Military


MiG-25 FOXBAT

The Foxbat is a high-performance, high-altitude interceptor. This fast but unmaneuverable interceptor has also been deployed as a high altitude reconnaissance platform. Given the NATO reporting name 'Foxbat', the MiG-25 was designed to intercept the US B-70 bomber that was to have been capable of Mach 3. The B-70 was never built, however, so the Soviets were left with a long-range interceptor capable of astonishing speed and a phenomenal rate of climb. A MiG-25 can take off and climb to an altitude of 35,000 meters (114,000 ft) in a little over four minutes.

It would appear that at the time of the MiG-15 requirement, the intelligence, planning, and technological forecasting elements of the Soviet hierarchy had more to consider than the B-36. The B-47 and B-52 were sufficiently well under way to create a fairly accurate estimate of future U.S. strategic capabilities. Among those capabilities the B-36 was only the most proximate. Likewise, the hypotheses about reactive designs of the TU-128P and MiG-25 are viable in this context, but the point remains that multiple considerations about the “threat” may have entered the decision.

A comparison applied to altitude serves to confirm the MiG-15/B-36 interaction and further confuse the relationship between the MiG-25 and the XB-70. The illustration serves to introduce a most important aspect of possible qualitative interaction. The Soviets, in the first decade after the war, attained a capability to contest the high altitude regime. However, the change of U.S. tactics which emphasized low-level penetration rendered their capability largely obsolete.

To contest the low-level regime required a competence in electronics which found them at an extreme disadvantage. Thereafter, the predominant Soviet operational objectives, speed and high altitude, became largely irrelevant. The tactic of low-level penetration radically altered the basis of qualitative interaction. For twenty years the Soviets have had the “requirement” to cope with the low-level threat. From what is known about Soviet avionics, the requisite Doppler radars and moving target indicator circuitry had not emerged to enable a Soviet interceptor to look down on a penetrating bomber against the clutter of radar returns from the ground.

The first prototype, the Ye-155-R1 reconnaissance variant, made its first flight on 06 March 1964. The first flight of the interceptor prototype, Ye-155-P1, took place on 09 September 1964. The interceptor was generally associated with the Ye-266 experimental craft which set sustained speed records of 1,411 mph in April of 1965. Development of the MiG-25, took several more years to complete. The new aircraft was first shown to the public at Domodedovo air show on 09 July 1967.

The MiG-25 had the characteristics of an aircraft designed for intercepts at extremely high altitudes and speeds. It had speed and altitude characteristics in excess of any aircraft then operational in the world with the notable exception of the U.S SR-71. Although there was an initial argument in the West that such a capable aircraft would be assigned to an air superiority role with Frontal Aviation, it since became clear that the MiG-25 in its interceptor version has been deployed with the APVO. A high-speed reconnaissance version was deployed with Frontal Aviation.

It is noteworthy that there appeared to have been no competing aircraft prototypes associated with either the Su-15 or the MiG-25 requirements. The tradition of design competition was much in evidence in 1967 with respect to variable-geometry wing and VSTOL aircraft, but the two PVO aircraft were evidently developed in complementary, non-competitive programs. Competitive designs were abandoned before prototype construction — possibly at the stage of design approval or mock-up.

The MiG-25 closed a significant gap in aircraft performance between the mainstream of Soviet fighters and the performance of long-range interceptors. Since WWII each successive generation of Soviet fighters had demonstrated increased speed and altitude compared to its predecessor. The YAK-25, in 1955, departed from this overall trend, however. It represented a distinct sacrifice of performance to gain range and to accommodate the bulky accouterments of an all-weather capability. Successive modifications of the Yakovlev aircraft maintained this trend while the Tupolev fighter epitomized it. The MiG-25, however, represented a merger of the two trends of development. It apparently signified the increased importance of range and avionics equipment. Likewise it represented heavier designs required for higher and higher speeds. Meanwhile improvements in propulsion technology have provided engines which allow heavier aircraft to achieve higher speeds and altitudes.

MiG-25 production was notable for its leisurely pace and lack of impact on the industry. During the 1960s one plant, Novosibirsk 153, provided the majority of PVO aircraft during the decade. Only the Tu-128P, of a size comparable to a bomber, was produced in facilities which accommodated other Tupolev bomber and transport activities. The MiG-25 departed from the pattern of Novosibirsk production for PVO; it was manufactured at Gorkiy plant 21 which had produced only, Mikoyan aircraft since 1948. Meanwhile, at Novosibirsk, a tactical fighter, the Su-19 (Fencer) started production to maintain that plant’s tie with Sukhoi.

The Mig-25 aircraft was originally designed for the sole task of high-altitude interception of enemy aircraft - without a look-down radar, high-turning rate or the heavy ordnance of multi-mission planes. Uncomplicated designs maximize standardization opportunities, enhance reliability, cost less and reduce maintenance training and logistics. There are several versions of this aircraft: A--basic interceptor; B--reconnaissance; C--two-seat trainer; D--reconnaissance with a modified radar; and E. The FOXBAT A aircraft, originally designed to counter high-altitude threats, has been converted to FOXBAT E, providing a limited low-altitude look-down and shoot-down capabilities somewhat comparable to FLOGGER.

The wings are high-mounted, swept-back, and tapered with square tips. The aircraft has two turbojet engines and large rectangular air intakes below the canopy and forward of the wing roots. There are dual exhaust. The fuselage is long and slender with solid, pointed nose. The aircraft is box-like from the air intakes to rear section. It has a bubble canopy. On the tail are twin, sweptback, and tapered fins with angular tips. There are flats mid- to low-mounted on fuselage, swept-back, and tapered with angular tips.

