A special place in the American-Vietnamese war of 1964-1973 is occupied by the aerial operation, codenamed Linebacker-18, carried out from December 30 to 1972, 2. To participate in it were involved 188 strategic B-52 bombers, 48 tactical fighter-bombers F-111A and more than 800 other types of aircraft, that is, the entire group of strategic, tactical and aircraft carrier aviation USA based on this theater of operations. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the operation by the parties to the conflict is diametrically opposite.
The air operation lasted 12 days. During this time, 33 carried out massive strikes: 17 - strategic aviation, 16 - tactical and aircraft carrier, 2814 made sorties, including 594 - strategic bombers (we note right away and will not return to this issue anymore - all of our and all American figures are insignificant diverge). Since the end of the Second World War and to this day, US strategic aviation has never been used as extensively as in December 1972, and therefore the lessons of those fierce and unprecedented bombings will not lose their relevance for a long time. In the United States, the operation “Linebacker-2” is reflected in the pages of dozens of books, monographs and studies. We have probably got only one analytical material, prepared by a group of generals and officers of the General Staff of the Air Defense Forces.
The difference in approaches to the operation is striking from the assessment of the overall military-political situation.
According to the opinion of domestic experts, in early October 1972, the delegation of the DRV and RSU at the talks in Paris with the representatives of the United States and the Saigon regime presented for discussion a draft Agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam. In this project, the DRV and RSU proposed to end the war throughout Vietnam and all US military participation in South Vietnam, completely withdraw US troops and their allies from South Vietnam and return all persons captured and imprisoned. However, the United States allegedly renounced its consent and postponed the initialing period to October 24, and the signing to October 31. By showing goodwill, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam agreed with these changes, but warned the American side that the issue could not drag on indefinitely. However, the United States again demanded a postponement of the signing. These actions of the American side, according to estimates of domestic experts, have threatened the breakdown of the signing of the agreement. In the course of negotiations that lasted from 20 November to 13 in December 1972, the American side in every possible way delayed the signing of the agreement, continuously proposing amendments and clarifications to the texts of the agreement and its protocols. On December 13, the negotiations were interrupted, and the US military-political circles, trying to force the Vietnamese side to force their agreement on signing the agreement, resumed air strikes against the DRV targets. The sharp condemnation of US foreign policy in the countries of Southeast Asia by the Soviet Union and other countries of the socialist camp, their military, economic, diplomatic and political assistance, resilience and courage of the Vietnamese people, which gave a fitting rebuff to the air pirates, forced the US government to 30 December 1972 years to stop the bombing of the DRV north of the 20 parallel. A new phase of negotiations on Vietnam began on January 8, 1973, in Paris. On January 27, it ended with the signing of the Agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam.
This, we emphasize, the judgments and conclusions of the Soviet side (the style is preserved).
A completely opposite approach in assessing the situation is demonstrated by the United States. According to American researchers, the main task of Operation LineBacker-2 was to set the unyielding DRV leadership at the peace table (they had been in Paris since 1968), which North Vietnamese representatives refused to continue. For Washington in December 1972, the situation was frankly grim. The process of "Vietnamization" and the reduction of the US military presence reduced the number of US forces in South Vietnam to 26 thousand people. This was completely insufficient for victory in the war, but it was quite enough for its inglorious completion. Meanwhile, in 1972, the White House was subjected to unprecedented pressure by both the international and its own American public, demanding the speedy conclusion of the conflict. Therefore, in Washington, American experts emphasize, they considered it necessary to inflict losses and destructions on North Vietnam in a fairly short time that would affect the position of official Hanoi. US President Richard Nixon called on the air force to save the situation. And between 18 and 29 December 1972, the DRV was subjected to heavy bombing. Moreover, in the course of this “eleven-day war” (some researchers called it “Linebacker-2”), unlike Operation “Linebacker-1”, which took place shortly before it began, not all of sufficiently extensive territory of North Vietnam was attacked. This time, the main efforts of strategic aviation were supposed to be directed exclusively against the capital region, a kind of military-industrial center of the DRV.
