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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spooks: Ours And Theirs

Here is what we do or like to do:
And what follows below is how it is done by a superpower:
He was reportedly the most successful and valued agent/asset the United States had run inside the Soviet Union in two decades. His documents and drawings had unlocked the secrets of several of the USSR’s radars and guided-weapons R & D years into the future. He had even smuggled circuit-boards and blueprints out of the R & D laboratories where he was working. His espionage thus put the US in a position to dominate the skies over hostile airspace and confirmed the vulnerability of USSR-developed air-defence networks. The agent was Adolf Tolkachev, an engineer and specialist in airborne radars who worked deep inside the Soviet military-industrial complex. Over a six-year perriod, Tolkachev met with his CIA handlers 21 times on the streets of Moscow. Tolkachev’s story has now been detailed in 944 pages of previously secret CIA cables about the operation that was declassified without condition for the forthcoming book, ‘The Billion Dollar Spy’.  The CIA did not review the book before publication. The documents and interviews with the participants offer a remarkably detailed picture of how military-industrial espionage was conducted in the USSR during some of the most tense years of the Cold War. Tolkachev was driven by a desire to avenge history. His wife’s mother was executed and her father sent to forced-labour camps during Stalin’s Great Terror of the 1930s. He also described himself as disillusioned with communism and “a dissident at heart”. He wanted to strike back at the USSR, and did so by betraying its military secrets to the US.
His CIA case officers often observed that he seemed determined to cause the maximum damage possible to the Soviet Union, despite the risks. The punishment for treason was execution. Tolkachev did not want to die at the hands of the KGB. Therefore, he asked for and got a suicide pill from the CIA he could use if caught. The US Air Force estimated at one point in the operation that Tolkachev’s espionage had saved the United States $2 billion in weapons R & D. Tolkachev used to smuggle most of the secret documents out of his office during lunch-hour hidden in his overcoat, and photographed them using a Pentax 35mm camera clamped to a chair in his apartment. In return, Tolkachev asked the CIA for money, mostly as a sign of respect. There wasn’t much to buy in shortage-plagued Moscow in those days. He also wanted albums of Western music—the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep and others—for his teenage son. Tolkachev thus became one of the CIA’s most productive agents of the Cold War.
Documentation supplied by Tolkachev by late 1983 had included: complete sets of engineering and technical data-packages of Phazatron NIIR’s 385kg N-019 Rubin RPLK-29/Sapfir-29 pulse-Doppler radar with twist-cassegrain antenna and its successor, the NO19MP Topaz—both meant for the MiG-29B-12 and MiG-29B-13; complete sets of engineering and technical data-packages of JSC V Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design’s N-001 Myech/RPLK-27 X-band pulse-Doppler radar with twist-cassegrain antenna for the Su-27SK; complete sets of engineering and technical data-packages of the Zaslon RP-31/N-007 PESA radar on-board the MiG-31; complete sets of engineering and technical data-packages of the Shmel 3-D radar for the Beriev A-50 AEW & CS from NPO Vega; and complete sets of engineering and technical data-packages of both 2K12 Kub MR-SAM family and the Buk-лю1 MR-SAM.