The Viet Cong (VC) and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) always knew when the B-52’s were coming.
We had to find out how.
Those who served in South Vietnam know that Strategic Force B-52 bombers were used intensively within South Vietnam in support of Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) tactical objectives. The iron bomb strikes were used both on pre-planned missions and on targets of opportunity and were collectively named Arc Light missions. The bombers flew from bases both on Guam and Okinawa and each B-52 was capable of carrying 110 bombs of the 750 pound category.
The missions were invariably flown at altitudes above 30,000 feet where the planes were virtually unseen from the ground and inaudible to the naked ear. A network of ground control radar installations using a technique that was named Sky Spot was capable of bringing US air power to bear anywhere in South Vietnam with a very high degree of accuracy. A single B-52 put down a carpet of bombs approximately 600 meters wide by 1000 meters in length literally obliterating everything on the ground within that area.
It was also widely known that many Arc Light missions were compromised in some fashion – the troop concentrations, their primary objectives, were simply gone from the target areas by the time the bombs were dropped and detonated.
Almost invariably, Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) ground-reconnaissance missions were inserted into the target areas to determine success or failure of Arc Light missions and almost invariably they found few if any casualties in the target areas throughout the entire war.
What Really Happened:
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