All-weather B-52 was to become the main aircraft for the upcoming operation. This choice of command of the US Air Force for two reasons. Firstly, the monsoon season in Vietnam falls on December, therefore, adverse weather conditions had a great influence on the planning of strikes. Secondly, Stratoforthress was the cornerstone of America’s nuclear triad and was considered particularly valuable. weapons. According to national security adviser Henry Kissinger, this bomber was able to "shake up the imagination and undermine the spirit." In short, B-52 was considered in the White House the most appropriate means to force the DRV leadership to resume negotiations in Paris.
As soon as Hanoi signaled his desire to resume peace negotiations, Operation LineBacker-2 was immediately discontinued. Some officers and generals of the US Armed Forces still consider this a mistake. They are convinced that if the United States continued strikes with the same scope and power, North Vietnam could capitulate and recognize military defeat. Instead, Hanoi secured a political victory at the negotiating table in Paris. Subsequently, it was transformed into a full-scale military conquest of South Vietnam.
Let us pay attention once again to the Soviet assessment: “A sharp condemnation of US foreign policy in the countries of Southeast Asia by the Soviet Union and other countries of the socialist camp, their military, economic, diplomatic and political assistance, resilience and courage of the Vietnamese people, who gave a fitting rebuff to air the pirates were forced by the US government to stop the bombing of the DRV north of the 30 parallel from 1972 in December 20. ” American: "As soon as Hanoi signaled his desire to resume peace negotiations, Operation Linebaker-2 was immediately discontinued."
There is an impression that we are talking about different events and different operations. Moreover, in the texts of some of our political advisers there were such assessments: “On December 18 on 1972, the Americans launched a powerful air offensive operation in order to force the enemy to sign the world on their own terms. From 18 to 30 December, the 81 American plane was destroyed and the raids stopped. Most of the machines shot down anti-aircraft missile systems, and they decided the outcome of the war. The world was signed on the terms of North Vietnam. “Bondarenko signed the world with his missiles,” so said the political riders (for reference: Lieutenant General of Artillery Fedor Mikhailovich Bondarenko, commander of the country's air defense missile defense system in 1968 – 1973 years).
In a word, in our military minds even today there is no clarity even about who sat down at the negotiating table and who. The domestic and American versions diverge by 180 degrees. And this is already a matter of principle - this refers to the general results of the operation “Linebacker-2”.
What is famous for our militaryhistorical works and official military analytics, so this is a complete lack of consistency and logic of presentation. In particular, there is no detailed description of the procedure for conducting the Linebacker-2 operation in domestic sources. There are some episodes, moments, touches, but the whole picture, unfortunately, is missing. Therefore, it makes sense to remind readers how the Linebacker-2 operation took place.
Many of the military in the United States believed that Richard Nixon’s decision lagged behind the real situation by at least seven years, since an operation of such power and magnitude had to start in the 1965 year, when North Vietnam was practically unprotected from air strikes. By December, the 1972-th situation has become qualitatively different - now the path to the DRV objects was blocked by the most powerful air defense system in Southeast Asia, created with the help of the USSR and China. Its capabilities were highly valued at the Pentagon, in particular, some American generals and officers expressed concerns about whether the B-52 strategic bomber — the main striking force of the strategic aviation command of the United States Air Force — could cope with its tasks.
According to American data, the combat composition of the North Vietnamese air defense grouping included 145 fighter-interceptor MiG-21, 26 antiaircraft missile divisions CA-75М (of which 21 in the Hanoi / Haiphong region), numerous units of the barrel anti-aircraft artillery. The firing means used in their work data from an extensive radar reconnaissance system. Sustainable control of air defense forces and weapons was provided by a network of command posts.
Course of operation
As the American researchers emphasize, the US Air Force Operator Officers formed a list of targets on the territory of North Vietnam for which air strikes were to be inflicted, taking into account two circumstances: it was necessary to avoid significant casualties among civilians whenever possible (so as not to cause a new surge of violent protests around the world , including in the United States themselves) and not to bomb the camp of American prisoners of war. In the headquarters, at air bases, warehouses of aviation weapons of destruction and fuel and lubricants of the US armed forces, scattered in the vast spaces of the Pacific theater, recall the participants of the event, work has begun to boil. All objects of the military infrastructure of the Air Force at that time looked like a tattered anthill.
