flyf15
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Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 5:28 am

So, everyone knows that the US conducted spyplane flights over Russian territory during the cold war, most famously with U-2s and SR-71s. I don't know much about this topic, so pardon my ignorance, but did Russia ever conduct similar flights over the US?

And if so, what aircraft were used? Anything on a large scale like the US flights, or just a few random flights where they got lucky?

And if not, any idea why not? Were they not capable of developing aircraft that could fly through the airspace with immunity?
 
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ptrjong
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:06 am

Nothing on any scale.
The Russians didn't have the aircraft for it, but then they didn't even try to build them.

The reason for this is simply that the need wasn't there, because of the openness of Western society. Not many things you can actually photograph from a plane were really secret in the West. Also, spies, once in, could travel around freely.

In the USSR, citizens could not even get a map of their home town, and in 1945, the Americans had very little in the way of maps, hence the big US effort.

Under General LeMay, the constant overflights were also pure intimidation. LeMay made a point of using bomber-type aircraft for it - he despised the U-2.

The Russians didn't complain much as that would show weakness, but in fact, they were always much annoyed and worried about it - it fueled the Cold War.

Read a British book, Spy Flights Of the Cold War by Paul Lashmar, if you're interested. It's fascinating.

Peter
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
 
JakeOrion
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 7:46 am

From what I also heard is most flights were outside of Soviet airspace, but because the U-2 and SR-71 flew so darn high the could see the entire continent.

Of course, there were those flights that penetrated Soviet airspace, but most of those remain classified to this day (only lord knows why.)  Confused

Also, the Soviet Union focused on spy satellites.
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lehpron
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:49 am

Quoting JakeOrion (Reply 2):
but because the U-2 and SR-71 flew so darn high the could see the entire continent.

Pardon my semantic involvment here, but at 15 miles up, considering the average radius of the Earth is 3956 miles, the farthest you could see (assuming line-of-sight) was just under 350 miles, 700 all around.

To see the entire continent of what was USSR, which was over 7,000 miles, you'd have to be orbit at least 2300 miles up -- hence the investment in spy satellites.
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
 
474218
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:55 am

The SR-71 was never usd for overflights of the Soviat Union.
 
bushpilot
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:10 am

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 1):
In the USSR, citizens could not even get a map of their home town, and in 1945, the Americans had very little in the way of maps, hence the big US effort.

I have heard since then that towards the end of the coldwar it was the US govmt who possessed the most accurate road maps of the Soviet Union. Anyone else heard of this?
 
aeroweanie
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:28 am

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 1):
The Russians didn't have the aircraft for it, but then they didn't even try to build them.

Actually, they did. The first generation high altitude strategic reconnaissance aircraft was the Yak-25RV Mandrake:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Peter de Jong



The second generation high altitude reconnaissance strategic aircraft were the Myasischev M-17 Mystic-A and Myasischev M-55 Mystic-B:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Christian Waser



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Fyodor Borisov



Beriev was also assigned to copy the U-2, based upon the wreckage of Power's U-2. This aircraft, the S-13, never flew.

The MiG-25R surely counts as a high speed strategic reconnaissance aircraft:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Christian Hauser



They Soviets even tried to build a SR-71 like aircraft, the Tsybin Strategic-Reconnaissance Aircraft/NM-1 (RSR). A subscale technology demonstrator flew in 1959-1960.
http://airbase.ru/sb/russia/tsybin/rs/r/img/rsr_3.jpg
 
flyf15
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:37 am

Quoting AeroWeanie (Reply 7):

Very interesting! Were any of these used to overfly US territory?
 
L-188
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:56 pm

Quoting 474218 (Reply 4):
The SR-71 was never usd for overflights of the Soviat Union.

They might not have offically said they did, but I am willing to put money down that they did, and haven't told anybody yet.
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aeroweanie
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:12 pm

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 8):
Very interesting! Were any of these used to overfly US territory?

