Lieutenant Belenko was a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment, 11th Air Army, Soviet Air Defence Forces based in Chuguyevka, Primorsky Krai. His name became known worldwide on September 6, 1976, when he successfully defected to the West, flying his MiG-25 “Foxbat” jet fighter to Hakodate, Japan.
The runway wasn’t long enough, so the jet actually plowed through hundreds of feet of dirt before coming to rest.
The pilot left the cockpit and fired two warning shots into the air. Motorists on the road next to the airport had gathered and began taking pictures. The pilot, 29-year-old Flight Lieutenant Viktor Ivanovich Belenko of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, said he wanted to defect.
This was not a typical defection. Belenko had just flown 400 miles and landed at a foreign airbase in a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25, the most secretive airplane the Soviets ever developed.
At first the Soviet officers at Sokolovka airbase, where Belenko was stationed, thought that it was navigation systems problem that occurred and lead to the event. The defection, however, was preplanned and premeditated.
He got a job as an instructor in Amarvir Pilot School, flying Sukhoi Su-15 planes, always being a top notch airman. It was in the beginning of the 1970s when he heard about a MiG-25 for the first time.
Almost immediately, wanting to learn about the new plane, he asked for transfer to flight training on Foxbat in 1972. The unit he applied to was Rostov, near Iran, but he was soon moved to the far east, to Sokolovka, the 530th Fighter Regiment.
The permission for transfer given by the commander being an exception in those times was justified with the Belenko’s great interest in the modern air technology. His records were flawless, so he was selected, and he was appointed a party secretary of the squadron.
On Sept. 6, 1976 soon after the take-off Belenko reported engine problems and separated from the group. He dropped to an altitude of 50 m above the sea, so no problems that usually occur in a low-level flight were present. He was flying low, so the radars could not track him. The direction the plane was going was eastward towards the Japan.
The MiG-25’s arrival in Japan was a windfall for western military planners. The Japanese government originally only allowed the United States to examine the plane and do ground tests of the radar and engines, but subsequently invited the Americans to examine the plane extensively. It was dismantled for this purpose in Japan.The plane was moved by U.S. transport C-5 Galaxy aircraft from Hakodate to Hyakuri Air Base on September 25, and by this time experts had determined that the plane was an interceptor, not a fighter-bomber, which was a welcome reassurance for Japanese defense.
The diplomatic struggle went on. The official statement of the Japanese was that the plane would be returned to the Soviets but no sooner than Oct. 5, 1976. Due to the fact that samples of materials were taken from the wings the Foxbat could not go back by air.
Belenko’s family was detained and KGB started an investigation. A personal diary in which fuel calculations were carried out was found in Belenko’s flat.
He got a political asylum in the USA, where he started working in an aviation company. Afterwards, in many interviews, like in one for Full Context magazine, he said that the main reason behind the defection was to get away from the communism.
He received American citizenship and opened his own company. He got married to an American woman, with whom he had 3 children. According to Barron’s book his family life in USSR was going towards a bitter end – a divorce – so he fled to the US.
On the opening day (8th June 1989) Mikoyan test pilot Anatoliy Kvochur was making a demonstration flight in the single-seater Mig-29 ‘303’ Blue. During the high-alpha/low-speed pass at 160m (525ft) that was to conclude the Fulcrum’s aerobatic display, the starboard engine surged, belching a sheet of flame. Kvochur immediately selected full afterburner for the working engine; however at 180km/h (111mph) he had insufficient rudder and aileron authority to counter the trust asymmetry and the result was inevitably an irrecoverable departure.
The engine failed at 13hrs 44mins 57sec; the stricken fighter immediately yawed and rolled to starboard, the nose “falling through” until the aircraft entered a vertical dive at 13:45:01. 2.5 seconds later Kvochur ejected at 92m (302ft) after making sure that the aircraft would not hit the spectators. At 13:45:05 the fighter hit the ground beside the runway erupting into a fireball. The pilot landed a mere 30m (98ft) from the wreckage, the ejection seat impacted right next to him.