It was planned to carry out raids of "Stratofortress" on the DRV from the Andersen airbases (Pacific island of Guam, there were 99 B-52G and 53 B-52D) and "U-Tapao" (Thailand, 54 B-52D). The departure from Guam took 12 – 14 hours and required refueling in flight. From Thailand to strike facilities in North Vietnam could have been flown in three to four hours.
All B-52D were equipped with the latest modifications of EW equipment. However, EW B-52G funds were inferior in efficiency to B-52D. This difference in the equipment of the bombers had the most fatal effect on the fate of some crews, since the unfinished versions of the B-52G turned out to be most vulnerable to the SA-75M air defense missile system.
When planning an operation, the “Linebacker-2” had to carefully calculate the routes of the B-52 raids, determine the most optimal intervals between the “Stratofortress” and flight altitudes, bomb loads. Thus, when laying the routes, intelligence data on the detected positions of the SA-75М air defense system, the proximity of the Chinese border and the strength of the prevailing winds were taken into account.
The most appropriate for the prevailing conditions of the situation was recognized battle order of the groups (formations). Each included three bombers, separated by 500 feet in height and one mile in range. Such a construction in the air contributed to the effective counteraction of the air defense system of the air defense missile system using the E-B-52. However, this was possible only if the formation retained its integrity, and therefore any commander of the ship who deliberately violated the battle formation was threatened by a military tribunal. The SAK headquarters obliged the pilots not to evade the route, even if the plane could have been fired by anti-aircraft missiles or attacked by interceptor fighters, right up until the bombs dropped. The speed and direction of the rotation of the cars after that were such that the B-52 left the zone of fire of the air defense system as soon as possible.
17 December 1972 of the Year The Headquarters Committee sent the order to the commanders of the US armed forces in the Pacific and to the leadership of the strategic aviation command (as well as to the operational agencies subordinate to them) “You are ordered to start the operation on December 12.00 on 18 December 1972. During the first three days - the maximum efforts of the strategic bombers B-52 and tactical aviation in strikes against targets in the area of Hanoi / Haiphong (a list of targets is attached). The task is maximum destruction of selected military targets near Hanoi / Haiphong. After the first three days, be prepared to continue the operation upon receipt of the appropriate instructions.
In this case, follow the following requirements:
1. To strike at any weather conditions.
2. When operating over the territory of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, use all means available as appropriate without prejudice to the operation. In emergency situations with airplanes use the territory of Laos and Cambodia.
3. If the situation, in order to increase the effectiveness of actions and minimize its own losses, again requires hitting the North Vietnamese airbases and the positions of anti-aircraft missile forces, deliver (if necessary) repeated targets to the planned targets.
4. Minimize civilian casualties. Do not allow strikes against civilian marine vessels of third countries during the bombing of the port of Haiphong. ”
The last point requires special explanation.
Anti-missile and anti-aircraft maneuvers were forbidden for B-52 crews, not only because they led to the destruction of formations of three aircraft and reduced the effectiveness of EW. Such an evolution would lead to errors in bombing, since when planning targets for destruction, it was assumed that the bombs would be dropped at a precisely set height, with a certain location of the aircraft. If the coordinates of the discharge point had changed even slightly, the bombs could have fallen on civilian objects and the houses of civilians.
According to American sources, B-52 was ordered to return to the departure aerodrome without being bombed out if the radar navigators lacked 100% certainty that they were above their intended target. In addition, the crews were required to constantly clarify the flight route, to be absolutely convinced that the planes were moving towards the designated targets, not to maneuver on the combat course in order to avoid defeat of the missile defense and interceptor fighters for about four minutes to the point of bomb dropping. It was during this time interval that the probability of the death of bombers increased to the maximum.
