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September 6, 2019
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September 12, 2019
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August 16, 1976
PDF icon TACANA TCT REPORT, 4 JUNE[15687577].pdf329.53 KB
Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 SE-efr ORD 1085-76 16 August 1976 MEMORANDUM FOR: SUBJECT: TCT MEMBERS: NIO/SA TACANA TCT Report 4 June 1976 ; TCT Chairman FCT Vice Chairman , TCT 'Secretary 1. The primary purpose of the Avian contract is to train pigeons to carry an approximately thirty-seven � gram camera from a release point (point A) to an offset target point (point B) three miles distant from the release point, obtain pictures of the target at (point B), and return to their home loft� (point C) located approximately fifty miles from point B. In addition, an operational scenario requires that the birds be trans- ported black approximately 3,500 miles to anew homesite, including homing to it from varying distances, and per- forming the A-B-C maneuver against a new target which they have only seen simulated versions of prior to leaving the United States. Progress toward these training goals has led to the modification of the Avian contract work plan in an effort to improve the likelihood of success , for the upcoming operational test and future operational clandestine employment of the Avian System. 2. A schedule of Avian project activities was esta- blished early in the contract to ensure orderly progress toward the goals specified in the preceeding paragraph. The schedule was considered to be tentative because a number of factors, such as, bird training times, fabrication of appropriate simulated targets, logistics of moving the birds to several new homesites, and time periods involved in acclimating the birds to their new homes, might delay the scheduling of the simulated operational test. This has indeed been the case. EC -E2 IMPDET CL BY Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 T ORD 1085-76 � . 3. The first order of business in the schedule was to train the birds to home fifty miles in California,. move them to. a new site in California and perform a com- plete test of the A-B-C scenario. This work appeared to progress in an excellent manner. The contract was initiated on 1 January 1976 and by the fifth week of ct the flock (kit) of birds used in the demonstration (the latter part of 1973)-had been success ully relocated from San e o California (approximately fifteen miles north of They learned,to home from forty-four miles w i e weani thirty-even to forty gram simulated cameras. .These birds were subsequently ;relocated four different times and theyvappeared to. be VLearning to le " At this same time, additional birds 'obtained by Were homing to the farm, with weights, from approximate y three miles. 4. The next step in the schedule called for train- ing the A-B-C maneuver to an A to B distance of two to three miles and a B to C distance of twenty-five miles. Although this work progressed smoothly, it became apparent that the use of an area approximately 20 miles to the north as a training site imposed a number of serious cons rai _s limiting the capability to perform a preliminary test of the operational capability of the Avian System. This topo- graphical configuration resulted in a predominantly north to south orientation in bird flight paths. Second, the birds tended to use the freeways to ease their passage between intermediate mountain ranges and a number of excel- lent birds were lost to the program as they flew low along the freeways and were struck by automobiles. Finally, it was extremely difficult to obtain permission from area Landowners to set-up the inflatable, twenty foot in dia- meter radome at varying locations to train the birds to ,search for the target. � 5. Despite these drawbacks, it was decided to complete the A-B-C scenario training in California on the scheduled date of 3 April 1976, and move the project to Oklahoma and perform the interim test of the Avian Systems in Oklahoma at a farm owned by an acquaintance of The � 13-1-riloits11-�werelof the and A-B-C training was initiated. � The parking lot was used in the early stages as the base for setting up the target. As - 2 - Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 ORD 1085-76 the birds extended their homing range and their learning of the A to B connection was strengthened, the inflatable radome was set-up at a location approximately twenty-seven and one-half miles from the home loft. Once again, the birds learned their tasks extremely well. So well in fact, that project/personnel began to suspect that the birds were using topographical features of the area rather than a true search behavior to find the target. This fact was later verified in Oklahoma. Thus, although it was possible to test the system in California with the distance from A to B at two and three-quarters miles and the distance from B to C at twenty-seven and one-half miles, and with the collection of excellent photography, the birds had actually learned an inappropriate method of finding the target. In effect, this meant that although the project appeared to be three days ahead of schedule, the desired A-B-C behavior had yet to be established in such a way that it could be applied in the operational environment. 