There was a report of a Tu-95 getting close to Langley AFB in 1980, but otherwise, there is nothing that I know of. For more info, see: http://home.sprynet.com/~anneled/ColdWar.html
 
broke
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:50 pm

I had friends who were stationed on the radar site at Cape Lisbourne Alaska. They told me that they were regularly overflown, usually by Tu-16 Badgers. When they would launch an intercept from Elemendorf AFB at Anchorage, the aircraft would turn back out over the Bering Strait into international waters.
This was in the early 1960's and the unit at Elemedorf was equipped with F-102A's.
 
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N328KF
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:46 pm

Quoting Broke (Reply 10):
I had friends who were stationed on the radar site at Cape Lisbourne Alaska. They told me that they were regularly overflown, usually by Tu-16 Badgers. When they would launch an intercept from Elemendorf AFB at Anchorage, the aircraft would turn back out over the Bering Strait into international waters.

Too bad we never got to the point of having the F-22 operational during the Cold War. It'd be amusing to see the Soviets try that and then be lit up without their knowledge.
When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' -Theodore Roosevelt
 
broke
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 2:48 am

Actually N328KF something like that did happen. In the early 1960's, 4 F-106A's went to Elemendorf AFB for cold weather testing. These aircraft were equipped with both VHF and UHF radios and with drop tanks.
Well, one of the Tu-16's came across the Bering Strait and the F-106A's were launched using civilian VHF frequencies and call signs. They climbed out in a cruise mode and went north.
They caught the Tu-16 while it was still in US airspace. Overflights stopped for a very long time while the Soviets tried to figure exactly what happened.
 
bushpilot
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:58 am

Quoting N328KF (Reply 11):
Too bad we never got to the point of having the F-22 operational during the Cold War. It'd be amusing to see the Soviets try that and then be lit up without their knowledge.

Id rather have not seen that, especially being an Alaskan and living quite close to cape lisbourne. If there would have been a purposeful shootdown of either a russian or american bomber flying in international airspace would have led to events none of us want to imagine.
 
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ptrjong
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:24 am

Quoting AeroWeanie (Reply 6):
Actually, they did.

AeroWeanie, you're right of course. These aircraft never came close to US airspace, but they were there.

An interesting footnote is that the M-17 was originally designed not as a spyplane, but to shoot down US spy balloons at very high altitude.
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
 
MDorBust
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 9:51 am

Quoting AeroWeanie (Reply 6):
The second generation high altitude reconnaissance strategic aircraft were the Myasischev M-17 Mystic-A and Myasischev M-55 Mystic-B:

Is it just me... or does the M-55 look like it has an elongated SU-25 fuselage and engine section?
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RC135U
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:56 am

Quoting Bushpilot (Reply 13):
If there would have been a purposeful shootdown of either a russian or american bomber flying in international airspace would have led to events none of us want to imagine.

Check out Aeroweenie's link in post 9 above. You'll see that over the years the Western powers paid a pretty high price in lost aircraft over international airspace (not to mention the crews who usually didn't return).

For further information and lots of links check out http://www.silent-warriors.com/
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:26 pm

The USSR also over flew Shymia AB, in TU-16s, within 4 hours of the RC-135 Rivet Ball crash in 1969, to take pictures of the wreck.
 
pacificjourney
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:24 pm

Sure they did !

And they still do, refueling at the UN... it's common knowledge.
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RC135U
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:44 pm

Quoting Pacificjourney (Reply 18):
Sure they did !

And they still do, refueling at the UN... it's common knowledge

Uh...KC135TopBoom is right about the Soviets flying by Shemya after the crash landing of the Cobra Ball on 13 Jan 1969. Minor detail - it was six hours not four hours later that the Badgers showed up. This link describes it a bit better from someone who was there at the time: http://www.6srw.com While the site is very descriptive of RC-135 recon ops, page eight relates to the crash landing and the subsequent overflight of a couple of Badgers.
 
