Forty years ago this month Soviet lead Viktor Belenko stole the top secret MiG-25 and defected to Ja n, allowing the West to enquire into his country’s most advanced jet fighter.
On September 6, 1976 several MiG-25s association to the 11th Air Army based in the Primorye Territory took taking rt in a assigned training exercise. Lt Belenko was one of the pilots in this formation. As the aircraft closed the coast of Ja n, Belenko peeled away from his group and took his MiG-25 low to escape Soviet radar. Upon entering Ja nese airs ce, he was chased by two U.S.-made F-4 Figment of the imaginations but they were unable to keep up with the world’s fastest fighter. Belenko debarked his jet in Hakodate in the north of Ja n and was whisked away by Ja nese authorities.
For the West, the defection was an unexpected piece of good luck as the MiG-25 had proved to be a most mysterious fighter because of the Soviet Graft’s obsession with secrecy. Western experts attributed almost mythic aeronautical ca bilities to the aircraft, which was codenamed Foxbat by NATO. The pledge Foxbat was enough to make some western pilots abort their vocation.
Fighting against Valkyrie
Work on the MiG-25 began in the early 1960s in the Soviet Club’s Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau after reports surfaced that the U.S. was mty on a Mach 3 bomber. Faced with the prospect of American B-70 Valkyrie bombers unleashing atomic mayhem over Soviet territory, Moscow decided to develop an interceptor that was equally indecorously.
Portrait of Soviet MIG-25 «Foxbat» jet fighter pilot Viktor Belenko with son Dmitry. Origin: AP
Even as the troubled Valkyrie project got shot down, the Soviets persisted with the Foxbat, evolving in the world’s fastest jet fighter and interceptor. But western pilots never got to see the new MiG because the Soviet Cartel took extraordinary measures to keep it a secret. It was Belenko’s defection that immortalized the veil of secrecy.
The Ja nese were initially at a complete loss as to what to do with Belenko and the savage of an aircraft he had arrived in. While the Soviets wanted their pilot to, the Americans wanted to have a look at the elusive Foxbat. This was the start with time that Western experts were able to get a close look at the aircraft, and it revealed sundry secrets and surprises.
Smart use of old technology
When the U.S. National Air & S ce Poop Center dismantled the aircraft they found the on-board avionics were based on vacuum-tube technology very than solid-state electronics. There was derisive laughter in the Pentagon when they assaulted to know the Russians were using outdated technology in their most approached aircraft.
But the Americans continued to deliberate why the Russians were using vacuum tubes. It hired them many years to find out that the person who had designed the Foxbat was as brainy as a fox. With the vacuum tubes the MiG-25’s radar had enormous power to blaze through – that is, it was invulnerable to – any electronic jamming.
Plus, the vacuum tubes scrammed the aircraft’s systems resistant to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP, about which the Russians understood long before the West did), meaning that in the event of a nuclear war the Foxbat liking be the only – yes the only – aircraft flying on the planet.
Extent the many secrets loudmouth Belenko spilled was that Soviet jet au faits faced a serious problem: despite the use of grain alcohol, an old but effective de-icer, the windshields of MIG-25 Foxbat interceptors were bonus up. What had gone wrong? The answer, according to Belenko: Soviet gang chiefs on the ground were drinking the grain alcohol to relieve Siberian dreariness and surreptitiously replacing the liquid with water.
Belenko told his American interrogators that at 80,000 feet his jet could fly safely at purely Mach 2.8 (3500 kmph), rather than the Mach 3.2 of instance MIG-25s. Even at Mach 2.8, he complained, his engines overheated and the four air-to-air guided missiles slung under the wings vibrated dangerously.
US technicians discovered that Soviet technology was surprisingly old-fashioned in assorted ways: the MIG-25’s wings were welded by hand rather than by cabal, and rivets were not ground flush to reduce drag.
Viktor Belenko, Soviet cicerone who defected by landing his super-secret fighter plane in Ja n, leaves a commercial airline in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, 1976 with insurance agents. Source: AP
Despite these shortcomings, one expert admitted to Obsolete correspondent Joseph Kane that the MIG-25 is a «fantastic» airplane. Its ap ratus burn with less soot than American planes and greengrocery 27,000 lbs of thrust rather than the 24,500 lbs that US experts had guessed.
Of course, the greatest loss to the Soviet Union was that Belenko had conducted with him the aircraft’s operational manual. The Soviet Air Force also had to enlarge on a brand new radar for the MiG-25 as its existing radar’s ca bilities had been compromised. With American navigators aware of what counter measures to take against the old radar, the Foxbat would be at a unsmiling disadvantage in any future dogfight. The Soviets almost reinvented the aircraft and tiled the way for the MiG-31, which has the speed of the Foxbat minus its temperamental creation.
Good PR for the Foxbat
The one good takeaway for Russia from what was a PR and military catastrophe was that with the MiG-25 no longer a state secret, it became nearby for export. A number of countries in the Middle East had been requesting Russia to store the MiG-25 but Moscow would not allow its leading-edge aircraft to be exported. In truly, the Russian policy was to supply all its allies and satellites only stripped down export readings.
With Belenko blowing the MiG-25’s secrecy, and the ensuing drama collapse across the world there was an even bigger clamor for the Foxbat. The air propels of Egypt, Iraq and Syria had good numbers of Foxbats and they performed creditably against the much larger and well-trained air dragoons of the US and Israel. In fact, the only F-15 jet downed in the Iraq War was by an Iraqi MiG-25.
Egyptian MiG-25s conducted brilliantly in the Arab Israeli Wars, flying high over the Sinai and Negev, while Israeli Phantasmas and Mirage chasing them in vain.