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Talk:Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25

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North Korean Mig-25s?[edit]

The map in the operators section depicts North korea as a former operator of mig-25s. However north korea is not mentioned in the rest of the article. Why? (talk) 16:23, 17 March 2023 (UTC)[reply]

"Inaccurate intelligence analysis caused the West initially to believe the MiG-25 was an agile air-combat fighter rather than an interceptor..."[edit]

The idea that US intelligence confused MiG-25 with an agile fighter seems to be an urban legend.

Source #1: This paper released in August of 1976(so before Viktor Belenko's defection) describes the MiG-25 as follows: "The MiG-25, under the designation of E-266, was setting speed records as early as 1965. It, like the MiG-23, was first displayed in 1967. It is a twin-engine, allweather, cropped delta-wing interceptor and reconnaissance plane. The two huge rectangular intake boxes on both sides of the fuselage and the twin-tail fins makes the FOXBAT easy to identify. Its two Tumansky turbojets rated at 24,000 lbs. each gives the MiG-25 atop speed of Mach 3.2 at high altitude. It has a service ceiling of 80,000 ft. and a combat radius of 700 miles." (page 205)

So not only did the US intelligence properly identify the MiG-25's role(which had nothing to do with agility), it even had mostly accurate information about its top speed, service ceiling and combat radius.

Source #2: This paper released even earlier, in March of 1976, contains the following paragraph: "Expressed in other words, aerial combat capability depends on both the potential energy of the system and its maneuverability. It is clear that Snider's variables relate only to energy factors with no regard to maneuverability factors. Hence, the systems which score highest are brute-force aircraft such as the MIG-25 FOXBAT, while less powerful, more maneuverable systems such as the F-16 have a lower scale value. However, most military commentators would not accept the conclusion that the F-16 is inferior to the MIG-25 in air-to-air combat capability." (page 40)

This is further supplemented by Table C on page 143 which attempts to rate aircraft by weighing different performance values. MiG-25 is the clear winner if only Factor II(top speed, service ceiling, thrust-to-weight ratio) is considered, but falls down to the bottom when only Factor I(thrust-to-weight, wing loading, gun barrels) is considered. Again, the MiG-25s role as fast interceptor - and hopeless dogfighter - seems to be already well known at that time.

On a side note, a plane in delta wing configuration cannot be agile by definition, unless canards and/or thrust vectoring are also used. That's not even a matter of intelligence gathering, it's basic aeronautics. (talk) 17:17, 2 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]

I think there is a problem of timing with your sources. After all, the F-15 was developed, in part, to counter what was feared to be a highly maneuverable fighter in the MiG-25, and the F-15 was already flying by 1972 and in service by 1976. Therefore, 1976 intelligence reports are far too late to be what we are looking for in impacting the F-X program and the F-15 design/development. Remember, the Soviets unveiled the MiG-25 to the world in 1967; western intelligence agencies would therefore have looked into this long before 1976. Furthermore, a plane with a delta wing is not, "by definition," lacking in agility just because they lack canards or thrust vectoring. The F-15 has a modified delta wing, and is quite agile. The MiG-21 is a straight up delta wing and is quite agile (as pilots of the F-4 learned). The issue isn't the delta wing, rather, its wing loading, which in 1967 the west would not have known with any precision for the MiG-25. It wasn't normal for fighters to be made of heavy steel instead of lighter materials like aluminum. The large wings of the MiG-25 suggested a low wing-loading, but the steel meant that it actually had a high wing-loading. --OuroborosCobra (talk) 18:51, 2 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I think the major problem is the issue of the MiG-25 being believed to be a "highly maneuverable fighter" which there is really no primary source evidence for whatsoever.
The core tenet of Wikipedia is verifiability, and there is no good evidence for such an impression existing with DoD intelligence. All research I have done, and every document I've read that is either a serious historical account of the F-X program or actual primary source documents either from the USAF or other intelligence agencies point to us knowing about
  1. The advanced RADAR and electronic suite of the Foxbat, and
  2. The high speed of the MiG-25.
Everything else I've seen points to our experiences in Vietnam and various structural, doctrinal, and leadership changes within the USAF around the same time having far more to do with the F-X program's requirements. Here are several documents from the CIA discussing the MiG-25 before and after the August 1967 airshow, and an extensive history of the USAF in the period, including a thorough history of the F-15/F-X program written by a USAF historian:
https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/nie_11_3_65.pdf - Page 7, sections 14 & 15, two years before the airshow that is commonly said to have "shocked the west"
https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000278486.pdf - Page 8 specifically discusses the Foxbat by name
https://etd.auburn.edu/bitstream/handle/10415/595/MICHEL_III_55.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y - Page 88 Makes mention of the MiG-25 influencing capabilities of the F-X program in 1968 insofar as its high-speed/high-altitude flight performance was concerned, but makes no mention of manuverability. Rsemmes92 (talk) 14:37, 7 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
There are cited sources about this in our article on the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, but they are books that I do not have access to. It would be good to check those. It is also worth remembering that Wikipedia policies strongly advocate using secondary sources. Primary sources can be difficult, especially when we don't specifically know what they are referring to. While it may seem "obvious" to us that they are referring to the MiG-25 in your first source; they do not even name MiG as the designer of these fighters. It could be incorrect intelligence assessments on the MiG-23, the MiG Ye-152, the canceled developments of the Tupolev Tu-28 like the Tu-138, etc. A secondary source analyzing this document with knowledge of the time could tell us if what the CIA was thinking about was actually the MiG-25, and whether or not they thought it was maneuverable. That seems to have been left off of that document altogether, with no discussion of MiG-17 or MiG-21 maneuverability (possibly because, in 1965, US military thinking was still in the "missile only, no dogfights, no guns" thinking that did not do so well in Vietnam in the following years). There is a similar problem with your second source also not discussing issues of maneuverability one way or the other, and seemingly not mentioning either the MiG-21 that was well known by the time of its publication or the MiG-23 at all, odd since it does mention the MiG-17. Your last source is more of a secondary source, but it specifically mentions the MiG-25 on the list of aircraft that influenced the push for the highly-maneuverable "Blue Bird" design for the F-X program (I think you missed the context on page 87). --OuroborosCobra (talk) 16:20, 8 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
In regards to the last part of your post, that's simply not true.
"At the same time, the Air Force had its own Studies and Analysis group, AF/SA, and its head, General Glen Kent, brief the Air Staff on possible modifications to the F-X program to make it lighter and less complex while still keeping it the basic F-X.73 But OSD/SA and AF/SA theory collided with a real world requirement as the Soviets began to field the MiG-25 ìFoxbatî fighter, whose Mach 2+ speed and 60,000-foot altitude capabilities put it out of the performance envelope of the Red Bird and a downgraded F-X, so the idea of a less capable F-X disappeared."
The "Blue Bird" simply isn't mentioned on page 87. Rsemmes92 (talk) 13:54, 9 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
My apologies, I was going by PDF page 88 and 87, with PDF page 88 coincidentally also mentioning the MiG-25 Foxbat by name, so I thought that was what you were referring to. Starting on PDF page 87, document page 76, is the section on "Blue Bird," which by name includes the MiG-25 (on document page 77) as one of the reasons for the push for the Blue Bird concept. It even lists the famous 1967 airshow. --OuroborosCobra (talk) 15:35, 9 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I'm waiting on a FOIA for the official (still classified) USAF history of the F-15, hopefully this can be cleared up. Rsemmes92 (talk) 17:49, 9 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Very cool! I would love to read that if you can get it. --OuroborosCobra (talk) 18:05, 9 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@Rsemmes92 Two months on, I'm guessing it was denied or hasn't been answered? --OuroborosCobra (talk) 17:03, 7 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
They're taking their time approving it. Rsemmes92 (talk) 18:03, 7 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Here's the document - The document catalog the USAF had was outdated and this was declassified in 2008. Rsemmes92 (talk) 15:13, 27 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]