Skip to comments.Mig-25 defection: How a Soviet Pilot Brought a Secret Warplane To The West
Posted on 07/19/2013 6:26:41 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Mig-25 defection: How a Soviet Pilot Brought a Secret Warplane To The West
Viktor Belenko, is a Mig-25 pilot who defected to the United States via Japan on Sept. 6, 1976.
The then Lieutenant Belenko was a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment, 11th Air Army, based in Chuguyevka, Primorsky Krai, in the east of the country. When he brought his Mig-25 Foxbat to Hakodate he gave the Western intelligence officers the opportunity to give a first close look at one of the most secret airplanes of those years: a supersonic interceptor featuring a powerful radar, four air-to-air missiles and a top speed above Mach 3.
In order to assist the American experts in evaluating the aircraft, Belenko brought with him the pilots manual for the MiG-25 Foxbat, expecting to assist American pilots in evaluating and testing the aircraft.
Even if the Japanese government didnt originally give full access to the plane, the Americans were later invited to examine the aircraft extensively: the Mig was dismantled for such purpose and later returned to the Soviet Union.
Leonid Faerberg (transport-photo.com)
In his Mig pilot book (1983) John Barron claims that Viktor Belenkos defection was completely voluntary and was the result of Belenkos distrust on communist regime.
The MiG was delivered to Japan without the missiles, which were to be introduced in the Belenkos training later on.
The mission was launched earlier than initially planned, because the KGB was about to stop Viktor Ivanovich Belenko from defection.
Image Credit: testpilot.ru
Although pilot defections during the Cold War were not a rarity, what made Belenkos defection unique was the fact that the MiG-25 was completely unknown in the West.
This is the main point to bear in mind when thinking about Belenko and, unfortunately, this fact is often forgotten.
The ideological background for the events which took place in 1976 is deeply rooted in the beginnings of the post-war period.
As the Cold War was in progress there were many incidents and crises which closely led to a confrontation of the two superpowers.
One of these events was Francis Gary Powers U-2 spy flight on of May 1, 1960.
Powers U-2 took off from USAF Peshawar Air Base in Pakistan for a GRAND SLAM mission, to investigate the Soviet missile and plutonium production plants.
Targets were Sverdlovsk, Plesetsk (ICBM sites) and Mayak a plutonium plant.
The U-2 was a plane designed to fly well above the Soviet air defense Surface to Air Missile systems.
Its operational ceiling was out of the range of the Soviet interceptors and missiles but Powers flight was expected, all of the units and surface-to-air defenses were put on alert.
The MiGs pilots were ordered to ram the aircraft if necessary. The U-2 was eventually shot down by an S-75 Dvina missile near Degtayrsk in the Ural region. Because of high g-force Powers had no chance of reaching the airplanes self-destruction button and had to eject.
What is interesting is the fact that SAM crews did not know that the plane had already been shot down because MiGs IFF transponders were not updated (May 1st is a national holiday), therefore several MiGs were also shot down by S-75 rockets.
The political consequences of the spyflight were severe.
Shortly after the incident the Americans created a cover up story for Powers failure. NASA had announced in a very specific press relase that the pilot, having lost consciousness due to the problems with the oxygen equipment, had strayed into the Soviet territory with his autopilot engaged while doing a weather flight.
On May 7, Khrushchev announced that Powers has survived the crash and, nine days later, on May 16, 1960, during a Four Powers Paris Summit meeting with Harald MacMillan, Charles de Gaulle and Dwight Eisenhower he called the U-2 incident an act of a deliberate aggression.
Eisenhower refused to apologize for the incident, claiming that the U-2 flight was not of aggressive nature, having only a purpose of ensuring US safety. The meeting collapsed.
At the time, Eisenhower was a proponent of so called Open-Sky Policy, according to which both sides would allow for reciprocal reconnaissance flights over their territories. Khrushchev did not agree. Powers was sentenced to 7 years of hard labor in a Gulag, but he was exchanged for a Russian spy Rudolf Abel on the famous Glinecke Bridge in Potsdam, connecting West and East Germany.
Image Credit: allaccess.com
Gary Powers incident sparked the development of the American Oxcart programme, with the goal to design the SR-71 spy plane, which in addition to flying high, also flew very fast, out of the range of the Soviet missiles operational envelope.
What is more, a D-21 drone reconnaissance system was created, to be carried by SR-71 as a parasite. The drone would be dropped, fly over the Soviet Union, return over the Pacific and drop the reconnaissance materials on a parachute.
Both these designs led to the development of a Soviet countermeasure the MiG-25, known in NATO code as the Foxbat.
To be continued
i heard him speak about his defection back in 1988 at an Association of Old Crows convention... fascinating... no, i was not a member of the AOC... i worked as an assistant for two Old Crows... one was a Lt. Col. who reminded me so much Oliver North... it was funny... back then they would tease me and call me Fawn Hall... :)
I recall that Western experts were surprised that the MIG-25 was not built mostly of titanium like US Mach 2+ jets, but of steel.
Interesting reading, have to follow this.
Thank you for bringing back the memory of Blenko & his Mig-25
Not true. I was a war game enthusiast in my early teens, and there was a game called "Foxbat & Phantom" in the early 1970s.
Maybe have been the "game of the month (bi-month?)" in Strategy & Tactics Magazine.
distrust of, not distrust on.
That brings back memories. I rember seeing my dad’s AOC magazines/newsletters coming in the mail as a kid and being fascinated :^)
IIRC there were a lot of guffaws concerning the radio because it was vacuum tube.
Then they realized the radio was relatively immune to EMP.
I have read somewhere that the MIG 25 was a bit of a copy of the Canadian Avro which was cancelled due to so many Soviet spies being involved in the program.
Also tho the MIG 25 had an incredible top speed, it was not all that great as a fighter.
It was designed as a pure interceptor. It was immense and not maneuverable, and would have been a poor dogfighter. Its purpose was to intercept high-flying bombers and recon aircraft; really, it was largely a Soviet counter to something like the USAF’s XB-70 Valkyrie, the Mach 3 bomber prototype tested during the ‘60s but abandoned because of the increasing accuracy of SAMs and ICBMs/SLBMs.
The MiG-25 was built to climb rapidly, dash toward a target at Mach 2+, and fire missiles. But it wasn’t until this defection that the West really understood that the MiG-25 wasn’t some kind of air superiority superfighter. The result of the West’s panic over the MiG-25 were the F-14 Tomcat and the F-15 Eagle, both of which (the F-15 especially) were vastly superior air superiority fighters to the Foxbat.
I played that game as well. I think late 1973 or early 1974.
I had never heard that before. Also, in the West, the S-75 Dvina was known as the SA-2 Guideline.
Robert K. Dornan, who was running for Congress at the time, called the MiG-25 a "flying tank."
Belenko's wife was a real shrew too, and that made his decision to make a run for it in the his Foxbat that much easier.
And it was riveted together, with rust stains on the seams.
Well, a MiG-25 was a pure interceptor, designed to catch and shootdown U-2s and SR-71s. It’s turn radius was a hundred miles, and it could only sustain 3 G’s before the wings would fall off. It was no dogfighter like the F-15, but was designed to fly mostly in a straight line like a bat out of hell.
And that it had rust on it.