Editor's Note: In out threat section we hope to capture the intensity of the threat faced by the Wild Weasels. Each war is different and each threat is unique and one thing that holds true today is that the Weasels of Vietnam, Desert Storm and tomorrow were dedicated to making their systems, tactics and capabilities better after each conflict. These improvements saved lives and destroyed our enemies!
Vietnam, with tremendous help from the Soviet Union and China, set out and succeeded in building the world’s strongest integrated air defense at the time. The Soviets also sent more than 8,000 initial military advisers and technicians, who wore Vietnamese uniforms to hide their nationality. At the same time hundreds of Vietnamese were placed in Soviet military training schools. Additionally, Moscow shipped radars, anti-aircraft artillery and coastal defense equipment to Hanoi. Not to be outdone by its rival, Beijing accelerated the training program for the 30 North Vietnamese pilots who were being trained on Soviet-donated MiG-17s at China’s Son Dong Airfield since early 1963 (later Mig 19s and Mig 21s would be added to the inventory). China also donated training aircraft to Hanoi and initiated a training program for about another 200 pilots. One of several American intelligence estimates in early 1965 indicated that North Vietnam possessed 1,039 antiaircraft guns: 322 14.5-mm and 37-mm, 709 57-mm, and eight 85-mm. There were an estimated 298 antiaircraft sites, of which 161 were considered active. The sites were located mainly around the Hanoi-Haiphong area and along important rail lines, roads, and bridges north and south of the two cities. US Air Force concern about the north’s antiaircraft defenses was pervasive.
Some 15,000 Soviet personnel served in Indo-China as advisers and occasionally as combatants. The largest part of the Soviet adviser personnel were air defense officers. The Soviets provided the V-75 (SA-2 GUIDELINE) missile system as the primary air defense system. They supplemented this with anti-aircraft guns and possibly some S-125 ‘Neva’(SA-3 GOA) missiles. Short-range air defense weapons included the Strela 2 (SA-7 GRAIL) shoulder-fired missiles.
SA-2 SAM deployments began in the Hanoi area, extending by the end of the year to Haiphong, the LOC area south of Thanh Hoa, and elsewhere. More than 60 sites were known by the end of the year. By the end of 1966, there were about 150 SAM sites in North Vietnam. Radar sites had grown to over 100, a mixture of early warning, ground-control intercept, AA fire control, and SAM-associated. Another 100 sites were discovered by the end of 1967, and the force organized into 25 SAM battalions. By April 1968, the North Vietnamese had 8000 AA weapons (the majority light AA or automatic weapons, but including 100mm AA guns) (The first of the 100mm AA guns were introduced in Jul 1965). There were more than 350 radars and almost 300 SAM sites.
Vietnam Air Defense Links