Such restrictions, determined by military and political installations for the operation, led to the fact that 1318 civilians were killed during the December air strikes in Hanoi, and 306 in Haiphong. Undoubtedly, the statistics is still tragic. However, it must be remembered that the Americans dropped 20 thousand tons of aerial bombs on these cities. Whereas, for nine days, less than 1944 thousands of tons of bombs fell on Hamburg in 10 year, which destroyed the lives of 30 thousands of Germans. That is why the Pentagon still considers the allegations of “indiscriminate bombing” of 1972 in December unfounded.
First two days
18 December 1972 of the year was the first day of the operation "Linebaker-2". Around local time at 14.40, the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam Island began to fly into the air with B-52. The launch of the 87 bombers, taking off in three waves, lasted for almost two hours. Stratofortress was accompanied by KC-135 refueling aircraft, and later F-4 and F-105 fighter-bombers attached to them (they were intended to attack ZRK positions at the Wild Weasel program), EB-66 jammers, and editors passive jamming F-4, airplanes and helicopters of search and rescue teams.
Later, the 42 B-52 bomber from the Thai U-Tapao airfield joined the Guam "armada". Never before, since the Second World War, the American experts emphasize, an air squadron of similar strength did not go against the US enemy.
The objectives of B-52 on the first day were the Kep, Hoa Lac and Fuk Kinh airbases, the Kienh Ho car repair plant, the Yen Vien railway station, the Hanoi railway repair station and the main radio station. Nine other targets were destined for F-111 fighter-bombers.
In North Vietnam, they knew about the upcoming American strikes and expected them. However, according to US researchers, the initial shock of the scale of 18 bombing on December 1972 turned out to be very strong for the enemy. True, despite this, on the very first day of the operation, the effective use of the SA-75M air defense system was recorded.
Vietnamese air defense missile attackers hit the Stratoforthress mainly on a post-target reversal. The reason for this was the following factors. At the turning point, a formation of three B-52 possessed the greatest radar visibility for the CHR-75 missile guidance station. It was here that the effectiveness of the EW B-52 equipment on the air defense radar decreased. In addition, the tailwind at the speed of 180 kilometers per hour changed to a headwind, and this significantly impeded the flight of the aircraft with such geometrical dimensions as that of the “Stressoforthress”.
On the first day of the operation, the “Linebacker-2”, according to the estimates of the American crews, the anti-aircraft missile defense system VNA launched more than 200 B-750 missiles. At some points, pilots said, the night sky over Hanoi was literally riddled with tracks from more than 40 simultaneously flying missiles. On this night, the US Air Force lost three B-52 strategic bomber: two from the Andersen airbase and one from U-Tapao. Yet 94 percent bombs, according to US experts, managed to drop on the planned targets.
The loss of three cars made a heavy impression on the command and crews of the B-52, although the damage was less than expected. He has not yet been considered unacceptably tall. Looking ahead, it should be said that during all the eleven days of Operation Lynbecker-2, according to American researchers, the pilots of strategic bombers "supported the glorious military traditions of the US Air Force — never refuse to perform a combat task, regardless it was not strong. ” It was noted that during the 18 raid in December, Sergeant Samuel Turner, the tail gunner on B-52 "Brown 03", shot down the North Vietnamese MIH-21 - for the first time in the combat biography of "Stratofortress".
On the second day of the operation, the tactics did not actually change. This is not surprising: when after the completion of the combat mission, the last bombers that started from Andersen airbase on December 18 afternoon, after the 12 – 14 flight hours only landed on Guam, in accordance with the flight schedule of the second day, the operations took off and headed towards the strike targets other B-52. This circumstance prevented a full compilation of the experience of the first bombardments and a detailed analysis, bringing to the crew the existing shortcomings and mistakes.
Nevertheless, although the routes remained the same, the flight altitude of the formation of the three bombers dropped to 34,5 – 35 thousands of feet. This was done in order to more reliably “cover” the B-52 within the passive jamming corridors that were previously deployed by F-4 Phantom II aircraft. The time distribution between formations of three aircraft and the so-called time over target (Time over target) was increased to four minutes. The crews of Stratoforress were allowed to make evasion of missiles and interceptors both on the approach to the targets and after dropping bombs.
