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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some of My Notes: Part One

Distant Early Warning Line Radars: The Quest for Automatic Signal Detection
F. Robert Naka and William W. Ward

In the early 1950s, the threat of manned bombers carrying nuclear weapons across the arctic region was of paramount concern in continental defense. The 1952 Summer Study at MIT recommended the development of an early-warning radar line across the northern reaches of Alaska and Canada, from Cape Lisburne on the northwest corner of Alaska to Cape Dyer on Baffin Island on the east coast of Canada. It was an ambitious undertaking, particularly since the radar system had not yet been developed or designed and a new detection process had yet to be invented. Among other innovations the radar net was proposed to use automatic-detection techniques to reduce drastically the heavy manpower requirements and unacceptable time delays characteristic of manual radar operations of the period. After the U.S. Air Force accepted the Summer Study recommendation in December 1952, Lincoln Laboratory was contracted to deliver ten radar sets by 30 April 1953, a period of less than five months. F. Robert Naka was assigned the task of developing the automated radar signal processing and alarm system. The article reviews the primary author’s experiences with this challenging radar project. While the technical problems sound primitive in view of today’s radar capabilities, they were met and solved at a pace that was easily ten times faster than today’s Department of Defense developments.

– AGARD AGARD -- -- Advisory Group for Aerospace R&D Advisory Group for Aerospace R&D
Established 1952 by Dr Theodore von Karman (USAF Ch Scientist)
Advance the development & application of aerospace technology
(USAF lead in US)
Government, industry, academia
Under NATO Military Committee

Historian's Column

Fiftieth Anniversary Milestone for the Air Force:
Space and Missiles

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Air Force's efforts to establish space and missile superiority in support of our national defense.

In 1951, the Air Force procured the Beacon Hill Study in Project Lincoln at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In its final form, the study reported on intelligence future forecasting. The Air Force's role in ICBM development and in strategic reconnaissance during that period made the study's conclusion all the more significant. The study stressed the fact that every nation's skies should be open for inspection of their military capabilities. Their conclusions were referred to as the "Open Skies" report.
The Cold War was in full swing as the Soviets posed a very significant air threat. In 1947, the Air Force had established its Long-Range Detection Program to monitor the Soviet nuclear program. Its air-sampling capability discovered that the USSR had exploded a nuclear bomb in August 1949.
Detection devices of all types were created to monitor the Soviet Union. The National Security Agency was created in 1952 to gather communications intelligence.
In 1952, the U.S. exploded a hydrogen bomb device. The following year, the USSR conducted a similar test. The Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) required modernization. Unfortunately, the Air Force did not have the resources that were needed until the Korean War created new funding opportunities.
The Air Force made the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) a priority. But accurate information on enemy targets was severely lacking. In response, the Air Force Secretary Harold Talbott ordered that the missile program receive all necessary funding.
Victor McElheny
"Edwin Land and Restraint by Reconnaissance"
February 12, 1999
by Glen Asner

Completed in August of 1951, the Project Charles report advocated improving national air defense measures and provided a justification for the establishment of MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the development of the SAGE air defense system. In the Beacon Hill report of 1952, Land and his co-authors advocated improving radar and photoreconnaissance techniques to keep track of Soviet military developments. In these projects and as a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board from 1952 through 1957, Land earned his credentials as a member of the civilian scientific elite (which included such luminaries as Theodore von Karman, James R. Killian, and John von Neumann) that exercised a great deal of influence over military science and technology policy during the Cold War.
from CIA memorandum
Dr. Kaplan ex-
pressed the belief that the green fireball phenomena should be further
investigated. Dr. Kaplan's views and this phenomena were discussed
on 12 April 1948 with Dr. Theodore von Karman, Chairman, USAF Scientific
Advisory Board, who feels that the problem is more properly in the
field of upper atmosphere research than the field of intelligence.



to the




11. Members of the Scientific Advisory Board to the Chief of
Staff, USAF, who have provided consultant services to Project
"Grudge", include Dr. Irving Langmuir, Chief, General Electric Research and Dr. G. E. Valley of MIT.

12. Dr. G. E. Valley has displayed an active interest in Project
"Grudge" to the extent of reviewing the reported incidents and writing
an overall type of analysis in which he groups the various objects and
then analyses each group from the standpoint of scientific feasibility.
"Toward New Horizons"/Von Karman
Bruce Macabee
For an hour the United States military was under a condition of national emergency during the morning of December 6, 1950. Two days later the FBI was informed that the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps had been placed on Immediate High Alert for any information related to flying saucers.

On December 6, Air Force Colonel Charles Winkle, Assistant Executive in the Directorate for Plans, wrote a memorandum for Secretary of Defense George Marshall about this event. It confirms the alert:

SUBJECT: Air Alert - 1030 Hours , 6 December 1950
1. The ConAC (Continental Air Command) Air Defense Controller notified the Headquarters USAF Command Post that at 1030 hours a number of unidentified aircraft were approaching the northeast area of the United States and that there was no reason to believe the aircraft were friendly.
2. This information was further amplified at 1040 hours as follows. By radar contact it was determined that approximately 40 aircraft were in flight, at 32,000 feet, on a course of 200 degrees in the vicinity of Limestone, Maine.
3. The emergency alert procedure went into effect immediately.
4. The Office of the President was notified. Brigadier General Landry returned the call and stated that the President had been notified and that:
a. All information in this matter was to be released by the Department of the Air Force.
b. Office of the President would release no information.
c. The substance of a and b above was to be passed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
5. At 1104 hours the ConAC Air Defense Controller states that the original track had faded out and it appeared that the flight as originally identified is a friendly flight.
6. ConAC took immediate action to dispatch interceptors on the initial contact.


Strong had links with strategic reconnaissance studies such as the 1952 MIT/Lincoln Laboratory "Beacon Hill" project and the reconnaissance panel of the USAF Scientific Advisory Board. At the same time, he was involved with CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence UFO research. See http://www/

MIT's Project Whirlwind

Dr. George Valley, an MIT physics professor

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