Militaries, Metals, and Mining – by Fabian Villalobos & Morgan Bazilian (New Security Beat – April 17, 2023)

In the early 1960s, Soviet fulfillment officers at the Berezniki and Zaporozh’ye ilmenite mines must have noticed an uptick in worldwide demand for titanium. Orders for titanium sponge were increasing around the globe, and the Soviet Union reacted by increasing production rapidly.

Yet some of these deliveries resulting from this boost in production were not reaching their intended customers. In fact, some of their customers didn’t even exist. Little did the Soviet producers know that it was actually the CIA on the receiving end of these shipments.

The goal of the subterfuge? Supply Lockheed Martin with high-temperature titanium to build the A12 spy plane, a forerunner to the SR-71 Blackbird. Russia, and a few other Soviet republics, had won the geological lottery and possessed secure access to the ilmenite ore needed to produce titanium. The U.S. did not have what it took to manufacture this wonder metal.

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