Friday, 17 August 2012

USA, Britain and France Will Stop At Nothing To Keep Russian Aviation Down

by Trowbridge H. Ford

When the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union went belly up, Russia's industries had the greatest difficulties staying afloat. While it had many important ones in the defense field, the end of the East-West conflict while the Warsaw Treaty Organization was collapsing meant that they no longer had a captive market for their weapons, and. consequently, saw a serious decline in the size and scope of their sales. The best products were in military aircraft, and submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons which could interest hardly any civilian customers because they did not have the distances, needs and clientele of the former Soviet Union. They had little need for long-range military transports, and giant, allegedly unsinkable nuclear submarines like the Kursk as they had neither the territory nor the coastline for any such
purchases. The Russian defense esblishment could only hope for upgrading military hardware, especially jet fighters that countries had already bought, and repairing what little materiel remained.

Russian military equipment was the consequence of how it had developed into a world power. When thed Bolshevics look over from the Tsar, the country was a loosely- tied federation of states of essentially an agrarain nature which had a well educated elite, and incredible potential which was hardly developed. Stalin certainly recognized the basic problems when he gained power, and he soon took the most drastic steps to reduce its risks of being eliminated by anti-Soviet interests. In the process, an aeronautical interest, led by the promising designer Andrei Tupolev, was essentially reduced to the state's miliary requirments. By most draconian measures, Stalin tried to bridge the military gap between the USSR, and the West - what he had little resources for accomplishing except brute force.  The rural popuation was made to pay at barely subsistence wages for the development of the country's infrastructure, and the build up its military capability to defend itself from attack on a shoe-string basis.

The best evidence of this was shown in the nature of Soviet aviation. Moscow never really thought of developing a long-range bomber - the Spanish Civil War teaching it all the wrong lessons about modern warfare - and civil aviation suffered because of it sincr all the USSR's immediate enemies, the Poles, Germans, Baltics, and Scandinavians were close at hand. Even Soviet intelligence was much more interested in recruiting like-minded foreigners, and what their governments were planning on doing rather than how they planned to do it in terms of men and equipment. Stalin concentrateed upon the Soviets obtaining Western aviation technology openly rather than deveoping their own as he did not have that much trust in his scientists. As a result, Moscow was still well behind when the Germans finally attacked in 1941 - its fighters, dive and medium-range bombers, though incredibly great in number, were hardly a match for the Luftwaffe's latest creations.

The Soviets had not benefitted either by the alleged treason of Red Army's Chief of Armament's Marhal M. N. Tukhachevskii with the Nazis.Their joint testing of weapons contrary to the terms of the Versailles Treaty had given Moscow all the wrong ideas about what Berlin was planning. While Tukhachevskii was a big adovocate of developing rockets, his followers - i. e.,  Tupolev, Sergei Korolev, and Valentin Glushko - were the core of designers for Soviet aviation, and paid accordingly for their alleged disaffection.  (David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb, p. 146) Korolev worked for Tupolev's design section of prisoner scientists after a spell in the Kolyma gulag. Tupolev was still in the dog house for having pushed the develoment of the TB-3 strategic bomber which had set some distance records but had proven of little value in Spain.

Little wonder that after the war, the Soviets were still playing catch-up, especially thanks to Western help of an official or covert nature, when it came to aviation. Again Moscow imitated Western technology with mixed results. For example, Stalin rejected People's Commissar A. I. Sakhurin's proposal that Soviet scientists should develop their own jets.  "On April 24, 1946 the Lak (Lavochin) -15  and the MiG-9 fighters, using Geeman JUMO-004 and BMW-003 jet engines," Holloway wrote, "made their first flight.  Shakhurin was soon replaced and sent to prison." (p. 147)    

The Mikoyan MiG-15 and the Yakolev-15 were even powered by Soviet modified Rolls-Royce Derwent and Nene engines - what allegedly produced this surprised response from the Soviet leader. - "What kind of fool would be willing to sell his secrets." (Quoted from p. 235.)

It was only during the 'fifties - while Stalin was disappearing from the scene - that Soviet aeronautical engineers were able to design and build the latest jet interceptors, the MiG-19 and the Yak-25.

The same problem plagued the design of a long-range bomber - the prerequisite for a viable international commercial aviation - as Stalin was always sticking his nose in it. The best one it had was the Tupolev Tu-4 - named in honor of the rehabilitated Tupolev - based upon captured American B-29s, and really obsolete by the time it appeared in any numbers. It had taken too long a time for Tupolev to find the right engine for it, the Mikulin AM-03. Piston engines, though, could just not produce enough speed to outrun enemy interceptors.

