Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 43
thorough investigation before it could be
released. And having been warned that there
were self-destruct mechanisms on board
that might go off, they would have to very
carefully dismantle the entire aircraft. And
just in case they needed help, they invited
American experts to join the project.
What did they learn?
At that time in 1976, about 400 MiG-25s
were in service, and this one had logged only
about 30 hours before it arrived in Japan, so
it was the newest and best version to be had.
Probably the most revealing surprise was
that the Foxbat was very heavy for its size -
mainly because much of it was made of steel,
and only the leading edges of the wings and
tails were made of much lighter and stronger titanium that could withstand the high
temperatures created by speeds near Mach 3.
So, while the belief had been that the large
wing would give the Foxbat the agility to be
a dogfighter, the wing was big because the
plane was so heavy. And being so heavy, it
could never win a dogfight.
Secondly, the huge engines consumed
great quantities of fuel, so in making a wartime intercept in afterburner at high altitude
above Mach 2, it would have time for only
one pass at a target before turning back to
base. Still, while not a dogfighter, it would
indeed be a very capable point-defense
interceptor. In effect, it was most like a
manned, reusable surface-to-air missile.
The inspections also noted the "red line"
on the Mach meter was at 2.8. Later, when
the pilot was interviewed in the U.S., he
said his group were only allowed to fly up to
Mach 2.5, and they were warned it became
very difficult to control beyond Mach 2.8. As
for the Sinai flight at Mach 3.2, he said that
that one flight damaged both engines beyond
repair. Besides, with air-to-air missiles on
the wings it could go no faster than Mach
2.8, so it could never catch up to an SR-71
Blackbird. As for dogfighting, any maneuvers
beyond 5 Gs were dangerous. For all of these
reasons, it seemed the MiG-25 Foxbat was not
so fast and not so agile after all.
Belenko Goes to America
Since the pilot had asked for asylum in
the U.S., the Japanese handed him over
to the Americans. Just three days after
arriving in Japan he was on a Northwest
Airlines Boeing 747 en route to Los Angeles,
accompanied by two Russian-speaking CIA
agents. Although they boarded with coachseat tickets, for security the upper-deck
lounge was reserved exclusively for them,
and a beefy U.S. Marine in mufti - or, civilian clothes - guarded the spiral staircase.
From Los Angeles, a CIA passenger jet took
them to Virginia, and in the dead of night
they were driven to a safe house that would
be Belenko's home for the next few months.
Once they were convinced that Belenko
was a genuine asylum seeker, they began a
program to help him prepare for his new life.
His mornings were taken up with English language lessons and visits to local towns and
shops where he could observe the American
way of life. In return he freely discussed
what he knew about the MiG-25, its good
and bad features, their operational tactics,
and how the pilots were trained to fly them.
His CIA friends offered to take him anywhere he wanted to go, beginning with
shopping malls and grocery stores where
he was amazed at the luxury as compared
to life in the U.S.S.R. Being a pilot, he
asked to visit an Air Force base, and later
an aircraft carrier at sea, and off they went.
During one trip he was introduced to Chuck
Yeager. Belenko was thrilled to meet Yeager,
knowing he was the first man to exceed
the speed of sound. The two men got along
very nicely and formed a lasting friendship.
While Belenko had expected he might be
abandoned once the U.S. had learned all
they could about the MiG, the CIA established an irrevocable trust that guaranteed
generous income for the rest of his life. He
could further his education, travel, find
employment if he wanted to, and settle
anywhere he chose.
The Foxbat was armed with four AA-6 Acrid
20-foot-long air-to-air missiles. Photo: U.S.
Air Force via Wikimedia Commons
As for Viktor Belenko, in 1976 he had
been officially granted asylum by President
Ford, and in 1980 President Carter awarded
him U.S. citizenship.
A retired Foxbat now on display at Kubinka,
Russia, showing the enormous engine air intakes.
Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons
In 1980 Belenko co-wrote his autobiography, MiG Pilot, with the aid of writer John
Barron. By then he had changed his name
and decompressed for a while by working
as a farmhand. He went on to find work as
a military aviation consultant, married a
teacher and started a new family.
Belenko stayed in touch with Yeager.
Besides his life as an aviator, Yeager was
an avid outdoorsman who took annual hiking and fishing trips in the Sierras with a
few friends. On more than a dozen occasions Belenko accompanied Yeager on these
trips. In 1988, Chuck and Viktor put on
a traveling road show together, making
presentations at a number of USAF pilot
About two months after landing in Japan,
the wayward Foxbat was packed up into
several crates and delivered to a Russian
ship to take back home. The Russians reassembled the aircraft but never flew it again,
alleging the Japanese may have damaged
it somehow. It was eventually put on display among other aircraft outside the Sokol
factory in Nizhny Novgoro. You can spot it
on Bing Maps using the bird's eye feature.
In 1977 the U.S.S.R. presented to Japan
a claim of about $11 million for the damage done to their aircraft. The Japanese
demanded $40,000 for damage to the ILS
system at the Hakodate airport. Neither
party paid the other.
MiG-25s remained in production with
several variants until 1984, with more than
1,100 delivered. By then they were operated
by several air forces within the U.S.S.R.'s
sphere including Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and
Belarus, as well as India, Algeria and Libya.
Eventually the MiG-25 was superseded
by the MiG-31, a much-improved Foxbat -
named "Foxhound." Since then, the MiG-25s
have become obsolete, and many of them
are now rusty hulks in boneyards, although
some have been cleaned up and put on
display outdoors or in museums.
Jetrader * Summer 2017 43
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jetrader - Summer 2017
A Message from the President
Q&A: Douglas W. Runte, CFA, Managing Director, Securitized Products & High Yield Research, Deutsche Bank
Printing the Future
Q&A: Abdol Moabery, President and CEO, GA Telesis, LLC
Escalation and Hope — Reflections from ISTAT Americas 2017
Forward Facing: ISTAT Asia
Aircraft Economic Life
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Intro
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - cover1
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - cover2
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 3
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 4
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - A Message from the President
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 6
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 7
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Calendar/News
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 9
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Q&A: Douglas W. Runte, CFA, Managing Director, Securitized Products & High Yield Research, Deutsche Bank
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 11
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 12
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 13
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Printing the Future
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 15
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 16
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 17
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Upward Bound
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 19
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 20
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 21
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Q&A: Abdol Moabery, President and CEO, GA Telesis, LLC
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 23
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 24
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 25
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Escalation and Hope — Reflections from ISTAT Americas 2017
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 27
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 28
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 29
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 30
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 31
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Forward Facing: ISTAT Asia
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 33
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 34
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 35
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 36
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 37
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 38
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 39
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Aircraft Economic Life
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 41
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Aviation History
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 43
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Aircraft Appraisals
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 45
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - ISTAT Foundation
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 47
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - 48
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Advertiser Index
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - Advertiser.com
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - cover3
Jetrader - Summer 2017 - cover4