To give a credit where credit is due, the airport’s rescue & fire-fighting team was on the scene 55 seconds after the crash. Kvochur was rushed to hospital, but was released the same day with nothing worse than bruises and a cut above his right eyebrow from the oxygen mask. Indeed he had been extremely lucky as he had ejected outside the seat’s operating envelope, not to mention the proximity of the fireballs and the falling ejection seat. Yet the incident spoke a lot for the design of the Zvezda K-36DM ejection seat, while the Mig-29 demonstrated its structural integrity by burying its entire forward fuselage, including the cockpit, in the ground before exploding.
The Mig-29 has suffered at least 2 lightning strikes immediately before the accident.
However, examination of the wreckage and the fdr analysis revealed that the starboard engine had been critically damaged by BIRDSTRIKES.
Excerpt from video “Test pilots. Survive in an accident” (Летчики-испытатели. Выжить в катастрофе) , created/produced by Wings of Russia Studio.
Since the creation of the first model in 1909 (The U.S. Army Signal Corps purchased a Wright Model A) , military aviation is rapidly progressing. Incremental improvements are made in many areas, especially powerplants, aerodynamics, structures, weapons, electronic warfare, weather reconnaissance, flying lifeboats….
Today we’re witnessing that some of these planes may be faster than sound.
Here are, some of the fastest military planes of today (some of them are still experimental) :
1. North American X-15
The North American X-15 was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. It could reach a top speed of 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 km/h), or Mach 6.72
2. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force. Maximum speed mach 3.3 (2,200+ mph, 3,540+ km/h, 1,910+ knots)
3. Lockheed YF-12
The Lockheed YF-12 was an American prototype interceptor aircraft evaluated by the United States Air Force. The YF-12 was a twin-seat version of the secret single-seat Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraftThe YF-12 set and held speed and altitude world records of over 2,000 mph and over 80,000 ft (later surpassed by the SR-71), and is the world’s largest manned interceptor to date
4. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-25) (NATO reporting name: Foxbat) is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that was among the fastest military aircraft to enter service. It has an operational top speed of Mach 2.83 (Mach 3.2 is possible but at risk of significant damage to the engines), and features a powerful radar and four air-to-air missiles.
5. Bell X-2
The X-2 was a rocket-powered, swept-wing research aircraft developed jointly in 1945 by Bell Aircraft Corporation, the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to explore aerodynamic problems of supersonic flight and to expand the speed and altitude regimes obtained with the earlier X-1 series of research aircraft. Maximum speed: Mach 3.196 (2,094 mph, 3,370 km/h)
6. North American XB-70 Valkyrie
The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie is the prototype of the B-70 nuclear-armed, deep-penetration strategic bomber for the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. In the late 1950s North American Aviation designed the Valkyrie bomber as a large, six-engined aircraft capable of reaching Mach 3+ while flying at 70,000 feet (21,000 m).
7. Mikoyan MiG-31
The Mikoyan MiG-31 (Russian: Микоян МиГ-31; NATO reporting name: Foxhound) is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed for use by the Soviet Air Forces. The aircraft was designed by the Mikoyan design bureau as a replacement for the earlier MiG-25 “Foxbat”; the MiG-31 is based on, and shares design elements with the MiG-25. The MiG-31 has the distinction of being one of the fastest combat jets in the world. Maximum speed Mach 2.83 (3,000 km/h, 1,860 mp)
8. McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is an American twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) to gain and maintain air supremacy in aerial combat. Maximum speed Mach 2.5+ (1,650+ mph, 2,665+ km/h)
9. General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark
The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark was a supersonic, medium-range interdictor and tactical attack aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic nuclear bomber, aerial reconnaissance, and electronic-warfare aircraft in its various versions. Maximum speed Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph, 2,655 km/h)
10. Sukhoi Su-27
The Sukhoi Su-27 (Russian: Сухой Су-27) (NATO reporting name: Flanker) is a twin-engine supermaneuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi. It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth-generation fighters such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle, with 3,530-kilometre (1,910 nmi) range, heavy aircraft ordnance, sophisticated avionics and high maneuverability. The Su-27 was designed for air superiority missions, and subsequent variants are able to perform almost all aerial warfare operations. It was designed with the Mikoyan MiG-29 as its complement (The role of the MiG-29 is tactical air superiority over the battlefield, engaging NATO fighters and strike aircraft). Maximum speed Mach 2.35 (2,500 km/h, 1,550 mph)