MiG-25 “FOXBAT A / C / E / F” gallery

(Foxbat A image). At the end of the 1950s, the United States’ aerial supremacy was evident with avant-garde high-performance designs such as the Convair B-58 Hustler bomber or the Lockheed U-2 spy plane. The latter had been flying with impunity over Soviet territory for some years at a height that made interception impossible for any Soviet Air Defense aircraft. Logically, this situation had to end, and for this, in mid-1959 the design of a new interceptor began to put an end to this unsustainable situation.
(Foxbat A image). The problems of designing an aircraft to fly at such enormous speed and height were not few, but the MiG design team had already been working years ago on high-performance heavy fighters so they had a lot of experience in this regard. One of the biggest problems was that of the temperatures supported by the materials due to friction. If in an aircraft flying at Mach 2, in an environment of 0ºC, the temperature reached about 107ºC at the nose, in an aircraft flying at Mach 3 the temperature would reach 300ºC, so the materials had to be carefully chosen.
(Foxbat A image). Finally it was decided that most of the airframe (80%) would be built in nickel-steel alloy, with parts in aluminum (11%) and the parts that would suffer higher temperatures would be built with titanium (9%). The ideal thing would have been to build it entirely in titanium, but the difficulty of the work and the cost, made it unfeasible. The location of the turbojets was also debated, finally deciding the assembly of both side by side as the most convenient.
(Foxbat A image). None of the existing turbojets could adapt to the new aircraft, so the Tumansky firm developed the R-15B-300 with afterbuner model. This turbojet was single-shaft with a simple structure, with only 5 compression stages and a relatively low static pressure value. This engine at low speeds has quite poor performance (when the turbines generate most of the air pressure), while at high speeds the performance increases as the air enters the intake diffusers at much higher pressure.
(Foxbat A image). Top speed was limited to Mach 2.83 (3,466 km/h) although it was capable of reaching Mach 3.2 (3,920 km/h), the highest achieved by any fighter-interceptor entered service to date. Cruising speed was established at Mach 2.35 (2,878 km/h) at 19,000 and 21,000 meters altitude, during which partial afterburning was applied. Maximum speed could only be maintained for no more than 5 minutes to avoid overheating damage to the airframe and the engines themselves.
(Foxbat A image). Aerodynamics were also carefully studied by the design team, who configured a longer and thinner big-sweep wing than in previous interceptors. The aircraft was equipped with variable air intakes on the sides of the airframe and with double tail stabilizers for greater stability. Due to the high engines consumption, 70% of the internal aircraft’s volume is destined to fuel tanks, which hold 17,660 liters in total. The aircraft has almost the same range at cruising speed (Mach 2.35 at 20,000 meters) as at low speed (Mach 0.9 at 10,000 meters) due to the design of its engines.
(Foxbat A image). The radar initially installed was the TL-25 Smerch-A (“Fox Fire” NATO codename), the same as the Tu-128 “Fiddler” heavy fighter. This radar could detect targets at 160 km and follow them from about 80 km, but lacked look-down/shoot-down capability, which greatly limited the effectiveness of the MiG-25. The chosen armament were the R-40R and R-40T air-to-air missiles, (AA-6 Acrid according to NATO designation). The R-40R was a semi-active radar guidance missile with 80 km range, while the R-40T had infrared guidance (IR) and has about 50 km in range.
(Foxbat A image). The Ye-155-P1 maiden flight took place on September 9, 1964, with the curiosity that the Ye-155-R1 reconnaissance variant (MiG-25R “Foxbat B”) had flown on the previous March 6. In the West, the new aircraft was known after information from Soviet sources that reported a speed record set in mid-March 1965, but the MiG-25 would not be presented in public until July 1967. At this time three fighters and a reconnaissance aircraft performed a flypast at the Domodedovo air show. The speaker introduced them as “Mach 3 interceptor-fighters”, which instantly caused confusion in the Western media, which first attributed the new aircrafts to Yakovlev or Tupolev and later confused it with the MiG-23.
All doubts of the West regarding the Foxbat were cleared after the defection to Japan of Lt. Viktor Belenko aboard his MiG-25P “Foxbat A” (on the image) on September 6, 1976. The Japanese allowed access to USAF personnel, who dismantled and meticulously analyzed the plane, which after two months was returned disassembled to the Soviets. These immediately ordered the development of a new radar with look-down/shoot-down capability, essential for a good effectiveness of the magnificent MiG-25. That development ended in the N-005 Saphir-25 (RP-25M) pulse-doppler radar, which led to the MiG-25PD variant.
(Foxbat A image).The appearance of the MiG-25 caused concern in the West and the United States began a new program for a high-performance fighter that led to the F-15 Eagle. After studying the aircraft that defected to Japan, in the West they were aware that although the MiG-25 still kept some technologies that were considered as “outdated”, the Soviets had found in them solutions to new problems of extreme temperatures in the materials, demonstrating that the newest is not always the most effective. Furthermore, as a good Soviet, the aircraft was very robust, effective and relatively low cost, 3 factors that were often forgotten in Western developments.
(Ye-155P1 image). The MiG-25 has set 29 altitude and speed records, many of which still remain unbeaten. One of the most spectacular is achieved on March 16, 1965, when the Ye-155 prototype reached an average speed of 2,319 km/h over a 1,000 km circuit. Also noteworthy are the altitude records achieved on June 4, 1973 when a MiG-25 climbed to 20,000 meters in 2 min 49 s, 25,000 meters in 3 min 12 s and 30,000 meters in 4 min 3s. Finally we will point out the absolute altitude record achieved by the Ye-266M prototype, (MiG-25RB re-engined with Tumansky R15BF2-300), on August 31, 1977, when it reached 37,650 meters of altitude under its own power in “zoom climb “mode.
