174. Memorandum to Holders of NIE 11–8–661



This Memorandum to Holders is prompted by a recent review of Soviet submarine order–of–battle which requires us to change the judgments made in NIE 11–8–66, “Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Attack,” dated 20 October 1966, Top Secret, Restricted Data, Limited Distribution, on the size and composition of the Soviet missile submarine force.


In NIE 11–8–66, we estimated that as of 1 October 1966 the Soviet missile submarine force had some 45 ballistic missile submarines (8–10 nuclear–powered) with a total of about 130 launchers, and an equal number of cruise missile units (21–23 nuclear–powered) with about 250 launchers.
A recent review of Soviet submarine order–of–battle indicates that as of 1 October 1966 there were 36 ballistic missile submarines in the Soviet Navy (7 of them nuclear–powered) with a total of about 100 launchers. The cruise missile submarine force—whose primary mission is to counter naval task forces—was found to have a slightly greater number of units than previously estimated, and a greater proportion of nuclear–powered units. Since the latter are equipped with more missile launchers than the diesel–powered boats, approximately 265 launchers (rather than 250) were found to be in the cruise missile submarine force.
We continue to believe that a new type of ballistic missile submarine will enter service by mid–1968. Since fewer ballistic missile submarines are now operational than previously estimated, however, our projection of the number of such units which will be operational in 1976 has been reduced from some 60–70 to about 55–65. There is no change in our estimate of the total number of cruise missile submarines for 1976 (i.e., 55–65 units) but we believe the proportion of nuclear submarines in the cruise missile force will be somewhat higher at that time (i.e., about 45 out of 60, rather than 40 or so out of 60).
A new table listing the estimated Soviet missile submarine strength for 1966 through 1968 follows. The new table supersedes that in Section IV of NIE 11–8–66.

Estimated Soviet Missile Submarine Strength, 1966–1968

1 Oct 1966 Mid–1967 Mid–1968
Ballistic Missile Submarines
H–I (3 tubes) 3 2–1 1–0
H–II (3 tubes) 4 5–6 6–7
New class (8 or more tubes) 0 0 1
Subtotal 7 7 8
Z–Conversion (2 tubes) 6 6 6
G–I (3 tubes) 22 22 22–20
G–II (2 tubes) 1 1 1–3
Subtotal 29 29 29
Total Ballistic Missile Submarines 36 36 37
Cruise Missile Submarines
E–I (6 tubes) 5 5 5
E–II (8 tubes) 20–21 24–25 28–29
Subtotal 25–26 29–30 33–34
W–Conversion (1 to 4 tubes) 13 13 13
J–Class (4 tubes) 7–10 9–12 11–15
Subtotal 20–23 22–25 24–28
Total Cruise Missile Submarines 45–49 51–55 57–62

5. In addition, the final sentence of the last paragraph of Section VII A of NIE 11–8–66 should be deleted and replaced by the following:

In any case, we believe we could identify a MOBS sometime during its test program which would probably extend over a year or two. If the Soviets follow established test procedures, identification is likely to occur about a year prior to attainment of an accurate, reliable system.

(Note: paragraphs 1–4 approved by USIB—13 March 1967; Paragraph 5 approved by USIB—2 March 1967)

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 263. Top Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a prefatory note on the inside of the cover sheet, this memorandum was distributed to the White House, National Security Council, Department of State, Department of Defense, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The summary and conclusions of NIE 11–8–66 are printed as Document 143.