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Cuban missile crisis, 1962, value of photo intelligence,

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        Trapezoid
          
U-2 Missions          
    stage sustainer, and it could sprint to Mach 3 carrying a 280-pound high-explosive warhead with a proximity fuse to a range of 30 miles. Radio guidance from ground-based target acquisition radar fed steering commands to the missile's control fins. We assessed it as reliable and accurate.  
      
From 1956 on, I had participated in the Intelligence Community's tasking of the U-2 by contributing the Army's and DIA's intelligence collection requirements to the flight planners of the operational missions. I had helped analyze the photographic intelligence from the U-2 flights over the Soviet Union from 1956 to 1960.    
       
  The U-2 missions through 5 September revealed a disproportionate buildup of SA-2 launch sites in western Cuba. One school of thought contended that this deployment pattern was not particularly worrisome, given that Havana and the larger part of the Cuban population were in that region. Further, most of the sites were along Cuba's periphery, where one might expect such missiles arrayed in a national airdefense network.  
      
The extraordinary capabilities of the U-2 as an aircraft were complemented by its advanced photographic gear. The U-2 carried the HR-73B camera system, a big, high-technology camera with a 36-inch focal-length lens able to capture considerable detail from altitudes of 14 miles. The camera load was two 6,500-foot rolls of 9 112-inch film. Each mission could produce more than 4,000 frames of film, with vertical, single-frame ground coverage of 5.7 x 5.7 nautical miles.   
      
 Another line of analysis held that the disproportionate concentration of SA-2s in the west meant that the Soviets and the Cubans had important military equipment there requiring greater protection. The photointerpreters pushed on with their analysis, somewhat hampered by a policy-level decision following the 5 October mission to avoid the western sector on future U-2 missions because of administration concerns that an SA-2 might shoot down a U-2, thereby escalating the crisis.
     
Following the flight of 29 August 1962, CIA launched additional U-2 missions on 5, 17, 26, and 29 September and 5 and 7 October. Working through an interagency committee, collection requirements were formulated that would shape the flight profile of each mission. The work of reading the film from each mission took place in NPIC in an atmosphere of intense analytical debate throughout September and early October. These U-2 missions established an excellent baseline for judging the nature and pace of the Soviet military buildup.  
      
 Analysis was not based exclusively on photointerpretation. One of my DIA colleagues, Colonel John Wright, directed the work of a center in DIA that collated intelligence from all sources. The center evaluated the photography together with other sources, including reports from refugees and agents in Cuba. These reports continued to warn of large rockets, possibly missiles, arriving in Cuba and of suspicious military activity in western Cuba.
     
The success of our efforts owed much to the brilliant leadership of Art Lundahl, who was internationally recognized for his contributions to photographic interpretation and photogrammetric engineering. His dedication to improving the nation's reconnaissance capabilities and his professional standards shaped the work of all who were a part of his crisis team.  
      
 Focus on San Cristobal    
          
     Colonel Wright and his staff became increasingly interested in the SA-2 sites near San Cristobal, in the western part of the island. Most important, the U-2 photography indicated that these sites formed the outline of a trapezoid. This suggested that the sites
SA-2 Controversy    
     
One issue for the photo interpreters was the intended role of the Soviet SA-2 GUIDELINE SAM, which had been operational with Soviet air defense forces since the late 1950s. The 30-foot-long SA-2 had a solid-propellant booster and a kerosene-based second  
      
          
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM