KAL 007 on the Water: a sighting

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Background to the Report

Information from immigrating former Soviet military men about Soviet radar trackings of KAL 007 to what was believed to be a safe water landing had come to the Israeli Research Centre for Prisons, Psych-Prisons, and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the U.S.S.R. From there it was conveyed to Senator Jesse Helms, the ranking member of the minority staff (Republican) of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Senator Helms requested American intelligence agencies, main among them the CIA and the NSA, to verify the information.. Partial but essential verification was the result and the Minority Staff of the Committee produced the 1991 draft report of the incident. Based on the information from the Israel Research Centre and the intelligence information of the report. Senator Helms wrote Boris Yeltsin asking him to convey to the :Committee all information concerning survivors, including their present whereabouts, camp locations, etc., with special request for information concerning Democratic Rep. from Georgia, Larry McDonald, a sitting congressman who had been aboard KAL 007 He also asked Yeltsin to supply all military communications related to the shootdown.

  • Here [1] is the complete text of the 1991 Republican Staff Study.of the Committee on Foreign Relations
  • Here [2] is the background and history of the 1991 Republican Staff Study of the Committee on Foreign Relations
  • Here [3] is the letter from Rear Admiral Bud Nance, Minority Staff Director under Senator Helms, to the director of the Israeli Research Centre affirming that the information coming from Israel to Committee on Foreign Relations had been partially confirmed by the CIA and was the basis for Sen. Helms writing to Yeltsin..
  • Here [4] is the letter of Senator Helms to Boris Yeltsin with attached interrogatories.

Soviet aerial sighting of KAL 007 on the water

Some Soviet support aircraft sent aloft with the Su-15 that downed KAL 007 were unable to locate the stricken jumbo jet, neither in the air during its twelve-minute plus post-detonation flight, nor on the water. See 18:29:13, 18:29:54, and 18:38:37 of KAL 007: Timeline of Interception and Shootdown. But others, or these afterwards, were able to make visual contact with KAL 007. According to the Republican Staff Study, “sensitive special intelligence” (NSA electronic intercepts) revealed the following: About four hours after the shoot-down, Soviet Air Defense command posts were reporting that Soviet pilots were saying that a civilian passenger plane had been shot down instead of a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance plane, and they (the command posts) were expressing regret, both that they had not downed the RC-135 and that now the Americans would accuse them of killing Americans.

Intelligence Analysis

The knowledge that Americans among the passengers were killed could not have come from media coverage of event as at that time the world was unaware that KAL 007 had been shot down, though there was knowledge that the flight was overdue and missing. The Study asks how, while flying overhead, could Soviet pilots conclude that Americans were among the passengers killed? They might conclude from seeing the aircraft's distinctive hump as the plane floated on the water that it was a passenger plane that was shot down, as in 1983 there were no military versions of the Boeing 747. And they might have seen the distinctive bird emblem on the tail of the aircraft—the symbol in use then by Korean Air Lines—but this would not indicate the nationalities of the passengers. The Study would conclude that the only way Soviet pilots could know that Americans had been killed is if they had heard that information on their radios during the time the rescue was actually taking place.

“Thus the only way that Soviet pilots could possibly have identified the nationality of some of the KAL 007 passengers as Americans, from the air, would have been from possible emergency radio communications which U. S. Intelligence did not intercept, from either the stricken airliner ditched at sea, or from its life rafts, or from Soviet rescue boats.” (Republican Staff StudyReport, pg. 47)

See also