(Foxbat A image).Production began on the MiG-25P “Foxbat A” series model in 1971 and entered service in 1972 with some modifications from the prototype. The standard aircraft did not have canards or winglets and had a smaller tail stabilizer, but its missile capacity was increased from 2 to 4. Due to the weight of the aircraft, a double parachute had to be installed for braking after landing, either some conicals of 60 m2 or some cruciforms of 50 m2.
(Foxbat E image). From 1971 to 1982 about 460 MiG-25P “Foxbat A” were manufactured and were only used by the Soviet V-PVO and the Soviet Air Force. This variant was quickly supplemented with the MiG-25PD “Foxbat E”, which made the maiden flight in November 1977 and entered service in 1979. Of this variant 104 units were manufactured between 1978 and 1984 and was exported to Algeria, Libya, Iraq and Syria.
(Foxbat E image). The MiG-25PD carried the new RP-25M radar and upgraded Tumansky R-15BD-300 engines. It also had greater armament capacity, being able to carry two R-40 missiles plus four short-range R-60 (“AA-8 Aphid” according to NATO designation) missiles. Later an undernose IRST (Infrared search and track) device was installed, giving rise to the MiG-25PDS “Foxbat E” variant. It is noteworthy that from 1979 onwards all MiG-25Ps were modified to the improved PD variant.
(Foxbat F image). In addition to the interception variants, other combat variants were also developed. These include reconnaissance (MiG-25R / RR “Foxbat B”), reconnaissance and bombardment (MiG-25RB / RBV / RBT “Foxbat B”), bombardment (MiG-25RBS / RBSh “Foxbat D”), ELINT and bombardment (MiG-25RBK / RBF “Foxbat D”) and defense suppression (MiG-25BM “Foxbat F”).
(Foxbat F image). The variant MiG-25BM “Foxbat F” specific for SEAD missions (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses), was armed with 4 anti-radiation missiles (ARM) Kh-58 (AS-11 ‘Kilter’) or Kh-31 (AS-17 ‘Krypton’). These missiles had ranges of 120 and 110 km respectively. This aircraft were manufactured between 1982 and 1985 and were only used by the Soviets.
In addition to all combat variants, two conversion training variants were built, the MiG-25PU (on the image) and MiG-25RU “Foxbat C”. These aircraft have separate cockpits for the instructor and the pilot-student and are staggered mounted. The MiG-25PU was intended to train pilots of the interception variants while the MiG-25RU was intended for pilots of the reconnaissance variants. None of these aircraft had combat capability but the RU variant had the MiG-25R‘s navigational equipment installed.
(Foxbat C image). Of these two conversion training variants, some units were exported to Algeria, (which maintains 3 MiG-25PU operational), Bulgaria (1 MiG-25RU), India (2 MiG-25RU), Iraq (7 MiG-25PU), Libya (MiG-25PU & MiG-25RU) and Syria (2 MiG-25PU).
(Foxbat E image). An estimated 1,186 MiG-25s of all variants have been manufactured, some of which remain in service. The Soviet Union/Russia has never used this aircraft in combat, except for two unarmed MiG-25R and two MiG-25RB sent to Egypt in March 1971 and which made about 20 reconnaissance flights over Israel. During these operations, the Israelis watched helplessly as the Foxbats paced back and forth with impunity.
(Foxbat E image). However, other countries have made use of their MiG-25s, such as Syria during the 1982 Lebanon War or more recently in the 2014 Civil War. In 1981, in actions prior to the declared 1982 Lebanon War, Syria claimed the shot down of an Israeli F-15, a fact never officially admitted by the Israelis. Syria received about 25 aircraft of the PD / RB and PU variants and it is likely that currently has 4 operational aircraft.
(Libyan Foxbat E). Algeria also acquired about twenty MiG-25 from the PD / PDS and PU variants. Currently there are 13 PD/PDS and 3 PU aircrafts operational within the Air Force. Libya was the largest user, (after the USSR), with about sixty aircraft of the PD / RBK / PU and RU variants purchased. Currently it is likely that some aircraft remain in service, but their operational capacity is unknown.
(Iraqi Foxbat E). Iraq acquired about forty MiG-25 of the PD / PDS / RB and PU variants and has been the country that has given the most combat use of its Foxbats. They used them quite successfully during the 1980 Iran-Iraq War in which it got at least eight confirmed kills. In addition, they also obtained some other kills against Algerian and Syrian aircraft in the 80s.
(Iraqi Foxbat E). The “MiG-25 + R-40” team proved quite effective once again during the 1991 Gulf War. During the first night of Allied air raids an Iraqi MiG-25 shot down a US Navy’s F/A-18C and on January 30 there is enough evidence to be able to affirm that another Iraqi Foxbat shot down a USAF’s F-15C during the Air Battle of Samurra. It became clear once again that quality weaponry used properly can render valuable service despite not being the latest technological buzzword.
(Iraqi Foxbat E). Remarkable is the performance, again, of another Iraqi MiG-25, which in December 2002 made the first shot down of an UAV in history. In this incident an USAF’s MQ-1 Predator was shot down within Iraqi territory while conducting an armed reconnaissance mission. Following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, numerous MiG-25s were found buried in the desert, but currently Iraq has no operational Foxbat.
(Foxbat E image). After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many of the member states obtained enough MiG-25s that were part of their Air Forces for years. Among all of them Belarus had about 50 Foxbat in service until 1995 and Ukraine obtained about 80 units that were also withdrawn from service some years ago. Of course, the Russian Foxbats were replaced by the more capable MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor since the mid 90s.

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