RC135U
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sun Feb 26, 2006 6:01 am

Just a correction that it was indeed RIVET Ball that crash landed on Shemya, as KC135TopBoom stated. COBRA Ball is a later project. My bad...  Smile
 
JAXFLL
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:36 am

Quoting Pacificjourney (Reply 18):
Sure they did !

And they still do, refueling at the UN... it's common knowledge.

Isn't there an agreement between the US and Russia that both can overfly the other country's territory on short notice for surveillance reasons?
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:43 am

The funny thing about the Rivet Ball and Cobra Ball airplanes is that both carried the USAF MDS of RC-135S. This is very unusual because about the only thing the two airplanes had in common was they were built from the C-135 airplane. The Rivet Ball RC-135S started out in life as a KC-135A and had J-57 turbo-jet "steam-jet" engines (water injection). After the airplane crashed, some of the cameras were transferred to the new airplane. But, that was about it, as the Cobra Ball RC-135S (which started out in life as a C-135B, then became a WC-135B, equipped with TF-33 turbo-fan engines) had the "squerral cheeks", no bubble on top for an observer, and new, updated, recording and monitoring equipment.

BTW, the Cobra Ball also crashed on Shemya, but that was around 1976, or so. A new Cobra Ball RC-135S was built
 
Slcpilot
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:35 am

I guess this is an OK subject for this site and forum.


How about the "wandering" Aeroflot flights out of the US? While I know very little, it seems I've read at times they'd fly the route of their choosing on the way out. What did they overfly and did we know what they were gathering? Elint? Photos? Other?

SLCPilot
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usnseallt82
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:59 am

Quoting Flyf15 (Thread starter):
Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Why would they? They just bypassed that step and went straight to putting missiles in Cuba. They didn't have the money for the expensive flights and had no real airbase to begin them from, that wasn't already on our watch-list. So, why waste the time when you can just cut to the chase and arm Castro?

Unfortunately, this was really their line of thinking.
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RayChuang
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Thu Mar 02, 2006 1:03 pm

If I remember correctly, the Yak-25RV Mandrake was primarily used for flights flying just inside the Russian side of the Iron Curtain to look into West Germany from an angle. It was also used to fly along the border with China, too. However, the plane was not that successful due to the reliability of the engines at high altitude and also the fact the plane had dangerous handling characteristics at high altitude, too.

The Myasischev planes--benefiting from way more modern technology and jet engines--were far more successful, though the breakup of the Soviet Union prevented large-scale production and deployment of the plane.

The Soviet plane that did do some border overflights into West Germany was the modified MiG-25R, which could fly at over 60,000 feet at Mach 2.5 and had a short-term dash speed around Mach 3.0. However, the MiG-25R wasn't that successful in the Middle East, where a number of them were shot down by Israeli F-15's equipped with AIM-7 missiles.
 
bennett123
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Thu Mar 02, 2006 6:33 pm

USNseallt82

My recollection is that when the missiles were pulled from Cuba, that US Jupiter IRBM were pulled from Turkey. However, I am not clear how long they had bee there.

RayChuang

I did not know about the handling problems with the Mandrake. I understand that at altitude the Stall and Max speeds for the U2 are about 10 Kn apart.
Also landing must be fun with those massive wings.
 
RichardPrice
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:12 pm

Quoting Usnseallt82 (Reply 24):
Why would they? They just bypassed that step and went straight to putting missiles in Cuba. They didn't have the money for the expensive flights and had no real airbase to begin them from, that wasn't already on our watch-list. So, why waste the time when you can just cut to the chase and arm Castro?

Unfortunately, this was really their line of thinking.

Can you blame them, the US already had similiar range missiles in Turkey, so why not do the same thing?

The USSR didnt always do things to be the nasty nasty evil empire that must be stopped, a lot of its actions were done to counter perceived US threats, and it can be argued that the USSR kept the US in line as much as the US kept the USSR in line.

One thing that amuses me is the public outcry that occured in the US after Gary Powers was shot down. I mean, the cheek of it, the USSR having the gall to shoot down an invading aircraft! How bad of them!
 