What was required was similar jet engines for the bombers, but Stalin was hooked on the idea of turbo jets which Tupolev would not accept, though the Soviet leader ordered him to do so but this time without any backing down. A four-engine turbojet bomber required too much fuel to be an effective long-range one. Stalin still got his way with V. M. Miasishchev building the plane (aka the "Bison" by NATO), but it never overcome its refueling problems. Ultimately, Tupolev too built his four-engine, turbopropeller bomber, the Tu-95 aka the "Bear" by NATO.

The biggest trouble with these planes wass that neither had a prospect of becoming a viable commercial airliner for the isolated USSR.  The "Bear" could fly at the speed of sound, and had a range of over 12,000 kilometers, but it only had a payload of 11 metric tons - hardly the making of a comericial airliner,.  The "Bison" was even faster, but it had a much shorter range, and could carry hardly more when it come to payload. It was only because nuclear devices became much lighter and versatile that the planes had even any military value.

It was about this time that the Soviet rocket scientists took over the main strategic needs of the country, and aviation, except for the building of better interceptors and cargo planes, became a backwater in the field.  The most amusing illustration of this occurred when Miasishchev claimed that his 201M bomber was really an intercontinental one since the refueling problem could be solved by having it land in Mexico after dropping its nukes rather than returning to the USSR. Khrushchev snapped back: "What do you think Mexico is - our mother-in-law? You rhink we can simply go calling any time we want? The Mexicans would never let us have the plane back." (Quoted from Khrushchev Remembers, p. 71.)

What little propect large Soviet planes had for either military or civilian purposes dried up essentially with détente - Moscow agreeing to the ABM Treaty and the Strategic Limitation Arms Treaties (SALT-1 and II)). By setting the number of strategic missiles a country could have, the number of strategic bombers it had too became essentially an unimportant issue.

While Bears and Bison took part in Moscow's traditional .May Day parades - showing their ability to deliver the bombs along with the massive missiles on display - they were considered irrelevant by the Reagan administration when it and Thatcher's government decided to end the Cold War with Moscow at Olof Palme's expense on February 28, 1986.  While the plan was to be kicked off by US and Nato submarines sinking Soviet boomers as they hurriedly went on station in reaction to the surprise, the National Reconnassiance Office's Keyhole radar satellite was to prevent any Soviet ICBMs from becoming airborne by destroying them while they were still on the ground being fueled. As for Soviet strategic bombers, they were to be deposed of, like the Wehrmacht accomplished in the opening days of Operation Barrbarossa, while still on the ground when Nato's Anchor Express Exercise was mopping up on the Kola peninsula what was left of Soviet resistance.  Fortunately, Soviet counterintelligence and countermeasures, the failure of the Space Shuttle Challenger to put the satellite into space, mutinies by the crucial Atlantic Fleet Commander Admiral Carl Trost, and avlanches in Norways' Vassdalen which killed many of its engineers prevented this all from happening.

For more, see this link:

Tupolev's son Alexei tried to bridge the gaps between Soviet aviation and the West by designing and building the Tu-144, a competitor of the British-French built Concorde, but it was sabotaged at the 1973 Le Bourget Air Show when it was taking off by an unannounced small plane, allegedly involved in photographing it, getting in its way. It forced the Tu-144 into a drastic maneuver to avoid a mid-air collision, but in swerving out of the way, it engaged in maneuvers which the plane could not withstand, breaking up and then exploding when it hit the ground, killing the crew, and seveeral people on the ground. Instead of becoming the Concorde's real competitor, it was soon cast aside by anyone interested.

For moe, see this link:

The sad state of Soviet aviation and international transport, especialty of a long-range nature, was well on display when the Berlin Wall came down and USSR finally collapsed. The only international carrier was Areoflot, and its fleet was almost totally made up of Boeing and Airbus planes, thanks considerably to the sabotaging of the the Tupolev Tu-144.  As Rodric Braithwaite noted in Across The Moscow River  when he returned to Russia as Britain's Ambassador:  "Moscow was a patently run-down city.  Apart from one huge placard high on the Moscow skyline which exhorted the citizens to 'FLY AEROFLOT' (an unnecessay injunction in a country with huge distances and only onr airline)..." (p. 46) Of course, all the old designers of planes  for limited travel were still around - e. g., Ilyushin, Irkut, and Sukhoi - but they did not have the resources and clientele to produce anything much better.

Moreover, conditions only became worse during the Boris Yeltsin years. The worst thing that happened was the 5th Congress of People's Deputies giving Yeltsin the power to rule by decree and to implement ecomomic reform in the fall of 1991 before a constitution had been adopted, and the state rebuilt. "It was Yeltsin," Lilia Shevtsova wrote in Russia: Lost in Transiltion, "who could not stop infighting among the elite, and handed power to his favorites, enabled dliques to help themselves to state property, and allowed Russia to drift back toward authoritarianism." (p. 32) The stealing was the price that Yeltsin had to pay to get re-elected as President. and once the oligarchs were in power, their "natural monopolies" were assisted in improverishing Russia by outside developers, IMF and World Bank credits, and NATO's enlragement.

