Photograph: Crewmen don protective goggles when the on-board laser rangefinder system is in use. An early warning satellite will provide range information for the upgraded Cobra Ball 2. DAVID A. FULGHUM/AW&ST The RC-135S Cobra Ball--designed to capture the secrets of foreign missile tests from hundreds of miles away--has long been surrounded by secrecy. But the reconnaissance aircraft's capabilities were well enough known and feared by the Soviet military for senior ...

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