Photo: Richard Nixon Library via National Archives
Air Force One carrying President Nixon arrived in Peking (now Beijing) on February 21, 1972. Prior to Nixon’s China trip, the 35th Sq. flew a coastal mission on January 17 and then stood down the reconnaissance operations. But they did not resume operations immediately after Nixon left China. As of March 22, whether Project TACKLE would continue was still up in the air:
Finally the mission alert came and Tom Wang (王濤) flew Mission C062C on April 4, after a hiatus of almost three months. In the remainder of 1972, the 35th Sq. carried out missions as frequently as usual. But most of these missions were not to collect IMINT but were LONG SHAFT missions, designed to collect microwave COMINT.
In the beginning of 1973, the stand-down order came again. Kissinger visited Beijing in February as part of an 11-day trip to East Asia that included stops at Bangkok, Vientiane, Hanoi, and Tokyo. Detachment H stood down its operations accordingly:
This stand-down did not last not very long. Mike Chiu (邱松州) flew a mission on February 24. Then, in October, NRO talked about a stand-down of Detachment H operations in this memo, in anticipation of Kissinger’s upcoming trip to China (again):
This trip was later re-scheduled. Kissinger visited China from November 10 to 14 to provide reassurance about the prospect for improved US–PRC relations. As we shall see, this trip proved to be very crucial for the future of the 35th Sq.
(To be continued)