Tag Archives: Surface to Air Missile

Mig-25 defection: How a Soviet Pilot Brought a Secret Warplane To The West

The story of Viktor Belenko, a Mig-25 pilot who defected to the United States via Japan on Sept. 6, 1976.

The then Lieutenant Belenko was a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment, 11th Air Army, based in Chuguyevka, Primorsky Krai, in the east of the country.  When he brought his Mig-25 “Foxbat” to Hakodate he gave the Western intelligence officers the opportunity to give a first close look at one of the most secret airplanes of those years: a supersonic interceptor featuring a powerful radar, four air-to-air missiles and a top speed above Mach 3.

In order to assist the American experts in evaluating the aircraft, Belenko brought with him the pilot’s manual for the MiG-25 “Foxbat”, expecting to assist American pilots in evaluating and testing the aircraft.

Even if the Japanese government didn’t originally give full access to the plane, the Americans were later invited to examine the aircraft extensively: the Mig was dismantled for such purpose and later returned to the Soviet Union.

In his “Mig pilot” book (1983) John Barron claims that Viktor Belenko’s defection was completely voluntary and was the result of Belenko’s distrust on communist regime.

The MiG was delivered to Japan without the missiles, which were to be introduced in the Belenko’s training later on.

The mission was launched earlier than initially planned, because the KGB was about to stop Viktor Ivanovich Belenko from defection.

Although pilot defections during the Cold War were not a rarity, what made Belenko’s defection unique was the fact that the MiG-25 was completely unknown in the West.

This is the main point to bear in mind when thinking about Belenko and, unfortunately, this fact is often forgotten.

The ideological background for the events which took place in 1976 is deeply rooted in the beginnings of the post-war period.

As the Cold War was in progress there were many incidents and crises which closely led to a confrontation of the two superpowers.

One of these events was Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy flight on of May 1, 1960.

Power’s U-2 took off from USAF Peshawar Air Base in Pakistan for a GRAND SLAM mission, to investigate the Soviet missile and plutonium production plants.

Targets were Sverdlovsk, Plesetsk (ICBM sites) and Mayak – a plutonium plant.

The U-2 was a plane designed to fly well above the Soviet air defense Surface to Air Missile systems.

Its operational ceiling was out of the range of the Soviet interceptors and missiles but Powers’ flight was expected, all of the units and surface-to-air defenses were put on alert.

The MiGs pilots were ordered to ram the aircraft if necessary. The U-2 was eventually shot down by an S-75 Dvina missile near Degtayrsk in the Ural region.  Because of high g-force Powers had no chance of reaching the airplane’s self-destruction button and had to eject.

What is interesting is the fact that SAM crews did not know that the plane had already been shot down because MiG’s’ IFF transponders were not updated (May 1st is a national holiday), therefore several MiG’s were also shot down by S-75 rockets.

The political consequences of the spyflight were severe.

Shortly after the incident the Americans created a cover up story for Powers’ failure. NASA had announced in a very specific press release that the pilot, having lost consciousness due to the problems with the oxygen equipment, had strayed into the Soviet territory with his autopilot engaged while doing a weather flight.

On May 7, Khrushchev announced that Powers has survived the crash and, nine days later, on May 16, 1960, during a Four Powers Paris Summit meeting with Harald MacMillan, Charles de Gaulle and Dwight Eisenhower  he called the U-2 incident an act of a “deliberate aggression.”

Eisenhower refused to apologize for the incident, claiming that the U-2 flight was not of aggressive nature, having only a purpose of ensuring US safety. The meeting collapsed.

At the time, Eisenhower was a proponent of so-called Open-Sky Policy, according to which both sides would allow for reciprocal reconnaissance flights over their territories. Khrushchev did not agree. Powers was sentenced to 7 years of hard labor in a Gulag, but he was exchanged for a Russian spy Rudolf Abel on the famous Glinecke Bridge in Potsdam, connecting West and East Germany.

Gary Powers incident sparked the development of the American Oxcart programme, with the goal to design the SR-71 spy plane, which in addition to flying high, also flew very fast, out of the range of the Soviet missiles’ operational envelope.

What is more, a D-21 drone reconnaissance system was created, to be carried by SR-71 as a parasite. The drone would be dropped, fly over the Soviet Union, return over the Pacific and drop the reconnaissance materials on a parachute.

Both these designs led to the development of a Soviet countermeasure – the MiG-25, known in NATO code as the Foxbat.

To be continued…

Image credit: Leonid Faerberg (transport-photo.com)

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North Korea-flaggeg cargo ship seized by Panama carried Fan Song radar of an SA-2 Surface to Air Missile system

On Jul. 16, Panamiam authorities seized a North Korea-flagged cargo ship on a voyage from Cuba toward the Panama Canal enroute back to its home country.

The “Chong Chon Gang” was carrying components of a missile system cloaked in a cargo of sugar in what would be considered, if confirmed, a clear violation of UN sanctions on Pyongyang.

Later on the same day, President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama, posted a photograph in a Twitter message of what he described as “sophisticated missile equipment” found in the cargo.

After an open source imagery analysis, the military equipments found inside the containers can be identified as Russian made (or eventual clones of) SNR-75 Fan Song series engagement radar for the S-75/SA-2 Surface to Air Missile family.

Giuliano Ranieri, a contributor to The Aviationist, highlighted the matching details in the photo posted by Martinelli and one of the radar available on the Internet.

Image credit: Giuliano Ranieri. Sources: Martinelli and forum.valka.cz

The component is a P-11 swept beam horizontal array of the Fan Song.

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Lethal: Watch this rebel hit a Syrian helicopter using an SA-16 shoulder mounted surface to air missile systems

Even if it’s not clear whether the targeted Mi-8/17 Hip chopper was able to survive the hit (in the last year some Syrian helicopters have proved their ability to withstand ground fire by Surface to Air Missiles), the following video shows how lethal some shoulder mounted surface to air missile systems can be.


While the chopper flies at medium altitude, the rebel can target it with an SA-16 and wait the right moment to fire.

The episode took place on Jun. 10 at Aleppo.

H/T to @troublejee for the heads-up

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Video shows first direct hit of a Surface to Air Missile on a Syrian helicopter

The following video clearly shows a Syrian Mil Mi-17 Hip helicopter hit by a surface-to-air missile near Aleppo on Nov. 27, 2012.

Even if there we have seen many videos showing Assad’s gunships downed by rebels fire, this is the first one to provide evidence of a direct hit using a SAM.

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This B-1 bomber releasing flares during a high-speed flyby is my favourite image of the day

The B-1 has been dubbed as the plane capable to carry the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory.

Flares are aerial infrared countermeasures made of a composition based on hot-burning metal used to counter heat seeking surface-to-air missiles: flares generate temperatures equal to or hotter than engine exhaust attracting the missile’s seeker head.

Put the two things together and you’ll get one of the coolest pictures I’ve seen lately.

Image credit: Dyess Air Force Base