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MiG Corporation is 70 years old

RIA Novosti


On December 8, the Russian aircraft corporation MiG, formerly called the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau, celebrates its 70th anniversary.

MiG, one of the most popular Soviet aircraft brands, was known all over the world and came to symbolize just about any Soviet warplane, except long-range bombers, in the West during the Cold War.

And in fact, MiG's glory was well-deserved.

The MiG Design Bureau pioneered the development of post-war turbojet fighters in the Soviet Union. Its first jet fighter, the I-300 later designated the MiG-9 Fargo, performed its maiden flight on April 24, 1946 and became the first jet fighter to enter service with the Soviet air force.

It was followed by the legendary MiG-15 Fagot, which brought lasting fame to the MiG Design Bureau and which served with Soviet and foreign air forces for over 50 years. The hard-hitting MiG-15 had three cannons and won a reputation for its high speed and excellent vertical and horizontal maneuverability.

The MiG-15 soon became the main Soviet air-superiority fighter and also entered service with other socialist countries.

The fighter's finest hour came during the 1950-1953 Korean War. In October 1950, the Soviet 64th Fighter Corps was assigned to defend logistics support and border facilities in North Korea. Chinese and North Korean air forces also received new fighters.

The MiG-15, which was the main Soviet, Chinese and North Korean fighter in that conflict, downed nearly 1,400 U.S. and other UN aircraft. 566 MiG-15s were lost in the war, including 335 Soviet MiG-15 fighters. In all, Soviet fighters downed about 1,100 enemy aircraft at the cost of 120 pilots.

The West, which does not like to discuss that conflict, usually recalls the number of downed MiG-15s and the 200-plus North American Aviation F-86 Sabre fighters shot down during the Korean War.

The F-86 Sabre, which was the best U.S. fighter of that period, could not cope with the MiG-15, which virtually controlled Soviet, Chinese and North Korean air space.

Although the MiG-15 began to be replaced with more advanced aircraft after the war, over 15,000 of these fighters were manufactured, making them the most popular jet-fighter model in history. In fact, the Albanian air force scrapped its last MiG-15 in 2005.

Before the advent of surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, the MiG-15 and its successors, the MiG-17 Fresco and the MiG-19 Farmer, formed a vital element of Soviet air defense throughout the 1950s.

Large fighter units, which had won a formidable reputation in the course of intensive dogfights, became a highly important deterrent at a time when Soviet nuclear weapons were still in the experimental stage and when Soviet long-range bombers were unable to reach the United States on two-way missions.

U.S. military planners realized that strategic bomber groups would be sitting ducks in Eastern Europe and Soviet air space, and that a hypothetical nuclear strike was highly unlikely to inflict unacceptable damage on the U.S.S.R.

The MiG-21, which first took off in 1958 and whose production was launched in 1959, is still in service. The MiG-23 Flogger fighter and its modified version, the MiG-27 Flogger-D/J, the MiG-25 Foxbat and MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors, as well as the MiG-29 Fulcrum, now being converted into the MiG-35 Fulcrum-F, continue to fly today.

MiG-29 tests conducted by the NATO air force revealed that, given equal pilot training, this fighter has an advantage over similar Western aircraft during close-range dogfights, a traditionally strong feature of Soviet warplanes, and during medium-range combat involving air-to-air missiles with a range of 20 to 30 km.

Although the MiG Design Bureau faced major problems after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the situation is now improving. The company now repairs and upgrades previously manufactured aircraft for the Russian and foreign air forces.

The MiG Corporation continues to sign additional contracts. Federal funding has allowed it to develop the state-of-the-art MiG-35 which, as experts say, has good market prospects.

The company is also developing a fifth-generation fighter, due to appear in the next decade.

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik)

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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