The Chinese air defense applied ambush tactic, turned off the radar to surprise before shooting down US-made U-2 reconnaissance in 1962.
In the late 1950s, Washington and Taipei started to launch a top-secret reconnaissance program called “Soft Touch” to track Beijing’s nuclear project. To access inland locations in northwestern mainland China, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited and trained a series of Taiwanese pilots to fly U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.
“U-2 reconnaissance has been regularly flying through Chinese airspace since 1957 to spy on Soviet territory. China has been a reconnaissance target since Washington learned that Moscow was supporting Beijing. development of nuclear capabilities and ballistic missiles, “said Dino A. Brugioni, senior officer at the CIA’s National Image Decoding Center (NIPC).
Brugioni said reconnaissance aircraft and satellites were the primary source of intelligence data on Chinese nuclear and missile facilities because there was almost no public information at the time. “To some extent, China poses an even bigger challenge than the Soviet Union because we have too little information to confirm what’s going on,” he said.
Pilot and U-2 aircraft of the Black Miao Air Force. Photo: Taiwan Air Power.
Taiwanese pilots were brought to the United States for flight training with U-2 reconnaissance from March 1959, while flights over mainland China airspace were still fully controlled by American pilots. This changed after the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 aircraft piloted by pilot Gary Powers on May 1, 1960. Just five days later, US President Dwight Eisenhower agreed to sell a squadron of U-2s to Taiwan.
With the CIA’s support, the US-Dai mixed U-2 unit was established in 1959 as the No. 35 Squadron “Black Miao”, began reconnaissance of mainland China since 1962. In in the first phase, the reconnaissance flights took place very smoothly because the Chinese military was unable to shoot down the U-2s.
“U-2 aircraft usually reconnaissance during the day. We tried to attack them but could not reach the height of American reconnaissance. The MiG-17 only had a maximum ceiling of 16,000 meters, while the U -2 flew at an altitude of over 20,000 meters. We could detect them entering the airspace but could do nothing, “a Chinese pilot surnamed Han revealed about the U-2 confrontations at the time.
China then abandoned its efforts to dispatch interceptors, and began to deploy and camouflage the S-75 Dvina anti-aircraft missile system near nuclear facilities. This tactic was effective, causing the Hac Mieu squadron to suffer the first damage on 9/9/1962.
The Chinese air defense fired an S-75 missile that day, shot down a U-2 near Nanchang City, and pilot Chen Huai was killed in a Chinese military hospital because of his injuries. Washington denied any allegations regarding the flight, although in fact the U-2s of the Black Miao squadron were made by the US, maintained and replaced if necessary by CIA staff.
“The S-75 is a limited range missile. To hit the U-2 at cruise altitude, the bullet must be launched almost directly below its flight path. China was only four battalions of arrows. fire is capable of being ready to fight, without reinforcements from the Soviet Union, “Han revealed.
The HQ-2 missile launcher, a Chinese-made S-75 replica, is in a museum in Beijing. Photo: Flickr / Ken Patterson.
The shortage forced China to adopt guerrilla tactics to intercept U-2 aircraft. The missile launchers are permanently mounted on the trucks to increase maneuverability. Because China has a grasp of the enemy’s priority targets, China places anti-aircraft missiles around that area and fires only when the U-2 enters a 15 km range.
The Chinese air defenses also apply many measures to hide themselves such as camouflage the battlefield, not turn on the fire control radar until the target is within range. “The U-2 has very poor maneuverability. When it gets into range, we will suddenly turn on the radar and fire it. The U-2 pilot is almost unable to react in time,” Han added.
China’s request to explore the nuclear program requires Washington and the island of Taiwan to step up their reconnaissance activities, in the context of Beijing deploying more S-75 battlefields and threatening U-2 flights. Two more aircraft were shot down on November 1, 1963 and July 7, 1964, prompting Taiwan to ask the United States to install stronger electronic warfare systems for Hac Miao U-2 aircraft.
The U-2s at that time had the System XII irradiation radar warning system, but did not carry the modern System XIII jamming set due to the US fear that they would fall into the hands of China. The demand for spying increased so that the US Department of Defense later agreed to install the System XIII, but asked the Taiwanese pilot not to start them until it was discovered that he was captured by the S-75 combination radar.
One more U-2 crashed in a situation that was kept in secret for more than 50 years, prompting Taiwan to refuse to spy on mainland China unless the pilot was activated System XIII during the entire flight. However, this measure is not really hi