Was the Mig-25 Foxbat and the upgrade Mig-31 Foxhound capable of
intercepting an SR-71? This question comes up regularly at SR-71 symposiums
and Blackbird speaker events throughout the U.S. To put to rest this question
is the purpose of this web page. During
the cold War the Russians were highly concerned about the United State's XB-70 supersonic bomber project. In response, they built the Mig-25 which
was designed to be a Mach 2.8 Interceptor for countering air targets
in all weather conditions, by day and by night and in dense hostile
electronic warfare environments. This was the USSR's answer to the design
in the US of fast, high flying aircraft as the XB-70, North American F-108
and Lockheed SR-71. The MiG-25 lacked technological refinement, but its
performance caused much concern in the west. It was designed to function
both as a long- range interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft. The center
fuselage is a big, welded steel fuel tank, so avionics, radar or cameras
are in the nose. Speed is limited to Mach 2.83 mainly by controllability
problems. The MiG-25 is a twin-finned high-wing monoplane with slightly
swept wings and a variable angle tail plane. To improve the aircraft's
longitudinal stability and to avert stall at steep angles and subsonic speed,
there are two shallow upper surface fences on each wing. The high-wing
monoplane configuration together with lateral air intakes both have
the effect of reducing the loss of aerodynamic efficiency resulting from
wing-fuselage interference. The aircraft is powered by two 11200kg
Tumansky R-15D-300 single shaft turbojets, arranged
in the tail section of the fuselage. The engines develop 11,200 kgf of thrust
with fully selected afterburner. The engines provide a maximum
speed of 3,000 km/hour at high altitude. The maximum speed at
low altitude is 1,200 km/hour. The aircraft has a service ceiling
of 22,500 meters. The range at altitudes between 9 and 11 km with
speed of Mach 0.85 is 1,950 km. At higher altitudes between20 and
21 km and speed Mach 2.35, the range is 1,650 km. The maximum in-service
g-load is 4.5g's.There are two-seat trainer versions of both the
fighter and the reconnaissance version. Production of the fighter ended
in 1983. The MiG-25 saw combat in several wars in the Middle East.
Over 1200 have been built, of which about 75% were interceptors. The
MiG-25 was produced by MAPO-MiG, the Moscow Aircraft Production
Organisation MiG, which is based in Moscow and the Sokol Aircraft
Manufacturing Plant Joint Stock Company at Nizhni Novgorod in Russia.
In search of Freedom, on September 06, 1976 Lt. Viktor Ivanovich Belenko piloted his Mig-25 (USSR Product #84) from the 513th Fighter Regiment at the Siberian Base of Sakharovka, Soviet Air Defense Command and defected to the United States. He landing the Mig-25 in Japan under adverse weather conditions. No Westerner had ever been close to a Mig-25 and much about the aircraft were unknown. It was the one plane most feared in the West. In 1973, US. Air Force Secretary Robert C. Seamans deemed the Mig-25 as "Probably the best interceptor in production in the world today". In 1967 a stripped down Mig-25 set a world record by achieving a speed of 1,852 MPH and another aircraft set the altitude record by soaring to 118,898 feet. Lt Viktor Belenko with very low fuel landed his Mig-25 at Hakodate Airport in northern Japan, running off the end of the short runway. His defection to the West gave the United States the opportunity to closely examine the Mig-25. The aircraft was completely dismantled and then carefully inspected by aviation scientists and engineers from both Japan and the United States. President Ford granted Belenko asylum in the United States and the pilot underwent five months of questioning and interrogation. The United States Government established a Trust Fund for him and the interest alone afforded Belenko very comfortable living in the U.S. He was a free man, at last, to do as he pleased.
Upon dismantling the Mig-25, the data was analyzed by the Foreign Technology Division of the Air Force at Dayton, Ohio. There were many surprises:
The Intercept probability by a Mig 25 Foxbat
The Mig-31 Foxhound
(Photo by Mikhail Poutnikov)
The MiG-31 was born as an upgraded MiG-25. Unlike it's predecessor, the MiG-31 has some very modern characteristics. It is the first fighter aircraft with an onboard phased array radar. This allows the MiG-31 to act as both a fighter as well as a director aircraft. With a sophisticated digital link system the MiG-31 can coordinate other fighters in an attack force making the MiG-31 the only combination fighter/director in the world. The crew consists of 1 pilot and 1 weapons systems officer. First produced in 1975, about 500 Foxhounds are currently in service.
Editors Note: I will leave the reader to draw their own conclusion as to whether or not a Mig-25 or a Mig-31 could have intercepted an SR-71. In my biased opinion it would be: "Highly Unlikely". The following facts are true:
1. A Mig-25 or Mig-31 has never fired a missile at an SR-71.
2. SR-71 Pilots state that the Mig-25/31 never posed a serious threat to their aircraft.
3. The Mig-25 can only sustain Mach 2.8 for a short duration due to engine overheat.
4. The Mig-25 can only sustain an altitude of 78,740 feet for two minutes maximum.
5. In 1973, Kelly Johnson, designer of the SR-71 Blackbird, stated that the Mig-25 Foxbat has the inherent capability to outperform the SR only in maneuverability. However, he stated, it would be the missile and not the aircraft that would require the maneuverability to intercept a Blackbird.
6. The SR-71 routinely cruised at Mach 3.2 in continuous afterburner at 80-85,000 feet. The speed and altitude of an SR-71 coupled with superior Defensive electronics has prevented any intended intercept of the Blackbird either by land based missiles or airborne Interceptor threats.
7. Almost all SR-71 Blackbird Reconnaissance Aircraft are now in Museums throughout the United States, having flown for 32 years with the distinction of being the "The highest flying and fastest air breathing aircraft in the world".
SR-71 Front Page Links Page Index Page Recollections 2001 Reunion "SR-71 Blackbirds" Web Site Navigator First Created: April 15, 1996 - Last Revised: March 29, 2004 Copyright © 1996 Leland R. Haynes Email: email@example.com
Original publish date December 29, 2000. Revised March 29, 2004
Page #55 of the "SR-71 Blackbirds"