6. On the basis of the foregoing knowledge and an evaluation of time remaining on the project, it was obvious that Oklahoma was to become the "real" training site, and that another location would be needed to perform an interim test of the system in order to trouble-shoot the procedures to be utilized in deploying it for the operational test. 7. The birds were transferred to a farm in Oklahoma, and training of the desired search behavio commenced on about I May 1976. It took three weeks for the birds to become accustomed to the Oklahoma homesite and "home" from distances of ten miles. By this time the A to B search behavior was also becoming well established. 8. 'Two factors interfered with rapid progress at the Oklahoma training site. The training crew was due to be on site by 5 April 1976 and did not arrive until 11 April 1976 because was forced to delay his California departure in deierence to a serious illness suffered by his wife. personally lost an addi- tional four days to negotiating the disposition of a number of his other birds; crows, ravens, and eagles with the California Fish and Game Commission, carried on at the Oklahoma training site for Even so, approximately seven and one-half days. were lost to rain, - 3 - Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 ORD 1 0 8 5 7 7 6 high winds and tornadoes. By now it was evident to all concerned that although the work effort appeared to be making satisfactory progress, the project was approxi- mately one month behind the originally scheduled completion date. 9. As a result of the delays incurred �in Oklahoma, some modifications to the program were suggested to the TCT by ORD. These modifications included moving the birds directly from Oklahoma to the Washington, D.C. area, acclimating them and training them to perform the A-B-C maneuver in geographical locations significantly removed from the target. The rationale was that this procedure wouia piobably allow the contractor to complete his program within the existing contractual funding and possibly enable the initiation of an operational exercise prior to October of this year. 10. In order to examine these recommendations with potential users, a TCT meeting was held on 6 May 1976. User representatives included SE/COPS, and personnel from SE, OTS, and ORD. in general, the reaction to th ro osed direct move to the Washint D.C. area from Oklahoma was unfavorable. stated his reserva ions in a formal memorandum on 7 May 1976. The memorandum noted that the required exten- sion of approximately one month to complete the contractual work seemed to eliminate the possibility that an operation could be accomplished in the field this year. Therefore, it was felt that it would be inappropriate to bring the birds to Washington, D.C. until they were ready to perform the operational scenario agreed upon early in the program. In short, SE held the strong opinion that the birds should be held away from the Washington area until they could be trained against the target, moved clandestinely to Was ton, acclimatized covertly, and deployed against th arget with a return to home base. Further, the memoran um indicated that it was important for the TCT to obtain as complete an understanding as possible of the acclimatization process in terms of its impact on covert operations under simulated Moscow conditions. It also indicated a strong interest in determining whether the birds can demonstrate an ability to retain a target orient- ation after being relocated and acclimatized to a new geo- graphical location. - 4 - Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 ORD 1085-76 11. In response to the memorandum issued by the SE/COPS, the TCT developed a modified work effort which provides a straightforward demonstration of whether or not the A-B-C flight behavior (with photography) can be accomplished successfully, and an interim test of the operational capability including acclimatization target training, and target retention capabilities prior to moving the birds to Washington, D.C. for their final test. This modified work plan includes a fu tional test of clan- destine acclimatization procedures in Oklahoma and an inspection of project status with regar to the A-B-C flight behavior by the NIO and the TCT to be completed by the latter part of June 1976. 