View Full Version : Radar coverage in Turkey in 1966

13th Sep 2017, 09:19
Can any ex-military people help me?

I am interested in which western military radar systems were in place in Turkey after the US removed the Jupiter missiles in 1963. Civil aircraft operating on the airways from west to east across Turkey towards Iran did so under procedural control – as far as I know there was no civil radar control.

However, there must have been military radars in place which would have detected any civil aircraft straying into Soviet airspace towards the Caspian Sea. If so, were they operated by the Turkish military, the US military, or both? And what was their capability?

18th Sep 2017, 07:28

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18th Sep 2017, 20:01
The Turks had radars at Izmir and Diyarbakir but south of the northern mountains. When the RAF provided targets for NATO/CENTO exercises and flew out over the Black Sea they weren't allowed to head south below FL250 otherwise they couldn't be seen. The ABM site also located at Diyarbakir covered missile launches - but low level radar coverage was effectively zero.

However, as we now know, the USSR didn't employ low level tactics anyway - they would have penetrated at high level under heavy ECM.

19th Sep 2017, 02:51
Thanks ORAC and IGh,

I had better explain why I am interested in this.

I am long retired and amuse myself these days writing fictional short stories on airline themes. The one I am working on at the moment is set in 1966. A 707 is on it way at night eastbound over Turkey towards Teheran. For various reasons the crew make a major navigational error - they don't turn south towards Tabriz after passing Van but continue straight on into Soviet airspace out over the Caspian Sea south of Baku.

They are seen by Russian military radar and two MIG 21s are sent up to intercept. Fortunately the 707 crew realise their mistake, turn south and cross into Iranian airspace before they can be intercepted. They remain totally unaware of the MIGs or what might have happened.

In 1966, Turkish civil ATC did not have radar coverage in this area, they used procedural control. 1966 is not long after the US had removed the Jupiter missiles as part of the agreement which ended the Cuban Missile Crisis but, presumably, there would still be a military presence of some sort and military radar coverage - either US or Turkish. In my story they do not observe the 707 entering Soviet airspace.

The first the western allies know about this navigational error is when the Russians accuse the UK of mounting a spying mission and use this to embarrass the western negotiators so as to extract some concessions during the nuclear non-proliferation talks which were taking place at that time in Geneva. The UK Foreign Office then summon the chairman of the airline who instigates an internal inquiry. The action in my story takes place mainly in the flight manager's office when the captain is interviewed.

So, you see, all I need to know is; is it plausible, for whatever reason, for the Turkish military (or the US if they were still there) not to notice the 707 straying into Soviet airspace?

The story is prompted by a real incident!!

19th Sep 2017, 12:42
I can't help on the military radar situation over northeast Turkey circa 1966, but the possibility of nav error was high in those days and my recollection is that the airways were defined by relatively low-powered NDBs. That said, I recall a daytime flight from Teheran to Akrotiri circa 1967/8 when, once tuned to one of the beacons, the bearing shown looked distinctly dodgy and I found that there was music and speech on the frequency. Clearly a radio station was swamping it, and running a quick 3-line reverse fix showed the source to be just across the then-Soviet border, at Yerevan if memory serves.

20th Sep 2017, 17:22

Many thanks, your problem with the NDB certainly gives me some more scope for the navigation error.

But I wonder whether any other of our PPRuNe experts can help with some information on the military radar coverage in that area.

20th Sep 2017, 17:50
Well, I probably flew the CENTO route by day and by night as often as anyone else. It was always stressed that our Russian friends "just over the border" had NDBs on the same frequency but much more powerful for the unwary to follow.

Did not a US military C-130 fall foul of this?

What I do remember was being told that a lot of the power supplies to the NDBs were compromised by the locals looking for a free power supply in the winter!

Just imagine that you live halfway up a Turkish/Iranian mountain covered in several feet of snow. By lucky chance there is an NDB nearby which contributes absolutely nothing to the local economy as far as anyone can see so why not tap off the electrical supply for the winter for absolutely no one is going to battle up to the beacon in deep snow to see what is going on until springtime?

21st Sep 2017, 04:39
Thanks JW411. That is all grist to the mill.

21st Sep 2017, 16:24
I flew the Nicosia-Bahrain - Nicosia route in a Hastings a few times in 1958. It was ages ago, but I recall the NDB's wandering all over the place at 10,000', I am sure there was no radar and we were aware of the danger of siren calls from fake Russian beacons in the mountains close the Turkish border. It was thought an Air Charter Tudor on it's way to Woomera may have been enticed by one of them.


The mountains seemed very close!

22nd Sep 2017, 07:23
brakedwell, Thanks for that link, I have sent you a PM.

22nd Sep 2017, 09:35
Did not a US military C-130 fall foul of this?

