85. Telegram From the National Security Agency1

Follow-up two to Critic 2–83.

(SC) A probable Republic of Korea civil aircraft was reflected descending over the Soviet littoral on 31 August 1983.

(SC) The aircraft was reflected at 5557N 16515E at 1617Z heading southwest to a position at 1818Z of 4723N 14245E. The aircraft was identified as a border violator at 1821Z located at 4710N 14235E. The aircraft then continued southwest to a last noted position of 4617N 14115E at 1838Z. Additionally two Soviet Sokol (4716N 14246E) based fighters were probably escorting the aircraft from 1818Z to the aircraft’s last noted position. Also at least three additional fighters were active from Sokol and Sovetskaya Gavan’ Vanino (4902N 14014Z) in defensive patrols in areas bounded by 4617N 14035E to 4830N 14335E between 1821Z to 1941Z.

(SC) The probable civil aircraft was noted descending in altitudes from 100 hectometers to 50 hectometers between 1818Z and 1830Z. The aircraft operated at speeds up to 900 kph. The fighters operated at speeds up to 950 kph and altitudes up to 95 hectometers.

(SC) According to a recently available Soviet tactical fighter communications, at least one Sakhalin Island based fighter performed live missile firing during the mid-1800Z hour of 31 August 1983.

Comments: (SC) Believe this activity may represent hostile action against a South Korean civil airliner which was reportedly lost over the Soviet littoral area. According to a collateral source a United States Congressman possibly was on board the aircraft.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Intelligence Directorate, NSC Records, 1981–1989, Series I: Subject File, Korean Airlines Disaster 09/01/1983: (09/01/1983–09/15/1983); NLR–262–1–17–4–7. Secret; Spoke; Flash. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room.