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Old 13th June 2015, 23:14   #1
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Default Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force

MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force

This is the story of the fastest, highest flying aircraft to ever don the tri-colour roundel of the Indian Air Force (IAF). It is dedicated to the men of Nos 102 Squadron 'Trisonics' who flew and maintained these big beautiful birds.

To know your opponent well is the first step in knowing where and how to defend yourself. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has maintained a stream of reconnaissance aircraft since World War II to look deep into enemy territory and record matters of interest. The foremost of these reconnaissance aircraft was the beautiful, powerful and impressive MiG-25RB known to NATO as the 'Foxbat' and christened 'Garuda' in IAF service. This photo essay is on the MiG-25 in the IAF and does not cover all the variants the Soviets built. The aircraft is variously referred to as either Foxbat or MiG-25 in this narration.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-1-opening.jpg
MiG-25RB in IAF colours. R for reconnaissance, B for bomber. Protected our borders by watching over our opponents. Speed and altitude made it necessary for the pilots to wear a pressure suit. Photo source Bharat Rakshak; Copyright IAF

MiG-25 Foxbat: The MiG-25 entered service with the IAF in 1981. We bought the reconnaissance version which was a very high altitude, fast flying aircraft capable of flying over enemy territory too fast and too high to be shot down by anything our neighbours to the north or west had. The version we had was the MiG-25RB for reconnaissance and the two seat MiG-25U for conversion training. In their 25 year career with the IAF the MiG-25's flew several top secret reconnaissance missions over hostile territory of our two unfriendly neighbours with impunity taking countless high definition photographs, radar images of the situation on the ground and in addition recorded interesting electronic emissions from the other side of the fence. The interceptors and SAMs (Surface to Air Missile) our opponents possessed could not catch it or reach it. The Mig-25 was not a traditional dogfight interceptor. It was more of a missile with a man in it. The word or name MiG comes from the surnames of the designers Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich who were the brains trust behind the MiG design bureau that bore their name.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-2-speed-1.jpg
A MiG-25 could cruise at 2500 kmph non-stop at altitudes of ~65,000' (20 kms). By the time an enemy missile could get up as high as a Mig-25 the aircraft would be 50 to 100 kms away almost always beyond the range of the missile. Photo source Bharat Rakshak; Copyright IAF

Speed: How fast did the Foxbat go - Mach 2.83 was the top speed on reconnaissance missions at high altitude i.e. ~3000 kmph. Momentarily in clean condition and with a partial fuel weight the reconnaissance aircraft could touch Mach 3.0. Its top speed recorded, officially at least once, is Mach 3.2 or ~3400 kmph. Mach 1.0 is the speed of sound - 1225 kmph at sea level, 1062 kmph at 60,000' altitude. Several supersonic fighters can get to Mach 2.0 like the MiG-21 or Sukhoi Su-30 but can sustain that speed only for short durations. The MiG-25 on the other hand could, when needed, sustain Mach 2.5 (~2700 kmph) for an entire reconnaissance mission while over hostile territory. Therein lay the difference - the MiG-25's sustained speed was equal to or above the dash speed of all other fighters of whichever make or country - this was true in 1970 and is still true today.

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At its maximum sustained speed the Foxbat clocked 50 kms/minute sustained. The leading edges of the wings would heat up to 300 degrees centigrade. Photo of a Soviet Foxbat beginning to accelerate with afterburners switched on.

How fast is fast: At 3000 kmph you are travelling at 833 metres/second which is akin to the speed of a bullet from a high powered rifle or the speed of a shell from a powerful naval gun. Once in 1972 a Russian pilot flying his MiG-25 was on a reconnaissance mission over Israel flying across from Syria to Egypt a distance of roughly 600 kms. He was threatened by missiles fired from Israeli F-4 Phantoms. The Phantoms could not reach any where close to the altitude of the MiG so they fired off their Sparrow radar guided missiles but the Russian simply pushed the throttle to full afterburners and out ran the missiles. The Israeli radars tracked him flying at Mach 3.2 i.e. 3400 kmph some of the way across the Sinai from Syria to Egypt . The overload of flying the aircraft at Mach 3.2 for a several minutes continuously damaged his engines beyond economical repair but set the practical boundries of how far and fast a MiG-25 could go. On a subsequent occasion, a short while later, the Israelis were more prepared and approached another MiG-25, photographing their positions, from head on instead of the near impossible tail chase. The Israeli F-4 Phantoms fired their Sparrow missiles upwards onto the incoming but much higher MiG-25. Aircraft and missile were closing in on each other at a relative speed of over 5500 kmph. The Sparrow missiles radar and guidance computers could not cope with this high a closing speed and failed to lock on to the MiG-25. This was a new phenomena for aircraft and missile designers world over to ponder over.

