Russia’s Mig-25 Was Designed to Hunt US Supersonic Bombers That Never Entered Service

The MiG-25 Foxbat was the fastest aircraft of the Soviet Union.
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25RB, Russia - Air Force

The MiG-25 Foxbat’s first flight was more than half a century ago, and it was the pinnacle of aviation for a long time.

It shocked the United States into improving its aircraft and is still remembered for its great speed that has rarely been surpassed by other aircraft, including those of the United States Air Force.

But, it never fulfilled its mission because the aircraft that it was meant to intercept never came into service.

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MiG-25: An aircraft built to fight the US

Микоян-Гуревич МиГ-25
Микоян-Гуревич МиГ-25 by Alex Beltyukov. Licensed under CC by 3.0

The MiG-25 Foxbat is a high-performance fighter jet specifically designed to operate at high altitudes against bombers and cruise missiles.

It was also used for reconnaissance missions and was the fastest military aircraft to enter service in the Soviet Union.

The first prototype of a MiG-25 flew in 1964 and entered service in 1970 with a maximum operational speed of Mach 2.83, which is extremely fast even by today’s standards.

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The MiG-25 was a response to the US B-58 supersonic bomber because the fighter interceptors that the Soviet Union had available at the time weren’t capable of actually dealing with the top US aircraft.

But, the Foxbat was so fast that it could even compete with legendary American aircraft like the Lockheed SR-71, which had a cruise speed of Mach 2.8 and a maximum speed of Mach 3.3.

The second fastest aircraft

The Foxbat was the second-fastest mass-produced aircraft after the SR-71 Blackbird, and soviet engineers used titanium to mass-produce this aircraft, with 1,186 coming off the production lines.

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Russian Air Force MiG 25
MIG by Leonid Faerberg under

Also, it was widely employed by the Soviet Air Force and by a small number of countries allied to the Soviet Union, such as Kazakhstan, Belarus, Iraq, Libya, and Bulgaria.

But, the US managed to access all MiG-25 details when Soviet pilot Victor Belenko defected from the Soviet Union.

Belenko deserted and took one MiG-25 with him to Japan, and US intelligence devoted several weeks of close analysis of the Foxbat, which at the time posed a real threat to the US.

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However, after its complete analysis, American engineers concluded that the MiG-25 had a surprisingly rudimentary technology compared to Western aircraft. Regardless it was a high-speed fighter jet.

In fact, Belenko became an American engineer. When he was interviewed about the MiG-25 reaching a speed of Mach 3.2, he confirmed that the aircraft reached that speed despite the fact that the MiG-25’s engines overheated to the extent that they were almost entirely blown out during the flight.

MiG-25 specs

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 by Kaboldy. Licensed under CC by 3.0

The Foxbat has quite particular characteristics and a design rarely seen. 

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The Soviets managed to give this aircraft an unprecedented speed in Russian aviation. Although the speed of the MiG-25 couldn’t be maintained for a long time, the engine could explode at maximum speed.

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 23.82 meters (78 ft 2 inches)
  • Height: 6.1 meters (20 feet)
  • Gross weight: 36,720 kilograms (80,954 pounds)
  • Maximum speed: 3,000 km/h (1,900 mph) Mach 2.83
  • Range: 1,860 km (1,160 miles)
  • Service ceiling: 20,700 meters (67,900 feet)

The MiG-25 was Russia’s fastest fighter jet

The MiG-25  was a remarkably fast aircraft that was conceived to stop American bombers and even rival the Blackbird… but it never achieved its goal, and despite having significant recognition, its technology was outdated by 1970s standards.

That’s why the Foxbat, in the end, wasn’t a significant threat to the US. But it will be remembered as one of the fastest aircraft in history – and even several decades after its entry into service, it is still used by some of the world’s air forces.

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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25RB, Russia – Air Force by Alex Beltyukov. Licensed under CC by 3.0