OCTOBER 8-12, 1976

On 9 Oct, the Soviet Union officially informed the Japanese Government that it was ready to receive the MiG-25.  Working level talks were scheduled to begin on 12 Oct to discuss technical matters related to the transfer of the MiG plane.  As concerns Japanese demands that the Soviet Union make compensation for damage to Hakodate Airport and coast of transferring the aircraft to the port of Hitachi, the Soviets only remarked that their country had differing views on the matter.

The Japanese were still criticizing the Soviet approach to the MiG-25 incident and particularly the cool reception which Japanese Foreign Minister Kosaka received from Gromyko at the UN, where Kosaka did not even receive a drink of water.

As another repercussion of the MiG-25 incident, the Soviet Union cancelled its entry of three aircraft in the 1976 International Air Show scheduled to be opened on 16 October at the ASDF Iruma AB.  The Soviet were to have displayed the Yak-40, Mi-8 and Ka-26.

The Japan Defense Agency announced that data obtained from inspection of the aircraft would be kept secret.  It was explained that to prevent any security leaks, civilian engineers were not used in examination of the aircraft.  However, JDA stated that the US has already been informed that if requests for data are made by the US, it will adopt a cooperative attitude from the viewpoint of the Japan-US security treaty.  However, the agency will not freely present data to the US, but rather request reciprocal information obtained by US forces in exchange.

Preparations have already started for return of the aircraft.

On 12 Oct., there appeared an article by Ernest Volkman of Newsday who presented the following information apparently obtained from Pentagon sources:

While the MiG-25 is the world’s fastest combat warplane, it is not the best interceptor fighter.  US fighters equal and in many areas, surpass the Soviet aircraft.  As a reconnaissance aircraft, the MiG-25 is clearly inferior to the USAF SR-71

In studying the MiG-25, the following difference in US and Soviet technology were found:

Body design: The Soviets have not yet mastered the use of special new lightweight alloys for high-speed aircraft.

Electronics: The Soviet on-board computers and radar are not so sophisticated as American designs.  In particular, the MiG-25 lacks a good “look-down” radar.

Missiles: The Soviet ACRID AAM have only a range of 80 miles and are thus inferior to US equivalents such as the PHOENIX which has an effective range of 135 miles

Engine design:  US and Soviet technology appears to have even including the use of special devices to handle fuel when thinned at maximum speeds, but the MiG-25 engine does not have as good acceleration and also must work harder because of the extra weight.

In summation, although the MiG-25 can operate at 85,000 feet, which is 13,000 feet over the F-15, this is not so important in comparison to who will spot who first and who gets the first shot off.

OCTOBER 13-14, 1976

The return of the MiG-25 will be delayed.  Since three days advance notice are required for technical reasons prior to delivery and the Soviet Union failed to give notice on Wednesday 13 Oct., this makes delivery impossible on Friday.  In negotiations between the Soviet Union and Japan, agreement was reached that the aircraft would be carried back by ship.  The Soviet Union however, still has made no commitment regarding Japan’s demands for compensation and the Foreign Ministry of Japan anticipated that this question would remain unsolved even after delivery of the MiG-25.  The aircraft was expected to be delivered at the port of Hitachi in Ibaraki Prefecture.

On the 13th, the Japanese Government explained its position on US cooperation in the MiG-25 affair to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Diet Lower House.  SDF regulations state that acts of military force and operations requiring  secrecy are the inherent responsibility of the SDF and assistance from foreign military forces cannot be received.  Therefore US cooperation concerning the MiG-25 was conducted under the direct command of the SDF and was separate from the US military command structure.  Details learned wee exclusively the property of the SDF and expenses incurred for instruments and personnel were borne by Japan.  The nature of US assistance was the borrowing of instruments which the SDF did not have and the required personnel for operating them.  The US experts did not participate as representatives of the US military.  This understanding was reached between Chief of Air Staff TSUNODA and Commander, US Forces Japan Galligan.

During the committee meeting, the number of US participants was also clarified:

  1. 11 men at Hakodate for dismantling of the aircraft and preparations for transport.
  • 15 men – C-5 Galaxy personnel for transport from Hakodate to Hyakuri AB.
  • About 25 men for investigation at Hyakuri AB.

OCTOBER 15, 1976

Takashi MARURAMA Vice Director General of the Defense Agency, informed Governor Fujio Takeuchi of Ibaraki Prefecture on 14 October that the Soviet Union had agreed to take back the MiG-25.  The date for the delivery to the Port of Hitachi has not yet been decided.  However, the Governor requested that his office be informed at least 5 or 6 days beforehand and that details regarding that route of transportation be transmitted to officials of the local governments concerned.