During the second night of the 93 operation, the B-52 bombers that took part in the strike launched (according to American pilots) approximately 180 B-750 missiles, but this time the strategic aviation avoided losses. But it was difficult to say whether this was a consequence of the corrective amendments made to the actions of Strathoforress or the North Vietnamese people were truly shaken by the strength and scope of the first raid.
The third day of the operation turned out to be a real tragedy for the USAF. Formations B-52, approaching Hanoi, were timely detected by the air defense missile defense submarine VNA and MiG-21 pilots. The latter informed ground posts about the peculiarities of the battle formation of “Stress-Fortress”, their height and speed. The combat operation of the SA-75M and anti-aircraft artillery, according to US experts, brought the United States strategic aviation with the worst results: six B-52, each costing eight million dollars (in 1972 prices of the year), were destroyed.
The blame for this largely falls on the American command. Waves of the bombers stretched for 113 kilometers in length and received the nickname “Elephant Walk” from the pilots. Such lines of combat vehicles were slow, predictable and represented a relatively easy target. Pre-set "corridors" of passive jamming showed where the "Stress Fortress" will subsequently fly by. This was, according to pilots of the US Air Force, like a yellow brick road created for combat crews SA-75M.
Strikes and counterstrikes
The 90 of the X-NUMX scheduled B-99 sorties turned out to be 52 December 20, but two B-1972G and one B-52D were lost in the first wave and as many were affected by the missile defense in the third. Three Vietnamese vehicles hit before dropping bombs and three later. Four B-52 fell near Hanoi, two - outside North Vietnam. None of the lost B-52Gs were equipped with EW AN / ALT-52ECM equipment.
“The most powerful air defense system in Southeast Asia, not yet having suffered losses, could not prevent damage to the defended objects”
Of the nine B-52 operations that were shot down during the first three days, five bombers were hit after completing the combat mission at the moment of their turnout from the target. Of the six B-52Gs destroyed by the North Vietnamese air defense, only one had a new EW equipment.
In other words, the damage amounted to seven percent of the total number of machines involved in the “Linebacker-2”, which, in accordance with existing regulations, was considered by the strategic aviation command of the US Air Force as an unacceptably high number. In this situation, the commander-in-chief of the SAC, General John C. Meyer, takes more effective measures to fire the suppression of the firing and technical positions of the anti-aircraft missile defense system VNA. The CA-75 anti-aircraft missile divisions were a major threat to the Flying Fortresses, and therefore, Meier’s decision, according to American researchers, was correct: Vietnamese air defense suffered sensitive losses, and the Zour expenditure increased without significantly increasing the effectiveness of shooting.
In addition, they again made adjustments to the tactics of combat use of bombers. The time intervals between three B-52 formations were shortened and the time they spent above targets decreased (to 90 and 120 seconds, respectively). The height intervals between the B-52 triples increased, the routes of their departure from the impact objects changed. Some groups of Strathoforces were allowed to go directly to the Gulf of Tonkin. EW-Air Force officers were instructed to retrofit ALT-28ESM equipment with bombers, which significantly complicated the detection and sustained tracking of enemy vehicles for SNR-75.
On the fourth day of the “Linebacker-2” operation, only 30 strategic bombers took part in the strike, and only modifications of B-52D and only from the U-Tapao airbase (Thailand). They were accompanied by 75 tactical aircraft. This time, during the raid on the air base of the air force VNA “Bac Mai”, the SA-75M air defense system was shot down by only two Stratoforthress.
Over the next three days of the Operation “Linebacker-2” (5, 6 and 7), the USAF did not lose a single B-52. These strikes usually involved 30 bombers. They raided sites outside the Hanoi / Haiphong metropolitan area to disorient the North Vietnamese air defense calculations.
24 December, on the seventh day of the air campaign, Albert Moore, air gunner, on B-52 "Ruby 03" shot down the North Vietnamese fighter-interceptor MiG-21.
25 December 1972 was a one-day break due to Christmas bombing. Crews of the B-52 received some rest, and in the headquarters of strategic aviation, planning further strikes, sought to more fully take into account the mistakes made earlier.
