Britain and the Missile Gap: British Estimates on the Soviet Ballistic Missile Threat, 1957-1961

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6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Between 1957 and 1961, American National Intelligence Estimates overestimated the Soviets’ capabilities to produce and deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles, creating the ‘missile gap’ controversy. This article examines the contemporaneous estimates of British intelligence on the Soviet ballistic missile program, which were based upon very similar, if not the same, raw intelligence. It demonstrates that British estimates of the Soviet ICBM program were more accurate. However, this success did not continue in the analysis of the medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missile (M/IRBM) threat, which was relatively poor for most of the period. It concludes that the reasons for this lie in the different assumptions held by intelligence analysts on both sides of the Atlantic, and a degree of conservatism in both intelligence establishments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-806
Number of pages30
JournalIntelligence and National Security
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

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