There is some amount of contradicting data on the web about the Foxbat's speed - some bombastic, some Western sources deliberately playing down the aircraft and some plain incorrect. So after re-reading my 1996 edition of Brassey's World Aircraft Directory the as close to authentic data (that I can lay my hands on) for speed at 42,000' is:-

Never exceed top speed: Mach 3.2 ~ 3400 kmph
Normal top speed: Mach 2.83 ~3000 kmph
Sustained top speed: Mach 2.5 ~ 2650 kmph
Recce mission cruise speed: Mach 2.35 ~ 2500 kmph

……….You read right that is the cruise speed of 2500 kmph i.e. 694 meters per second. And the MiG-25 could sustain that for over 1000 nautical miles (1852 kms) ie fly from Delhi to Bangalore at 2500 kmph on internal fuel alone! Fighter aircraft speed is defined by Mach numbers and not kmph as how many kmph's a Mach number represents reduces with altitude. Hence the kmph figures above may vary a little from source to source depending on what altitude the source assumes. Unfortunately I do not have Yefim Gordon's definitive directory on the MiG-25 published after the cold war.

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At 80,000 to 85,000 feet you can see the curvature of the earth. The sky looks navy blue-grey instead of light blue due to the scarcity of water vapour. A Foxbat could climb to 65,000' and reach a speed of 2500 kmph in 6.5 minutes from a standing start. Interesting fact - at 65,000' air pressure is 17 times lower than at sea level.

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One of the first photos of a MiG-25 to be made public and till mid-1970s the only one that appeared in books adding to the mystique of the aircraft. A Soviet Mig-25 photographed by a NATO fighter over the northern Artic waters. The MiG-25 had an initial rate of climb of ~208 metres/second when loaded clean which would have been the normal configuration of the IAF machines. A clean weight means loaded with everything that goes inside the airframe (fuel, pilot, bombs carried internally, gun ammo etc) but without anything hanging from the pylons (bombs, missiles or fuel typically)

How high could a MiG-25 go: How high did the Foxbat go…….the short answer is high enough to view the curvature of the earth. The aircraft's typical recce mission cruise altitude was 65,000' to 80,000'(~24 kms). It could go higher as you would like to leave climb and maneuver room above you to engineer an escape if it were ever needed; 88,000' (~26 kms) was the usually accepted combat altitude by Western analysts. As civilians we will never know. These educated guesses should be viewed in light of the fact that in 1973 the MiG-25 set a FAI recognized world record of altitude to which a 1000 kg payload is carried - 115,580' (35,230 metres).

How high is high: Combat altitude is the one upto which an aircraft can maneuver, still climb at a very slow rate, roll, take a turn etc. Aircraft especially nimble ones like a fighter can usually zoom climb in a ballistic trajectory to still higher altitudes and hold on there momentarily. Alexander Fedotov the Chief Test Pilot of the MiG Bureau set an absolute world record of 123,520' (37,650 metres), in 1977, for a jet turbine aircraft taking off and climbing on its own engines. The record remains unbroken. He used a lightened and souped up version of the MiG-25RB that our IAF used.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-6-design.jpg
Line drawing of the interceptor variant with missiles. The IAF aircraft being designed for reconnaissance did not have the missiles or the underwing pylons. This saved weight and drag. Drawing source - Wings Palette

