out the turbines and tailpipes of the J93 engines. The hyper-toxicity of boranes was only a secondary reason they were dropped after a vast expenditure. There is an interesting book waiting to be written about the borane fuel project.

Liquid hydrogen turbojets were developed and tested in another CIA spyplane project, SUNTAN. The light weight didn't make up for the extra drag inherent in the high fuel volume. Every other study of H2-fueled airplanes since then has come to the same conclusion.

Offline Hog

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #14 on: 01/30/2017 09:59 PM »
Just imagine what the CIA thought after seeing the pics of the Ecranoplan?

General characteristics
Crew: 15 (6 officers, 9 enlisted)
Capacity: 137t (302,000lb)
Length: 73.8m (242ft2 in)
Wingspan: 44m (144 ft 4 in)
Height: 19.2m (63ft 0 in)
Wing area: 550m2 (5,900sq ft)
Empty weight: 286,000kg (630,522 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 380,000kg (837,757lb)
Powerplant: 8 ×Kuznetsov NK-87 turbofans, 127.4 kN (28,600lbf) thrust each

Performance
Maximum speed: 550 km/h (342 mph; 297 kn)
Cruising speed: 450 km/h (280mph;243 kn) at 2.5 m ( ft)
Range: 2,000 km (1,243mi; 1,080nmi)
Service ceiling: 7,500m (24,606 ft) or 5m (16 ft) in ground effect
Paul

Offline Blackstar

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #15 on: 01/30/2017 10:36 PM »
Just imagine what the CIA thought after seeing the pics of the Ecranoplan?


There was a guy who appeared in some History Channel documentary over a decade ago talking about that. I think his name was Steven Hooker and he was a former CIA analyst. He was the guy who was assigned to analyze the "Caspian Sea Monster" after it was spotted. He had a declassified CORONA photo that I think actually caught the thing in flight or out in the water.

The vehicle showed up in satellite photos and analysts tried to figure out what it was. I remember Dino Brugioni telling me that one time they had brought (I think) Jimmy Doolittle through NPIC and they showed him the photo. Doolittle of course had retired as a Lieutenant General and I believe he had served as an intelligence adviser during the 1950s and 1960s. If I remember correctly, Brugioni told me that they had shown Doolittle the image as one of their "mysteries" and Doolittle took one look at it and said that it was a wing-in-ground effect vehicle. That story may have been apocryphal and the analysts may have already figured that out, but Brugioni claimed the Doolittle solved it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Doolittle

Anyway, back to Hooker: U.S. intelligence satellites got some good photos of the vehicle and so they built a model. Hooker then had it tested in the big water tank at the nautical testing facility near Washington (I'm blanking on the name, but it'll come to me). If I remember correctly, the documentary actually had declassified footage of this model being tested in the water tank. That was probably in the early 1970s.

I tried to track down Hooker but could not find him. I don't know if he ever published an article about intelligence analysis of the Ekranoplan.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #16 on: 01/30/2017 11:50 PM »
Just imagine what the CIA thought after seeing the pics of the Ecranoplan?

There have been various documentaries about this. I always liked it's nickname of the "Caspian Sea Monster."

In some ways the problem is like a ramjet. It needs huge power to get airborne, much larger than to cruise.

Now if you can fix that.....

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Offline Michel Van

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #17 on: 02/13/2017 09:26 AM »
New from CIA they uploading there Photo Archive on Flickr

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciagov/albums

40 photos of 1972 "Underwater Ice Station Zebra" the salvage of Hexagon Spy sat Capsule from ocean floor.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciagov/albums/72157630990648818/with/7748440774/

Offline AlexA

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Re: 12 million CIA records are now online
« Reply #18 on: 03/20/2017 01:15 PM »
Maybe a little "out-there" for NSF...

Apparently the CIA conducted "remote viewing" experiment(s) targeting Mars in 1984:

In the envelope was a 3x5 card with the following information:
The planet Mars.
Time of interest approximately 1 million years ago.


https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00788R001900760001-9.pdf

I wonder who the "parties requesting information" were? NASA?

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