From a political point of view, the daily break of December 25 is regarded by researchers in the US as a kind of signal to Hanoi - to think again and sit down at the negotiating table. However, according to US intelligence, in North Vietnam, this delay was interpreted as a sign of the enemy’s weakness and tried to use the break provided to restore damaged equipment and to replenish missile stocks at launch points.
After Christmas, the bombing resumed. Now the main objects of the B-52 are the airfields of the VNA Air Force, the firing and technical positions of the SA-75М SAM. Knock-down of air defense contributed to the reduction of losses. December 26 was the day when a new tactic was applied in practice. Crews could now make anti-missile maneuvers with the exception of the section of the route on which the aiming and dropping of bombs were carried out. Sharp posttarget turns were replaced by smooth, less angular. And what is especially important is that instead of the “elephant walks” mentioned above, the crews were given the opportunity to more flexibly change the routes to the objects of impact. Corridors of dipole reflectors turned into clouds - passive interference was dumped in areas where the targets were found in large volumes, which made the work of the CA-75М air defense system operators extremely difficult.
On the night of 26 in December, 78 “Stratoforthress” attacked Hanoi simultaneously from four different directions, and 42 attacked Haiphong, the sea gate of Vietnam, from where military supplies from the Soviet Union and China entered the DRV.
The impact force of the strategic bombers was complemented by the actions of 114 tactical aircraft. The US Universal Air Force F-4 Phantom II was used to intercept MiG-21 and passive interference, which effectively protected the B-52 from detection and tracking of CHP-75. In addition, "Phantoms" and F-105 "Thunderchief" (within the framework of the already mentioned program "Wild Weasel") carried out fire suppression of the positions of the air defense missile system VRV.
According to American experts, the use of already aging EB-66 airplanes outside the defeat zones of the SA-75-SAM system helped to effectively suppress the air defense missile system of North Vietnam. F-111 fighter-bombers and A-7 attack aircraft continually attacked North Vietnam air bases. The KC-135 tankers supplied all types of aircraft with fuel, often moving to the combat area.
It is necessary to pay special attention to the fact that the “Linebacker-2” operation was accompanied by active actions of the C-130 aircraft and the HH-53 helicopters to search and rescue the pilots of the downed vehicles. The operation of this complex mechanism was coordinated by the EU-121 air command centers. Nevertheless, on the eighth day of the operation, the Vietnamese SA-75M air defense system "flooded" two more strategic bombers B-52.
But on 9, 10 and 11, the day the US Air Force operations were already fully dominant in the sky of North Vietnam. In each of the last three nights of the “Linebacker-2”, 60 “Stratofortress” took part in the blows. True, December 27 in the North Vietnamese sky were hit by two strategic bomber. One B-52 fell on the territory of the DRV, the second reached Thailand, where the crew left the car with parachutes.
On the final day of the campaign, December 29, strategic bombers and tactical aircraft, according to American researchers of Operation Linebacker-2, were "at the peak of their form." The combat capabilities of the forces and equipment of the air defense of North Vietnam are estimated on this day quite low.
The pilots of the TA bombers and aircraft recorded only 23 single hasty launch of anti-aircraft missiles, which, of course, could not be compared with the “fireworks” of the first days of the air offensive. The American planes (pilots estimate) that day were outside the defeat zones of the SA-75М, the MiG-21 air force VNA for the most part had already been shot down, the RTV positions and lines of communication were destroyed. Nothing prevented, the American experts are convinced that the United States aviation should perform combat missions, but under the curtain of the “Linebacker-2”, it faced a problem that was very uncharacteristic of an armed confrontation - the lack of suitable targets.
According to American sources, December 1972 of the year showed that the B-52 strategic bombers, in cooperation with tactical aircraft, are an effective force that can influence the outcome of the entire campaign. Researchers in the United States operation “Linebacker-2” clearly interpreted as a military victory: after all, North Vietnam returned to the negotiating table in Paris, where 27 signed peace agreements on January 1973. Over the next 60 days, the 591 American POW was released and returned to the United States.
