Asia. Meanwhile the Chinese were getting busy, they were developing intermediate and long range missiles and were getting ready to test those at Xinjiang. At the same time, U2’s were being lost. This was when the CIA decided to launch an eavesdropping operation with Indian support to monitor its missile launches (and tap their telemetry transmissions while in flight) from a land based station, high up in the mountains overlooking China. And so, Operation Hat was charted out. The mission plan was for mountaineers to scale the tall Kanchenjunga Mountain and install a signal receiver and re-transmitter, powered by a nuclear electrical generator, at the summit. While there were some ferret satellites up in space already, their passes over China were too few to pick up a launch. What happened next is detailed in the books referenced as well as the numerous news and magazine reports, but I will cover it rapidly, for completeness.
|M S Kohli|
- The U2 was notoriously difficult to fly at lower altitudes and difficult to land. Because of the U-2's tendency to drift while landing, the US Air Force used high-speed chase cars like Ford Mustangs and Pontiac GTOs speeding down the tarmac and looking at the planes tilt and under-carriage, to guide the U-2 pilot down.
- Data collection is the primary purpose of the U.S. Rhyolite series of satellites (also termed Aquacade) orbiting at 22,000 miles above. The telemetry stream from a launch is intended to show the missile's designers exactly how the new machine is performing and, if it fails, what components caused the failure. This information once decoded, also reveals the detailed mechanics of the missile such as fuel consumption, acceleration, guidance, and the like.
- There is more to what meets the eye and one part which is not covered in books or other published accounts came up in comments (In his book Kohli mentions hearing about Pakistani paratroopers in Roorkee before they set out, but not this! There is also a mention of sighting of an armed spy with Mongolian features at the ND sanctuary, but that was not taken seriously) by Kohli in a recent interview to the Hindu – He said “Pakistanis parachuted down on Nanda Devi to check on us and some of them were caught too…. India and Pakistan were war-drawn then…India was planning to occupy Lahore on September 7 that year. The whole thing was foiled after the Pakistani Army got a whiff of it.” Well, well!