09/02/58 US Air Force RC-130 Crew: 17
(6 killed, bodies returned to US custody; 11 unaccounted for, no remains)
This aircraft was apparently shot down by Soviet fighters 24 miles inside Soviet airspace in Soviet Armenia. At first the Soviets denied any knowledge of the incident; they later stated that the aircraft had simply "crashed." The remains of 6 crewmembers were returned to US custody on September 24, 1958. The Soviets denied any knowledge of the 11 other crew members on October 16, 1958. However, "The Soviet magazine Ogonyok, in a January 15, 1961 article reported that eleven personnel parachuted from the aircraft and were captured in the town of Yerevan... Subsequently Soviet authorities reported the magazine presented incorrect facts." It is possible that this aircraft was "meaconed" into Soviet airspace deliberately by false navigational signals broadcast by the Soviets.Crewmembers: The two lists below are inconsistent with other information available on the numbers of casualties mentioned above. All accounts agree that 11 crewmembers were unaccounted for and 6 remains returned to US custody. However, 13 names, not 11, are on the list of unaccounted for crewmembers for this aircraft presented in January 1992 to the Russian Government by the US Government. The four names listed below under the "known dead" category are those men who were listed in a Spetember 13, 1958, New York Times article containing the names of all 17 crewmembers, but who are not among the 13 in the January 1992 list. Presumably, therefore, two of them in the January 1992 list are actually among those whose remains were returned to US custody.

Unaccounted For:
Duncan, Paul E. CPT
Petrochilos,George P. MSG
Mello, Arthur L. TSG
Price, Leroy SSG
Oshinskie, Robert J. A1C
Bourg, Archie T.Jr A2C
Ferguson,James E.Jr A2C
Fields, Joel H. A2C
Kamps, Harold T. A2C
Maggiacomo, Gerald C.A2C
Mankins, Clement O. A 2C
Medeiros, Gerald H. A2C
Moore, Robert H. A2C
Known Dead (remains returned to US custody)
Simpson, John E. CPT
Swiestra, Rudy J.CPT
Jeruss, Edward J. CPT
Vallareal, Ricardo M 1LT


Reference other incidents on the USSR/Iranian. Border google “meaconing Iran” and you’ll find several cases.

I was a member on a CENTO exercise in Turkey in 1976 along with a couple of senior Iranian officers, I asked them if they ever had any problems with border incidents. “Not at all”, they replied, “the rules are very clear - if they cross the border we shoot them down, and if we cross the border they shoot us down”.

Any aircraft crossing the border not on a flight plan or squawking emergency and calling on 121.5 would not have got far in one piece.

23rd Sep 2017, 08:17

Many thanks, I have sent you a PM

23rd Sep 2017, 16:45
Your mention of Diyarbakir made me get the logbooks out. I did an interesting flight from Bahrain to Tehran on 12.09.71 (Argosy XN852) with the SBS in the back. At Tehran we picked up some of the Shah's special forces and set off for Rasht (an airfield on the south side of the Caspian Sea which is actually below sea level). Now getting an Argosy from Tehran to Rasht would have taken all day on an IFR flight plan but my very experienced navigator knew this neck of the woods well from his time on an Embassy Devon based in Amman. He suggested a VFR plan through the Elburz mountains at 6,500 feet (the mountains go up to 18,500 feet). To my amazement, ATC at Meherabad accepted the flight plan without a murmur. After 55 minutes of spectacular scenery we were on the ground at Rasht, offloaded our passengers and so departed for Akrotiri.

We had a day off in Akrotiri and departed on 14.09.71 for Diyarbakir. For the life of me, I cannot remember why we were going there. Perhaps we had spares for a stranded Canberra or something. Anyway, the point of the story is that I can remember being tracked on radar from Diyarbakir for they were worried about us reaching IFR safety height (so were we) for our route back to Bahrain.

My main worry was whether the 40 demijohns of Cyprus plonk which were tied up in two neat rows in the freight bay might have caused a flutter in the dovecot at Diyarbakir but they were all delivered intact to the various messes in Bahrain!

27th Sep 2017, 21:17
The attached a video link of an expedition up to the peak of Mount Suphan, Turkey, by some climbers in 2014. At 6 minutes and 10 secs they come across wreckage of the Avro Tudor. Not to sure if this is the impact site as I'm sure we all all aware that wreckage can move with the shifting movement of the snow.

The AvgasDinosaur
3rd Oct 2017, 12:50
There may be some folk who can help OP on this thread.
Hope it helps
Be lucky

3rd Oct 2017, 15:37

Thanks for your PM

6th Oct 2017, 12:20
Spy flights over Soviet territory.

Nothing to do with what I was looking for in 1966, because this happened much earlier. But very interesting all the same:-