Also, Air Force Secretary Reed, speaking to Japanese reporters at the Pentagon, said that Lt. Belenko was somewhere in Washington, hinting he was under the custody of US authorities.

OCTOBER 16, 1976

The following is the gist of a detailed article on the MiG-25 incident which appeared in the Evening edition of the Asahi Newspaper:

“That aircraft is worth about 8,000,000 pyb (¥ 3,000,000,000).  Please take care of it,” the Soviet Air Force Lt. Victor Ivanovitch Belenko, who crossed over the Japan Sea from Sakharovka AB in Siberia and defected at Hakodate, laughingly said to an ASDF officer who interviewed him.  Or military intelligence people of the West, who for 10 years have been eager to find out even a little about the true nature of the world’s fastest fighter the MiG-25, no doubt the value of the new MiG-25 flown over by Lt. Belenko was incalculable in gold.

From the 25th of September up to the 3d of October, 110 ASDF technicians and 15 US Air Force experts on Soviet aircraft examined the fuselage, engine and electronic equipment as much as possible.  At the present, the technicians are at the level of consolidating results and have not made any formal reports.  Data obtained will be analyzed, a mock-up built and wind tunnel tests conducted.  Final details regarding the MiG-25 will probably not be known until next year. 

Concerning the aircraft, it was noted that a grinder had not been used on welding marks, thereby leaving a rough surface.  There were fewer instruments in the pilot’s seat than the F-4EJ which has 25.  For example, there were only 3 engine-related instruments in contrast to 10 in the Phantom.  Speedometer and Mach gauge were separate in the MiG-25 whereas these instruments normally are one in aircraft of the West

Of special interest was the large engine.  The MiG-25 has 2 turbo-jet engines placed horizontally in the fuselage.  These are 3.4-m wide and about 6-m long (somewhat longer than the Phantom J-79 engine which is 5.3-m).  The diameter of the air intake is about 1-m.  There is a 1.5-m gas escape outlet (compared to the 1-m outlet of the J-79).  The compressor which is 1-m long and has 5 stages is a simple structure compared to the 17-stage J-79.

There is an automatic variable ramp for increasing/decreasing air inflow volume and speed in the duct leading from the air-intake to the engine and there is an intricately designed shock wave generation device attached.  The afterburner is decidedly large and the major part of thrust comes from the afterburner.

Engine thrust tests were conducted by attaching wire rope to the MiG-25 and stretching measuring instruments over it.  It seems that the heretofore believed 11-ton thrust is correct, but this is not very amazing compared to the 11.34-ton thrust of the FL00PW100 in the F-15.

The engine was confirmed as Tumansky make.  The true value of the engine appears demonstrated at high altitude and high speed.  Although an analysis of data obtained must be awaited, it appears that the fuel consumption ratio by altitude and speed is much greater than estimated.  It would seem that in flying from Siberia to Tokyo at an economical speed and altitude with little air resistance, return would be stretching it.  The engine has a built-in starter and is comparatively easier to employ than those of Western-make.

The length of the front edge of the main wing is 6.9-m.  Aircraft weight, which previously had been presumed to be 15.4-tons, is in reality over 2—tons.  The MiG-25 partially uses titanium on the front edges of the wings, etc., but only to about the same extend as the Phantom.  The outer plate of the wings and fuselage for the most part is rather thick nickel steel plate.  The sandwich-honeycomb thin metal plate or carbon resin material used in the West is not employed in the MiG-25.  This does not necessarily mean that the technology is outdated because the MiG-25 was first sighted in the early 60s.  The American B-70 bomber of the same period also is largely constructed of stainless steel honeycomb. The structure of the MiG-25 probably is derived from considerations of mass production.

On top of the main wing, there is only 1 rectifier plate.  There is an integral tank where fuel enters directly into the wing.  There are also 3 or 4 fuel tanks in the fuselage behind the pilot seat.  Although Lt. Belenko was first doubted when he started that the aircraft carried 14-tons of fuel, no man believe it is so.

In the West, there are drop tanks beneath the wings, but in the MiG-25 there is no fuel piping under the wings.  Perhaps one is attached under the fuselage.

The wheel size diameter is 1.2-m (Phantom = 70-cm in diameter).  In addition to the main wheels, the front wheel also has an anti-skid brake to prevent slips.  Also there is an automatic drag chute for landing – a safety device for the Soviet frozen runways in winter.

American reports of no pilot ejection seat are false.

The double vertical tail wings are for direction stability and have been enlarge from earlier models.  Contrary to what Americans has thought at one time, it is now believed that the controllability of the MiG-25 is not good.  A light body and large wings – that is, low body weight per square meter of wing surface area (wing loading) generally enables small turns.  With a full load of fuel and 4 missiles, the body weight of the MiG-25 is about 35 on.  This makes the wing surface leading weight over 600-kg or nearly twice that of the F-15.

