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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 (Foxbat).

The MiG-25 (NATO reporting name Foxbat) was an interceptor produced by the Soviet Union's Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the 1960's. The aircraft, armed solely with AA-6 Air-to-air missiles, was designed to meet the threat of the American XB-70 Valkyrie Mach 3 bomber, and therefore has better speed and altitude performance than any other fighter aircraft, with a maximum speed of Mach 3.2 and a ceiling of 90,000 feet. However, the MiG-25, built for sheer speed, is inferior to almost all other jet fighters in maneuverability, and was therefore somewhat redundant as an interceptor following the XB-70's cancellation. In addition, the aircraft in service had to be limited to Mach 2.8, as higher speeds than this tended to overheat and wreck the engines.

Despite its limitations, a false appreciation of its abilities caused NATO to develop new designs to counter this perception. A combination of poor information gathering (including misidentifying the radar traces of several ballistic missiles being test fired as Foxbats being put through their paces) and poor extrapolation led to NATO's belief that the Foxbat was a long-range, high-maneuverability fighter-interceptor. While the information on speed, altitude and radar was reasonably accurate, the rest of the assessment was not, and it led to the perception of the Foxbat as a "boogeyman", a plane that far exceeded those of NATO. This perception led to the creation of several extremely advanced fighters, designed to counter the perceived threat. Among these planes were the McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and, less directly, the Dassault Mirage 2000. Thus, despite its own inadequacies, the Foxbat secured its place in aviation history by spurring on these advances.

Many former Soviet client states use an unarmed version of the MiG-25 as a reconnaissance aircraft.

In an intelligence coup for the west, on September 6th, 1976, a MiG 25 Foxbat of the Soviet Air Defense Command flown by Lt. Viktor Belenko landed at Hakodate airport, Japan. Belenko was defecting to the west and gave them the first in-depth look at the aircraft. It was carefully dismantled and analysed by the Foreign Technology Division of the USAF, at Dayton, Ohio. After 67 days the aircraft was returned to the Russians in pieces. The analysis showed some surprising facts:

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