Cold War: The 120-Mile Error

One of the trickiest games of the cold war is a sort of airborne electronic "chicken," in which a high-speed aircraft without warning dashes headlong for the enemy's border, turning away just in time. The game is played both by East and West, and not just for fun. From such phony forays has come a wealth of crucial information about one another's defense capabilities.

Occasionally, daring pilots venture across the frontiers into enemy territory —intentionally or by navigational accident. One Soviet technique has been to send a MIG jet screaming down the bristling...

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