On4 October 1968the Soviet Union launched a "Mod-4",R-36 / SS-9 SCARP, ICBM with three warheads. This was their initial entry into the world of Multiple Reentry Vehicles (MRVs). Up until that time their ICBMs carried only one warhead. Introduction of a multiple warhead ICBM by the Soviet Union in 1968 started a whole new ball game for everyone.
When the big event occured on that fateful day in October, Rivet Ball's Team-2 was on alert, in place and ready for action.


Rivet Ball and company launched from The Rock and arrived on station in time to record this historic event. It was a night shot that made for outstanding photography. Team-2 returned with a Trophy on that memorable night. Two months later on18 December 1968a second MRV was bagged and added to their Trophy collection. Team-2 was on a roll, flying high and "Second To None".

We were recommended to receive aDistinguished Flying Cross(DFC) for our achievement but received anAir Medalinstead due to theTOP SECRETnature of our mission and need to conceal mission details at the time.


King Hawes / Ed Steffen
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The MRV photo was recorded with Rivet Ball's Ballistic Streak Camera (BSC) and published in Newsweek Magazine in the May 4, 1970 issue on page #45. It was used as a reminder of our ever expanding need for an Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) system. This was one of the first major steps in developing what is now known as "Star Wars".Click Herefor news articles related to the MRV photo taken by Team-2 in 1968.

The drama of an ICBM launch peaked when the missile's booster stage and reentry vehicle (RV) plunged into the atmosphere at hyper-speed from outer space. The booster exploded first and lit up the sky with contrails of fire. That's when the Manual Tracker (MT) shouts "Gaslight - Gaslight - Gaslight" over the intercom.
WhenGaslightis announced all Hell broke loose. That's when the cameras start rolling and the MT aligns the infrared auto tracker on the RV as it emerges from the fire storm like a shooting star. Tracking of the RV continues all the way to final impact.Click Hereand listen to the MT, Capt. Robert L. "Viper" Brown, callGaslightover the intercom when he eyeballs tankage breakup and missile reentry. You'll also hear the tracking cameras go into action when the Signal Monitor (SM) activates the master switch.

Ed Steffen
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Click on the following links (1, 2, 3) for a view from the manual tracker (MT) position as Rivet Ball departs Shemya on runway 28. Photos by Team-2 TC, Capt. Bob Armentrout (Circa 1968-69)

Ed Steffen
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Before, during and after the reentry phase, Ravens one thru four were busy identifying, analyzing and recording all vital electronic emissions related to the event. The Pilots kept the aircraft straight and level, the Navigators kept us on track and the Spooks kept us advised on the status of MIGs while sniffing all the frequencies. It was a coordinated effort by all andit was exciting !

When all was said and done, the United States had a pretty good estimate of the Soviet Union*s ICBM capability and how we as a Nation would counter that threat.

The Cold War got a lot warmer on 4 October 1968 and there was no end in sight. The intelligence collected by Rivet Ball and her crew resulted in our government becoming more than a little concerned that the Soviet Union was on the brink of developing a first strike capability that threatened our ICBM force for the first time. War planners in the Pentagon started burning a lot of midnight oil.

The SS-9 was very accurate and carried a heavy payload. It was known in the West as a "City Buster" and could deliver a 25 megaton nuke right to your doorstep. The replacement for the SS-9 was the SS-18, better known as "SATAN". This baby carried ten warheads designed to knock out our ICBM force. It was a major threat and concern for our government and nation.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a nuclear weapon exploded near your city or town? Click Hereand find out. Warning, the outcome is not good.

Copyright 2000 Kingdon R. Hawes (Webmaster)
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