Today in History – April 27, 1953 – Operation Moolah begins, USAF tries to get MiG-15 from a defecting Soviet pilot for $100,000

27 April 1953 – “Operation Moolah was a United States Air Force (USAF) effort during the Korean War to obtain through defection a fully capable Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter. Communist forces introduced the MiG-15 to Korea on November 1, 1950. USAF pilots reported that the performance of the MiG-15 was superior to all United Nations (U.N.) aircraft, including the USAF’s newest plane, the F-86 Sabre.

The operation focused on influencing Communist pilots to defect to South Korea with a MiG for a financial reward… Speculation exists about the origin of Operation Moolah. According to then-Captain Alan Abner, the idea of the operation originated from his office at the Army’s Psychological Warfare Branch, in Washington DC. According to intelligence reports they received, dissatisfaction within the Soviet Air Force, even to the extent of some desertions by disgruntled pilots, led to the belief that possible future defections by some pilots were promising.

Their plan set forth an offer of $100,000… for a Soviet MiG-15 and political asylum for the pilot. The plan was marked Top Secret and requested the offer be passed by rumor through ranks of Communist forces to ensure the offer would not be attributable to the U.S. The plan was delivered to The Pentagon on a Monday, and by that Saturday, details of their plan were published in The Washington Post with the title, “Gen. Mark Clark Offers $100,000 Reward for Russian Jet”. Abner was disappointed because the article did not mention that his organization conceived the plan.

The second version of this story originates from General Mark W. Clark. According to him, the origin of Operation Moolah was from a war correspondent closely associated with the general but was not identified in Clark’s book, From the Danube to the Yalu. The war correspondent developed the idea of the metaphor “silver bullet” and its effect on the Chinese in early 1952. He then developed and wrote a fictitious interview between an “anonymous” and a nonexistent Air Force general suggesting the MiG reward. The Far East Air Force (FEAF) headquartered in Tokyo was given the fictitious interview and thought the idea was worth looking into and passed it onward to the Department of the Air Force in Washington, DC. The idea circulated the Pentagon and the Department of State until it was transmitted back to Clark from the Department of the Army through a message he received in November 1952.

According to Herbert Friedman, the unidentified war correspondent was Edward Hymoff, the Bureau Chief of the International News Service and former World War II OSS veteran, whom he interviewed. Another source attributes the idea to Major Donald Nichols, commanding officer of the 6004th Air Intelligence Service Squadron.

MiG-15 delivered by No Kum-Sok

The success of the operation is disputable since no Communist pilot defected before the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. However, on September 21, 1953, North Korean pilot Lieutenant No Kum-Sok flew his MiG-15 to the Kimpo Air Base, South Korea, unaware of Operation Moolah.”

Source: Wikipedia

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