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N328KF
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:38 pm

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 27):
One thing that amuses me is the public outcry that occured in the US after Gary Powers was shot down. I mean, the cheek of it, the USSR having the gall to shoot down an invading aircraft! How bad of them!

I think it was more like surprise that we managed to let one of our guys get shot down. Nevermind that there were shootdowns before...just that this was with a somewhat secret recon aircraft.
When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' -Theodore Roosevelt
 
GDB
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:31 am

RayChaung, are you sure that Mig-25R's were shotdown by the F-4/AIM-7?
Because I remember hearing that in about 1971, Mig-25R's made Iranian overflights, (presumably against US facilities there, such as listening posts), which the F-4D/E equipped IIAF could not intercept.
Hence becoming a customer for the F-14.

Israel too had a similar experience around the same time, with I think Soviet crewed examples overflying the then Israeli held Sinai.
Hence Israel getting F-15s, as they would have done anyway, but very quickly, including refurbished test airframes, with an IOC not long after USAF F-15A's.

However, Mig-25's were shotdown in the Iran-Iraq war, but these were not at the types ultimate ceiling and speed.
 
aeroweanie
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:22 am

Israel tried to shoot down the MiG-25Rs, operating out of Egypt, with the F-4/AIM-7 in the 1970s, but failed. The successful Israeli MiG-25 shootdowns were in the early 1980s, using the F-15/AIM-7. For more info, see:
http://home.sprynet.com/~anneled/IAFclaims.html

The actual kills were:
Date Pilot Aircraft Kill Country
13-Feb-81 Benyamin Zinker F-15A MiG-25 Syria
29-Jul-81 Sha'ul Simon F-15A MiG-25 Syria
31-Aug-82 Sha'ul Simon F-15C MiG-25 Syria Shared with AAA
 
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ptrjong
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:57 am

Quoting Usnseallt82 (Reply 24):
Quoting Flyf15 (Thread starter):
Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Why would they? They just bypassed that step and went straight to putting missiles in Cuba.

Why  confused  would the basing of tactical nukes in Cuba make the gaining of intelligence redundant? To the contrary - these things would need targets.

Quoting Usnseallt82 (Reply 24):
arm Castro

And of course the nukes remained firmly under Soviet control.
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
 
usnseallt82
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Mar 03, 2006 9:50 am

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 27):
Can you blame them, the US already had similiar range missiles in Turkey, so why not do the same thing?

Outdated Jupiter missiles. Not necessarily the same threat.

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 31):
Why would the basing of tactical nukes in Cuba make the gaining of intelligence redundant? To the contrary - these things would need targets.

You would think so. But why would it matter with nuclear missiles? They weren't trying to be precise here. Why mess with risky intelligence flights when you can just covertly put your nukes 90 miles of the coast of Florida?

Unfortunately, they got caught red-handed.

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 31):
And of course the nukes remained firmly under Soviet control.

Uh, yeah.........keep thinking that. With Castro masturbating on the trigger, I'm sure he had NO influence whatsoever.
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ptrjong
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Mar 03, 2006 11:43 am

Before anyone corrects me, the missiles deployed to Cuba were not exactly tactical.

No, you don't need spy flights to nuke the enemy capital. Nor did the Americans, so I really don't see your point at all.

I'm trying to retrace your reasoning and it seems to be that because of Cuba's proximity to the USA, the USSR had a kind of first strike capability, meaning Soviet leaders did not have to worry about anything, because being the evil empire they were absolutely certain that they were always going to be the ones that were going to start the war. Well, that's really too simplistic.

Quoting Usnseallt82 (Reply 32):
With Castro masturbating on the trigger


It's said Castro launched a SAM, but he certainly didn't have his finger on the nuclear launch button. Likewise US nukes here in Holland are guarded by US troops.
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
 
usnseallt82
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Mar 03, 2006 12:09 pm

Quoting Ptrjong (Reply 33):
It's said Castro launched a SAM, but he certainly didn't have his finger on the nuclear launch button.

Apparently my comment went over your head, so I'll try to explain.