Assemblies of the airframe of aircraft MIG-25 (fuselage, wings, keels, stabilizer, pylons, nose fairing). MIG-25 - one-place supersonic fighter, capable of carrying out flight with a velocity of 3 000 km/h and of accomplishing energetic (with the overload to 4,5 units) maneuvers in the range of the velocities of 2500-3000 km/h. Aircraft has two engines R -15 of the construction OF OKB Of s. tumanskiy with the thrust 11000 kg each. On the aircraft MIG-25 since 1965 on 1978 were established twenty five world speed records, height and rate of climb. The basic special features of the aerodynamic layout of this aircraft were: the wing of the moderate sweepback (41 deg), of the small relative thickness; flat off-axis inlets in combination with the wide lift fuselage; the double-keel diagram of vertical tail assembly; the differentially controllable stabilizer, which ensures the high efficiency of lateral control in flight with the high speeds. The kinetic heating of construction at the high flight velocities determined the selection of material - high-temperature high-temperature (strength) steels. The fuselage of the aircraft is of all-welded construction high-temperature (strength) stainless steel of the type VNS-2, VNS-SHCH, etc.

The wing of 3- longeron construction, is sectional on the joint with the nose tank and is nondetachable on the joint of nose tank with the central tank also of central tank with the trailing section of wing. Nose from OT -4 of all-welded construction. Nose and central tanks - tank of all-welded construction from VNS-2 and VNS-SHCH, power packs - made of steel E0KHGSA. Aileron and the flap of riveted construction with the application of honeycomb blocks. Pylon (APU-YA0, APU-YA0D) of riveted construction with the pintle suspension to the wing. Load-bearing elements - made of steel E0KHGSA, guides of pylon have chromium coating. Skins and structural elements are made from materials D -16, D -19.

NATO had its first detailed look at the MiG-25 when a Soviet pilot defected to Japan with one in September 1976. Soviet Lt. Viktor I. Belenko carried two personal items – a knee-pad notebook with flight data and a military identity document – on his dramatic flight to freedom in a MiG-25 Foxbat fighter from the USSR to Japan in 1976. Born in 1947, Belenko was a fighter pilot with the Soviet Air Defense Forces based at Chuguyevka near the eastern perimeter of the Soviet Union. He became an instant celebrity when he successfully defected to the West by flying his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat jet fighter across the Sea of Japan to Hakodate, Japan, on 6 September 1976. Western military and civilian experts welcomed the resulting opportunity to get a firsthand look at the aircraft and to debrief its pilot.

The USSR sent two formal protest notes to the Japanese government over the MIG-25 incident and ostentatiously refused to exchange greetings on the 20th anniversary of the normalization of Soviet—Japanese diplomatic relations in October. The Soviets also seized an above-average number of Japanese fishing boats in September and October for alleged violation of Soviet territorial waters. The Soviets were reluctant to carry out threats to retaliate in other economic areas because Soviet-Japanese economic cooperation benefited the USSR as much as it did Japan. The Soviets, moreover, did not want to give China an advantage with new Japanese leaders by prolonged remonstrances over the MIG—25 affair. Concerned about its relations with the Soviet Union, the Japanese Government limited US access to the MiG before it was disassembled and returned to the USSR in 30 crates.

This exposed its 1950s-era radar and other features that dispelled much of the mythology built up by some Western analysts since the first sighting of the 'Foxbat' in 1967. Subsequent analysis revealed a simple-yet-functional design with vacuum-tube electronics, two massive turbojet engines, and sparing use of advanced materials such as titanium.

Since the advent of both atomic weapons and orbiting satellites, electronics designers had to face the issue of how to sustain operation in the presence of damaging radiation to delicate, miniature electrical components. To the surprise of Belenko’s interrogators, they found that most on-board avionics in this advanced aircraft utilized vacuum tube technology, not solid-state electronics. Beyond ruggedness and easy replaceability, such vacuum components were highly radiation hard. That is, they could continue to operate properly even in a high-intensity radiation environment. On the other hand, dated technology such as vacuum tubes and hand wiring cost more.

Belenko, however, stayed in the West. After the US Government granted him asylum, CIA played a central role in organizing months of debriefings. Belenko became an American citizen by an act of Congress when President Jimmy Carter signed a private bill into law. Belenko developed a love for the American West and, after marrying, settled on a ranch in Wyoming. He found common ground with some famous Americans, such as the fighter ace and test pilot Chuck Yeager, with whom he regularly embarked on rugged hiking and fishing expeditions. Belenko cooperated with author John Barron to produce a well-received biography, MiG Pilot, The Final Escape of Lieutenant Belenko, which was published in 1980.

The Mig-25 has been advanced as ‘*unsurpassed in the ease of maintenance” and “a masterpiece in standardization.” (Soviet era statistics show that for tactical aircraft, such as the MiG-25PD, the number of elements to be upgraded would generally total 10 to 15 after each 1500 flight hours. At the same time, from 1980 to 1988 flights of MiG-25's were suspended six times and flights were restricted until structural changes were made more than 15 times.

Iraq attempted several interceptor sorties during the opening days of Desert Storm, but reached the same conclusion as had the Syrians over the Bekka Valley, that flying against Western air forces would be suicidal. Coalition forces shot down 41 Iraqi aircraft, 24 with Sparrows and 12 with Sidewinders. An Iraqi MiG-25 may have scored a single aerial kill just before it was shot down.

The aircraft on exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, a MiG-25RB, was found in 2003 by American forces buried in the sand near Al Taqaddum Airbase 250km west of Baghdad during the opening months of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The MiG-25 was buried to prevent its destruction on the ground by coalition aircraft. The aircraft was recovered incomplete--the wings could not be located and the vertical stabilizers were removed for transport.




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