During the air operation, B-52 carried out 729 combat missions (from the planned 741) and dropped thousands of tons of bombs on the objects of North Vietnam 15. According to American estimates, the anti-aircraft missile defense missile systems of VNA launched approximately 1240 anti-aircraft missiles. The US Air Force lost 15 "Stratoforress" (less than 2% of combat strength). From 92, crews of downed 25 strategic bombers were found and selected by the search and rescue service, 26 returned to their homeland after the end of hostilities, the rest died or were missing.
According to a number of American commanders, start bombing such power in 1965, the United States would not have known the Vietnamese shame. However, not all experts agree with this statement in America. Some of them believe that if the bombardment had already taken place since the 1965, the scale of the operation “Linebacker-2”, the position of the USSR and China in this case would be frankly unpredictable. It is possible that the US-Vietnamese war could escalate into a nuclear conflict between superpowers.
The Soviet military experts on the results of the operation "Linebacker-2" made the following conclusions.
1. Fighting US aircraft in December 1972, the year was carried out with extremely decisive goals - to break the morale of the Vietnamese people and force the DRV government to sign an agreement to end the war on favorable terms for the United States.
2. One of the characteristic features of the air operation was that when attacking vital objects of the DRV, fire suppression of the positions of the ZRV, RTV and airdromes of the air defense and air forces of the VNA was also planned at the unprecedented scale, radio electronic suppression of the ZRV, RTV and communications.
3. Tactical and carrier-based aviation was used both for independent strikes and for support of strategic aviation operations (up to 45% of forces). It operated both massively and in small groups: tactical mainly during the day and throughout the entire territory of the DRV, aircraft carrier mainly at night in coastal areas.
4. The air defense and air forces of the VNA, despite the dominance of American aviation in the air, the use of modern aircraft and electronic warfare by it, together with the air defense forces of the national militia, forced the United States to abandon the continuation of the air operation. Her goals were not achieved.
5. The combat operations of the Air Defense Forces and the Air Forces of the VNA with US aircraft showed that the organization of air defense, command and control of troops, their combat readiness, and operational and combat training, adopted in Vietnam on the recommendations of Soviet military experts, justified themselves. The air defense of the DRV had a powerful resistance to US aggression. In many ways, this was predetermined by the fact that the fully modern anti-aircraft defense created in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems, fighter aircraft and Soviet-made electronic equipment, and its personnel was trained by Soviet military experts. The anti-aircraft missile, airborne and radar equipment for the Air Defense Forces and the Air Force VNA, supplied from the USSR, showed high combat qualities and operational reliability in the fight against modern aircraft and the use by the enemy of all air defense suppression means. The command of the Air Defense Forces and the Air Force of the VNA and the personnel highly appreciate the fighting qualities of Soviet equipment.
6. The main role in disrupting the strikes of American aviation was played by the VNA anti-aircraft missile forces.
7. The principles of organizing the cover of the most important administrative-political and industrial centers, education and training of anti-aircraft missile units and subunits adopted by the Air Defense Forces and the Air Forces of the VNA have proved their viability and rather high efficiency. The requirements for the location of anti-aircraft missile battalions at intervals ensuring their mutual cover in a single fire system were also confirmed. At the same time, the combat capabilities of the anti-aircraft missile forces in the December battles were not fully utilized due to shortcomings in combat control, poor missile support, and insufficient preparedness of combat crews of some units and subunits of the ZRV. Recommendations of the Rules for Shooting ZRV were not always respected.
8. At the heart of the combat use of the IA VNA clearly demonstrated the provisions of the military doctrine of the people's war - to win with small forces. Based on this principle, the command of the air defense and air forces of the VNA did not take effective measures to fully utilize the combat capabilities of the AA and use it with decisive goals. As a result, the Americans managed to relatively easily disable the main airfields based on the IA and reduce the quantitative composition of support groups. In spite of the fact that the actions of the VNA fighter aviation were limited, they contributed to the fulfillment of the tasks assigned to the air defense forces and the VNA air force.
9. In the December battles with American aircraft, pilots took part mainly in MiG-21 fighters. Air battles showed the high combat qualities of the MiG-21 aircraft, its ability to successfully fight with modern means of air attack.