12. The following procedures will be utilized in pre- paring for the June.test. a. Present Avian training of A-B-C flight behavior, including clandestine release at A and search behavior at A for B, will continue in Oklahoma. The training will include clandestine release at point A which will-be located two to three miles from target B, search- oriented flight to target B (in �a direction that is opposite from the return flight to the home loft) landing on the target and obtaining pic- tures of the target and the target area, and, finally returning 50 miles to the home loft located in Oklahoma. b. On 28 May 1976, a.collateral effort was initiated in Oklahoma to determine if the Avian assets can be acclimatized to a new geographical location on a clandestine basis. . On this date a simulated second story clandestine loft was fabricated. Ten additional birds will be moved from the in California to the Oklahoma training area via air freight on 4 June, 1976. These birds will be housed in the simulated clandestine loft and their only view of the outside world will be provided through the housing of an air conditioner. These birds will be acclimatized by means of exercise releases and will return to the loft through the air conditioner until 'homing training is started. During homing training, the birds will still return to the home Fr Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 ORD 1685-76 loft through the air conditioner, however, they will be taken to an initial release distance of at least one mile for the initiation of homing train- ing. One or two additional birds will be taken from the home loft after acclimatization and transported to a distance of fifty miles for their first release. 13. The results of the acclimatization procedures and the operational A-B-C behavior (including Avian camera photo- graphs of the target area) will be demonstrated during the latter part of June 1976. This demonstration will be arranged to enable the NIO/SA and other designated visitors to observe the test from the various A-B-C positions. 14. On the assumption that the June test will be successful, a new interim test site will be prepared for the birds by the end of June 1976 (possibl) California �. and. the ORD/COTR will travel to to make a final determination of the suitability of thE area as an interim test site. If it turns out. LO u i acceptable area, the birds will be transported to this new test site acclimatized to a home loft by clandestine means, trained to "home" by clandestine means, and tested on A-B-C behavior against a simulated operational target. Upon satisfactory per- formance of this task, a short period of reinforced target training will be accomplished to strengthen the "flight-to target" behavior prior to moving the birds to Washington, D.C. The move to Washington will be completed during the first week of August and after a suitable period of acclimatization by clandestine means, separate A-B-C flight tests will be performed with three kits to determine the effects that differing time delays have on the retention of the A-B-C behavior. Camera Development Progress 15. The final camera design has been completed and submitted to preliminary testing. This camera, referred to as "camera number three" has undergone ground tests and has been flown six times on birds at the Oklahoma training site. The camera used the MINOX lens, has a weight of 35 grams which includes timer, film and batteries. The total flight weight of the system,- including the bird harness is 39.5 grams. A primary feature of this camera is the inclusion of a focal plain flattener which permits Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658 ORD 1085-76 accurate positioning of the film in the focal plain and a reduction in motor torque, and hence probability of jamming. Ultra thin base film appears to work well in this design and more pictures (200 black and white, 140 color) �per roll are possible. The shutter speed on this version of the camera has been shortened to 1/1400 �of a second. 16. The current camera production schedule calls for the completion of five additional cameras by 1 June 1976. Approximately one week will be required to complete per- formance reliability tests of these cameras. By approximately 14 June 1976, these five cameras will be ready for flight testing. By the end of June, six cameras of the new design and two cameras of the old design will be ready for demon- strational.use. 17. A meeting was held with Chief/APSD/NPIC, to discuss various turns and processing techniques. A number of problems involving these matters for both color and black and white film were discussed. During the meeting it was agreed that a series of tests will be conducted with the new camera and several film selections in order to determine the best film and proces- sing trade-offs between shutter speed, film speed, and film resolution. These recommendations will be integrated into the camera test in early June and verified during the flight, test in the latter part of June. Analyses of flight tests to date by NPIC supports the original estimate of 1.5 to two inch resolution when pictures are taken at 100 feet.altitude. 18. The lens has been assembled and tested in comparison with t e new camera (camera number 3) design. Both lens systems have field flatteners. The lens is an F2.5 lens (about a stop faster), has about the same resolution in the center and slightly better resolution at the edge of the field of view. It's major advantage is a faster stop which should allow for faster shutter speed or resolution. As time permits, a camera will be designed to incorporate this,lens and ground tests will be conducted to verify performance. 7 Sec'y TACANA TCT Approved for Release: 2019/07/30 C06637658