114. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

    • Number of Soviet and U.S. Missile Tests

You asked for information about the number of Soviet and U.S. missile tests in 1969.

In 1969, the U.S. conducted 104 tests of operational missiles; the Soviets, 108.

  • —This was a slight decrease for the Soviets from their 1968 level of 119, and a substantial increase for the U.S., which ran 78 missile flights in 1968.
  • The major reason for the decrease in Soviet tests was a sharp decline in troop training firings of their older SS–7 and SS–8 ICBMs.
  • The U.S. increased testing is accounted for equally by an increase in firings of operational missiles for training and confidence, and an increase in R&D flights.
  • —80 of the Soviet tests, as against 57 of the U.S., were of land-based ICBMs.
  • —Almost half the U.S. flights (47 of 104) were of submarine missiles. Reflecting their fewer operational ballistic missile subs, they ran only 28 SLBM tests.
  • —Both countries made substantial increases in the number of tests associated with research and development rather than training and confidence testing of operational systems:
    • —The Soviets made 21 R&D flights, compared with 13 the year before.
    • —40 of the U.S. flights were R&D-associated, compared with 25 the year before.
    • —Most of the U.S. R&D flights were connected with the well-advanced Minuteman III and Poseidon programs; the Soviet R&D flights include two wholly new missiles.

The tables2 show the figures in more detail.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 710, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. VI. Secret. Sent for information. Although no drafting information appears on the memorandum, Lynn sent it to Kissinger under a December 24 covering memorandum. Nixon wrote the following comments in the margins: “This doesn’t make my point—what about tests of new weapons? How many new weapons have they developed in 5 years compared with us? 2) K[issinger]—also, I want a study made of the point I discussed with you re. How Soviet gets so much more for their 70 billion a year than we do.”
  2. Attached but not printed is a table, entitled “Soviet and U.S. Missile Flights,” showing comparative figures in four categories—ICBMs, SLBMs, operational, and R&D—for 1968 and 1969.