10. RTV, equipped with radar weapons mainly Soviet-made, ensured the performance of combat missions by air defense forces and air forces VNA. We confirmed the correctness of our views on the integrated use of radars of various frequency ranges in the composition of battalions and RTV companies, which, in general, ensured the stability of the radar system when the enemy used strong combined interference. At the same time, combat experience has shown that the P-12 and P-35 radars have poor noise immunity, and their use in the conditions of strong combined interference is ineffective.
11. In the conditions of modern warfare, when the administration, the positions of ZRV and RTV, as well as airfields are subjected to massive strikes by enemy aircraft, measures to ensure high survivability of the troops take on special significance. The expediency of the distribution of aviation, the construction of reinforced concrete shelters for aircraft, engineering equipment in the main positions of anti-aircraft missile divisions and radar units, masking the creation of a system of spare and false positions, the organization of anti-aircraft and ground defense command posts, positions, airfields was confirmed.
12. The experience of combat actions showed that in order to restore equipment damaged in battle, it is necessary to create in the army a stock of the most vulnerable elements of anti-aircraft missile systems, radar stations and aircraft equipment. At the airfields, it is necessary to have a supply of building materials and teams to rebuild destroyed airfields.
13. Stocks of missiles, ammunition, fuel and other means of logistics at the launch sites of divisions and airfields should be created in sufficient quantities, taking into account the expected intensity of hostilities.
14. The recommendations of the Soviet military specialists in the combat work of the anti-aircraft missile defense and anti-tank warfare in the conditions of the use of strong combined interference and Shrike anti-radar missiles by the enemy fully justified themselves.
Let's sum up. Conclusion number 4 seems to be exactly the case when the desired result is clearly given for achievement. And in all other provisions of the report of the Soviet military specialists, orchestral copper is heard and punches to the chest are all good, and sometimes even fine, the weapons and military equipment have fully justified themselves, only high combat qualities are demonstrated, the enemy, if not in knockout, so in a knockout for sure.
But the correctness of such assessments prevents only one fact. It is believed that by December 1972, the road to the DRV facilities was blocked by the most powerful air defense system in Southeast Asia, created with the help of the USSR and China. However, on the very first day of the operation, “Linebacker-2” from 129 B-52 bombers, precisely on the designated targets, 127 machines were bombed out. Two bomber did not complete the job only because of navigation errors. That is, the most powerful air defense system in Southeast Asia (not yet suffering losses) could not prevent damage to the defended objects. There is clearly something to think about. And this, we emphasize, on the first day of the operation.
One of the conclusions of the Soviet military experts says: "Radar P-12 and P-35 have a low noise immunity, and their use in conditions of strong combined interference is ineffective." The Russian language is great and powerful - the same can be stated in a different way: “The P-12 radar has long been in the museum of radar weapons and military equipment, and the P-35 radar is suitable for radar flight support of aviation exclusively in peacetime.”
Unfortunately, nothing our experts in their findings did not say about the compliance of the performance characteristics of the SA-75М with the requirements of the time. Unfortunately, by December 1972, the complex created on the ideas of the end of 40 - the beginning of 50 - was already outdated (both morally and physically) and did not constitute a formidable fighting force. It was possible to achieve success in anti-aircraft combat with his participation only thanks to the skill of combat crews, and not to the high performance characteristics of the anti-aircraft missile system. The air defense system and numerous “poultices” helped a little - repeated refinements on one list or another.
But in general, it is very difficult to get rid of the impression that the emerging trends in this field of warfare were not our specialists in December 1972, which were fully understood and duly evaluated. Otherwise, how can we justify our subsequent air defense setbacks: the defeat of air defense weapons in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in 1982 (Operation “World of Galilee”), a major defeat in 1986 in Libya (Operation “Fire in the Prairie”), a real pogrom of Air Defense of Saddam Hussein in 1991 (Operation Desert Storm) and the next defeat of Iraq’s air defenses and air forces in 1998 (Operation Desert Fox)?
In general, this topic is not closed and is still waiting for its objective researchers.