I am well aware that Castro never had his finger on the triggers, but he was so slap-happy about getting these missiles that I'm sure he got a hard-on just thinking about it at night. If he wanted to, he would have pretty good influence on Moscow to start something. Therefore, he was itching over the triggers, not actually touching them.

Get it?
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RC135U
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Fri Mar 03, 2006 12:36 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 22):

BTW, the Cobra Ball also crashed on Shemya, but that was around 1976, or so. A new Cobra Ball RC-135S was built

Yeah, the Rock (Shemya) has been a bad place for RCs. The Ball crash that you're thinking of happened in 1981 with the loss of six crew. The Rock is a tough place to operate out of, and the RC-135T trainer was also lost near Valdez in 1985.

The RC-135S is the only model of the RC fleet I was never assigned to.
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:11 pm

Quoting RC135U (Reply 35):
The Rock is a tough place to operate out of, and the RC-135T trainer was also lost near Valdez in 1985.

Yeah, IIRC that was the one practicing MLS approaches into Valdez (at the time one of only two MLS systems in the US). It was some 6-8 months before the wreckage was found, by some hunters, IIRC.

Quoting RC135U (Reply 35):
The RC-135S is the only model of the RC fleet I was never assigned to.

I have refueled just about every RC model and tail number that SAC had, up until I retired. I believe that a few have now been converted to a "new" model, the RC-135X?
 
RC135U
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:00 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 36):
Yeah, IIRC that was the one practicing MLS approaches into Valdez (at the time one of only two MLS systems in the US). It was some 6-8 months before the wreckage was found, by some hunters, IIRC.

I think someone from the 24th SRS at Eielson was determined to locate the crew remains and was part of the team that found the wreck about six months later. Turned out the MLS at Valdez was only certified for STOL aircraft and required a glide slope and missed approach steeper that what an old Hog Nose could cope with.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 36):
I have refueled just about every RC model and tail number that SAC had, up until I retired. I believe that a few have now been converted to a "new" model, the RC-135X?

The X project didn't pan out, I think it ended up converted to a replacement S model. BTW, I (thankfully) never did fly on the one-off E model which disappeared out over the Bering Sea. Do remember being refueled one night off the East Coast while deploying to Mildenhall, and after finishing up hearing the boomer asking the AC our aircraft model. AC had to repeat "RC-135U" a couple of times...don't think that Pease guy had ever heard of such a 135 model.
 
fumanchewd
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:20 am

Quoting RC135U (Reply 19):
http://www.6srw.com

Great link! Thanks!
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
L-188
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Mon Mar 20, 2006 4:31 pm

Quoting RC135U (Reply 37):
Turned out the MLS at Valdez was only certified for STOL aircraft and required a glide slope and missed approach steeper that what an old Hog Nose could cope with.

Hell that airport still has a daylight only approach with at 4500 food decision height. That KC had no buisness going in there on a clear day.

For those who don't believe me, here are a couple of Valdez airport photos. I didn't want to clog up the website with photos so I left links.

http://www.alaska.faa.gov/fai/images/CTRLGLF/VDZ-c.jpg

http://www.alaska.faa.gov/fai/images/CTRLGLF/VDZ-f.jpg

http://www.alaska.faa.gov/fai/images/CTRLGLF/VDZ-g.jpg

http://www.alaska.faa.gov/fai/images/CTRLGLF/VDZ-e.jpg
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RC135U
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RE: Russian Spyplane Flights Over US

Mon Mar 20, 2006 10:43 pm

Quoting L-188 (Reply 40):
Hell that airport still has a daylight only approach with at 4500 food decision height. That KC had no buisness going in there on a clear day.

I'm sure you know the area pretty well. On the day the RC was lost they had flown two practice approaches to Valdez, but they started their third approach some four miles north of the prescribed MLS inbound course. They descended along this parallel course until passing below radar coverage at 7100ft MSL, thereafter striking a mountain top. Weather at the time was bad and the airport itself was closed, which may have contributed to crew disorientation.

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