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On September 6, 1976 a Russian-built military aircraft landed at Japan's Hakodate Airport. The plane,a Mikoyan MIG-25, code-named by NATO the Foxbat, was piloted by Lieutenant Viktor Belenko, an officer of the Soviet Air Force. When Lieutenant Belenko defected to the West in his Foxbat, U.S. Air Force experts got their first close-up took at Russia's first-line fighter aircraft-and what they saw impressed them.

The Foxbat was a high-wing, twin-tailed, single-seat interceptor capable of flying at nearly three times the speed of sound at 80,000 feet and incorporated a number of features common to Soviet military aircraft. Its design emphasized ease of manufacturing and maintenance, as well as operational reliability. Another unique feature was an automatic early warning system that alerted the pilot to 16 unsafe conditions-such as engine or hydraulic system malfunction-and did so verbally in a woman's voice.

The MIG-25 Foxbat was powered by two Tumansky R-266 turbojet engines, each developing a maximum thrust of almost 30,000 pounds. The Foxbat carried an enormous amount of fuel-more than 30,000 pounds in eight separate tanks-for with its after burners operating at maximum thrust the plane consumed nearly two pounds of fuel per hour for each pound of thrust it produced.

Other outstanding features of the Foxbat were its automatic flight control and navigational systems, which took over operation of the aircraft shortly after takeoff. The system flew the Foxbat through its mission with ground control data input and returned the plane to within less than 200 feet of its landing objective.

The interceptor version of the Foxbat could be armed with four air-to-air missiles of either infrared heat-seeking and/or radar-guidance types.

Although admitting that the MIG-25 Foxbat performed its mission well, U.S. Air Force experts who examined and flew* the Soviet aircraft concluded that it was less sophisticated electronically than America's top-rated fighter-interceptors.

Interestingly, the Soviet Union rushed the Foxbat into production in the early 1960s as a deterrent to America's B-70-a Mach 3 bomber the United States never put into service.

 * A visitor to the website gives the following information:

The information on your page on the Mig 25 is erroneous.  Although the US military did in fact examine the aircraft, it was never flown.  The damage sustained on landing and the short time allowed for the examination precluded this.  The USSR knew where the aircraft was and considerable diplomatic pressure was applied for the USA to return "stolen" Soviet property and the USA was obliged under international law to comply.  Thus, the aircraft was examined with considerable speed and with meat clever efficiency.  The damage caused by US examiners ensured that the aircraft was scrapped shortly after its return to the Soviet Union.

The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004