A stand-down order would normally follow a crash or shootdown of a 35th Sq. U-2. After the deadly crash of Billy Chang’s (張燮) U-2 on January 5, 1969, Detachment H halted its reconnaissance operations for three months, in the mean time converting to the more advanced U-2R. Since then, stand-down orders from Washington were increasingly for political reasons…
The above document revealed that the 35th Sq. had to ground its missions in late October but it did not say why. Before that, Johnny Shen (沈宗李) had flown an operational mission on October 16. During the course, he encountered a Chinese MiG-21 zooming up to intercept him, though to no avail. Was the temporary stand-down a precautionary measure?
The 35th Sq. resumed the reconnaissance operation on November 26. Although all the missions at the time were routed 20 NM off the Chinese mainland, Tom Wang (王濤) was shot at by no less than three Surface-to-Air Missiles on his December 1 mission. In the wake of the incident, the 303 Committee requested that all missions be routed 20 NM away from the Chinese mainland
Because the new restriction would cause severe degradation in image quality, CIA protested and the 303 Committee did not insist.
Although the new restriction was not imposed, the 35th Sq. did not fly any operational mission until February 1970. The January 9 document below explains why: United States and China were to have a meeting in Warsaw on January 20. The politicians did not want CIA to spoil the party.
(To be continued)