MiG-25 thrust is 60% of the body weight (compared to the F-15 whose thrust is over 20% above the body weight).  Thus, in close fighting at low altitudes it is doubtful where the MiG-25 could even beat the Phantom.

In contrast to weapons made by companies of the free world which are made multi-purpose for greater sale, the MiG-25 armament is limited to what is required.  A F-15 made in Japan would cost ¥ 6,000,000,000.  A MiG-25 is said to coast 5,000,000 pyb (¥2,000,000,000).  The Soviet pricing system is different from Japan’s, but this would be about the same or below the Phantom (¥3,000,000,000).  Soviet use high grade materials as little as possible and employ a traditionally simple design which even inexperienced workers can build.  Also, a cheap unit cast for weapons is indispensable for the Soviet.

Viewed in the light of the above information, the landing of the MiG-25 at Hakodate has presented not only a jewel box of military information, but also gives a sample of Soviet society, hinting at military concepts, technology, industrial standards, economics and even national character.

Criticism of the MiG-25 for using vacuum tubes is improper because even today there is much brand new equipment which used them.  For example, the APQ-120 new radar fire control system in the Phantom used vacuum tubes.  The opinion of experts who investigated the MiG-25 is that the electronics systems are considerably advanced.

The diameter of the radar antenna in the nose cone is about 85-cm (that of the Phantom = 70-cm)  and from outward appearance it seems to be the newest type of phase array radar.  It is presumed that detection range is about the same as the Phantom APQ-120.   It seems that a new system is used where radar information is processed by computer and expressed on a round scope in the pilot’s seat by symbols such as arrow to indicate enemy position, direction and speed.  However, “look down capability” for discovering a target at lower altitude than oneself is low.

The electronics instruments are fit tightly in the fuselage width of about 1.6-m in from of the pilot’s seat and are not fit in separate boxes by system like those of American manufacture.  Thus, maintenance must be rather bothersome. There are electronics instruments behind the pilot’s seat, but these appear to be communications equipment.

It appears that the antennas on the top edge of the right vertical tail wing and the edge of the main wing are for sensing the electronic waves of enemy aircraft radar and are to give warning of irradiation.

A difference in the aircraft is that there are 2 types of electronic waves but out by the aircraft, 1 for normal times and 1 for combat time.  This can be switched from the pilot’s seat.

The MiG-25 has only f air-to-air missiles under its wings and no machine gun. This is because the MiG-25 was built aiming at fighting against bombers fir air defense.

The MiG-25 which landed in Japan was undergoing training and therefore, did not have missiles, but NATO has assigned the name ANAB to the missile used.  Length is about 4-m and firing range is considered about 40-km. Also, since the MiG-25 is an interceptor, it does not have any bomb sight equipment.

It is natural that the MiG-25 is used exclusively for air defense since it is a plane of the “Air Defense Force.”  Soviet military forces are divided into 5 forces: Strategic Rocket Force, Ground Force, Air Defense Force, Air Force and Naval Force.  The Air Defense Force handles air defense fighters, ground to air missiles, and anti-aircraft radar.  The Soviet Officers Manual states the duty for the Air Defense Force is “To defend from enemy air attack military targets as well as economic and political centers.

The present organization of the air Defense Force was formed in 1956.  Commanded for 10 years by Gen. Pavel Fedorovich Vashchitsky (66), troop strength is 550,000 men or 12 times that of the Air Force.  Among the Soviet total of 9,000 operational aircraft, it has 2,650 aircraft, radar at 5,000 sites, and 1,000 missile sites with about 10,000 missile launchers.

The MiG-25, along with the Su-15, is the newest aircraft of the Air Defense Force.  It was designed by a team headed by Artem I. Mikoyan (younger brother of former Deputy Premier Mikoyan) to counter the B-70.

Monthly production is 2 to 3 aircraft per month and in the 10-year period, about 200 aircraft estimated to have been produced.  The MiG-25 is assigned to only one site in the Far East: one flight squadron (12 aircraft and about 2 reserve at Sakharovka east of Vladivostok, where it’s major aim is to check photography over Vladivostok by the 2 to 3 SR-71 the US had based on Okinawa.

There is also a Reconnaissance version with one flight squadron in the Far East based on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal.


On the 18th, the Foreign Ministry clarified a problem point in the return of the MiG-25.  The Soviets desire to bring three experts into the country around the 8th to investigate the state of damage to the aircraft prior to its return.  This has delayed the return.  The Japanese view this request as a desire by the Soviets to enter Hyakuri AB.  They will not permit entry of the experts unless there is agreement to place and method of inspection.