LIttle wonder that the new President, Vladimir Putin, tried to regain control of its assets, organizations and potential.  While oligarchs like Boris Berezovski. Roman
Abramovich, and  Vladimir Potamin were being pushed aside, Putin appointed a new set of oligarchs to take back what was in Russia's national interest. "The creation of national champion companies is proceeding apace," Shevtsova wrote, "with Gazprom and Rosneft swallowing smaller companies, Aeroflot buying up regional airlines, and companies that design and construct aircraft (Sukhoy, Mig, Irkut, Tupolev, and IIlyushin) merging." (p. 123) To stop the continuing purchasing of Airbus and Boeing planes - what Aeroflot was still buying in quantity as late as the spring of 2007 - Sukhoi built and perfected Super Jet 100 in the hope of finally breaking the habit.

Foir more about the plane, see this link:

The possibilities of the Sukhoi plane at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport were obvious.  The airport, built by Boeing's holding company back in 1928, and maintained by Lockheed-Martin recently, needed an addition like the Super Jet 100 to its fleet of planes which used its runways often but with some risk because they were quite short, and had been the scene of too many accidents.  Also, the airport is having trouble expanding because of opposition by residents, and their complaints about its noise and emissions.  The performance of the Sukhoi plane seemed an ideal solution, if purchased by its ten or so carriers, to the complaints, and some of them were investigating possible purchases, once it was fully approved by the authorities on February 3, 2012.

What was developing could not have missed the attention of the resident FBI agent Steven Ivens who had worked for the Los Anglese Police Department in counterterrorism for many years before joining the Bureau three years ago in Burbank, especially since the airport had its own police force which needed to be informed about what was afoot, and what its feedback was.  Seems Ivens was well infomed about the airport's problems, and the potential that Sukhoi sales had in solving them. Ivens may have even heard about this from licensed pilot, and sales consultant Peter Adler who, though he lived in central California's Oakley, was often on the scene for flights and possible purchases. Adler was a most affable fellow who made friends most easily, and would talk their ears off about what he was doing.

Of course, Boeing was quite aware of what was going on, and took steps to stop it.  As Britain and France had helped it and themselves in the crash of the Tupolev Tu-144, it was now Washington's turn to put Russian aviation back in its place. Seems that the plane's air conditioning system was sabotaged, either to break down while in flight or start emitting smoke which would understandably alarm any potential buyers on a demonstration flight- what Adler was scheduled to do on May 9th for Indonesian Sriwinjaya Airlines as a pilot and consultant.

As with most plots though, things did not happen just as planned.  When the cabin started smoking up, the pilot asked immediately the air traffic controllers to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet, and they simply left the decision up to him.  He continued the flight plan at that attitude until the plane crashed into the volcano, Mount Salak - a notroious danger, and in an almost impenetrable environment - killing all 45 passengers on board.

When the full passenger manifest was released the next day, Agent Ivens, who had been becoming increasingly depressed about what might occur, was shocked to see that Adler was one of the victims.The news made Ivens recall some of the rumors that had been flying around about the demonstrations, and since Adler was an innocent American, Ivens decided to contact former Bureau agent Donald Sachtleben about what he thought about the alleged accident.  Sachtleben had a long history of investigating such incidents, going all the way back to the Unibomber's smoke bomb attacks on American carriers, and culminating with the 9/11 attacks in which thousands of Americans were needlessly killed.  They arranged to meet on the morning of May 11th to discuss the matter further.

The only trouble was that the National Security Agency (NSA) picked up the conversation, and its Special Collection Serivice (SPS) apparently arranged the fixing of the problem.  It is the continuing service that William King Harvey started for the CIA's Division D  to carry out assassinations, and the only real change is that it has much more sophisticated electronic equipment for locating targets. In this case, SPS agents seem to have kidnapped Ivens while on his way to meet Sachtleben, and then took him to the mountains nearby wher he was kept until he could be killed, and his body placed where it could finally be found - what occurred about three week ago.  Sachtleben, not knowing what had happened to Ivens, finally made his way back to Indianapolis where he was arrested by police when he returned home for possessing child pornography on his computers - what NSA had also located.

To put the icing on the cake, The Bureau and agents of the Diplomatic Service played a charade where stand-ins for Ivens and Sachtleben acted out a little scene for the benefit of the Russians'  Chief Consul in San Francisco Vladimir Vinokuro while he was staying in an LA hotel.  The stand-ins acted as if they were reporting a domestic act of terrorism in which the perpetrators were "all insane", and then the alleged Ivens ran off to the hills where the authorities were warning the public that he is armed, and possibly dangerous.

The stand-in for Sachtleben simply disappeared, along with all the evidence about what really happened to the Sukhoi Super Jet 100.      
For more about the incident, see this link but be careful about selecting fact for fancy: