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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.

While the Ye-155 was always envisioned for interception missions, Mikoyan-Gurevich did not lose sight of possible use as an untouchable "fast reconnaissance" platform. 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 aircraft which set sustained speed records of 1,411 mph in April of 1965. The Ye-155 prototype was assigned a secret designation of "Ye-266" (Ye-266M) and utilized as a record-breaking platform. These records were acknowledged by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), bringing attention of the Soviet design to Western observers for the first time. The first record breaking act occurred on March 16th, 1965 with Alexander Fedotov at the controls, reaching 2,319.12km/h and a 1,000- and 2,000kg payload. 2,982.5km/h was then achieved without a payload in 1967. Fedotov eventually claimed another record by reaching an altitude of 29,977m while carrying a payload of 1,000kg and later netted 35,230m with a 1,000kg payload - this record, however, resulting in an double engine flameout and forcing the pilot to glide his aircraft back down to safety. On August 31st, 1977, a Ye-266M fitted with a pair of R-15-BF2-300 engines set a speed record at 123,523.62 feet.

Lockheed's A-12 was quick to capture several records away from the Mikoyan-Gurevich aircraft by May of 1965. Of the 29 records claimed by the new Soviet design, several were not broken until the early-to-mid 1990s while others remain even today. Their efforts in the design of the Ye-155/Ye-266 and its counterparts captured the design Mikoyan-Gurevich design team the "Lenin Prize" for their achievements. The Ye-266 record-breaking airframe would prove critical in the development and ultimate production of the upcoming MiG-31 "Foxhound" series - a long-range interceptor created in 1982 to overcome the performance limitations of the MiG-25 series, once the latter entered service production with Soviet units in the 1970s.

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. Production of the interceptor was undertaken in 1969 under the military designation of "MiG-25". NATO believed the new Soviet aircraft to be an agile, dedicated fighter design, and assigned the MiG-25 the codename of "Foxbat" to coincide with NATO practice of designating Soviet fighters with "F" names and bombers with "B" names.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 02-04-2016 20:02:31 ZULU