Design: The MiG-25 designer faced considerable aerodynamic challenges in designing the external configuration of the aircraft. The most significant problem was selecting a configuration that provided adequate maneuverability and stability while maintaining high speed and high altitude performance. The best trade-off between these conflicting requirements was found by adopting large but very thin wings mounted high on the fuselage and passing over two large ducts containing the powerful jet engines and fitting the fuel tank between the two engines. To this were added twin outwardly canted tail fins to maintain stability in both high speed straight flights and turns. The twin fins also help ensure that the aircraft doesn't 'skid' too much in the horizontal plane when executing a high speed turn. The design was optimized around speed and climb and not around dogfight maneuverability or low altitude penetration.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-7-wings.jpeg
Photo source -Modern Fighting Aircraft by Bill Gunston, Salamander Books London, 1984

Wing: The wing of an aircraft is the central theme of its design. The mission or purpose of the machine decides the shape, size, sweep and design of the wing. And in return the wing determines back the envelope of aerodynamic parameters the aircraft can operate in. The MiG-25's wing at first glance seems a simple moderately swept trapezoidal shape. In reality it is a complex design maintaining a fine balance of sustaining high speeds, keeping the landing and take off speeds (380 kmph) just about within manageable limits and ensuring that lift does not collapse because of air flowing over the wings at 3000 kmph simply breaking away. The thin shoulder mounted wing astride the two large wedge shaped air intakes reduced the aerodynamic drag that is experienced by the mating of the wing with the fuselage. I won't go here into the aspect ratio, thickness ratios, lift devices etc but will be happy to do so.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-8-tumansky-r15.jpg
Tumansky R-15BD-300 turbojet weighed 2.45 tonnes and was designed to operate best at close to full throttle at high altitudes which suited our reconnaissance mission profiles perfectly. At low speeds or altitudes the powerplant was a gas guzzler

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-9-intakes.jpg
Source - Airliners.Net

Engines: The Tumansky R-15BD-300 engines put out ~7500 kgf of sustained thrust in dry conditions ie without the after burner and 11,200 kgf with afterburner. At full thrust the aircraft drinks about 1006 kgs per minute ie 503 kgs/minute per engine. Bear in mind it is then flying at 50 kms a minute. Average kya hai = 27 litres per km, ball park. At Mach 3.0 the engine starts behaving like a ramjet. For the 1960s when they were designed these engines could be considered the acme of aeronautical and metallurgical applied science. The engine was designed by the legendary Sergei Tumansky who was one of the leading engines designers in the world in the 1950s and 1960s. Our MiG-21s and MiG-27s are all powered by different engines from the Tumansky stable. Interestingly there is a lot of biased criticism on the web of how simplistic or unsophisticated these engines were. In reality these low pressure turbo jets could act as a half ram-turbojet above Mach 2.5 and the western sites that dole out this criticism today forget that the Americans developed something similar in principle for their own SR-71 Blackbird (more on that later).

Airframe materials & challenges of heating: Air friction at Mach 3.0 generated a temperature of ~300 degrees centigrade at the nose and the leading edges of the wings. Aluminum, the conventional material most aircraft are made of, begins to weaken at 130 degrees!! The Mikoyan Gurevich Bureau chose welded nickel steel alloys for most of the primary structure with titanium for the hottest areas like the nose and wing leading edges. All told, about 80% of the plane's structure was composed of tempered nickel steel alloy and the rest of aluminum and titanium. The MiG-25 also required the development of advanced welding techniques to avoid cracks developing in the heat-resistant alloys. Most aircraft even today are fixed together with rivets. This doesn’t work at 300 degrees centigrade. Hence the use of steel alloys and welding. In fact the MiG-25 is the only combat aircraft I know of to be made largely of steel which is twice as heavy as aluminum. Complex cooling systems some using the fuel as a coolant were built in to cool the avionics and cockpit. It is said the inside of the cockpit canopy glass got too hot at Mach 2.8 to be touched by bare hands.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-10-islamabad-recce.jpg
Artists impression. Source IADS Blog

Sonic boom that was heard across the region: In May 1997, an IAF Mikoyan MiG-25RB reconnaissance aircraft created a furore when the pilot flew faster than Mach 2 over Islamabad following a reconnaissance mission into Pakistan airspace. The Foxbat broke the sound barrier while flying at an altitude of around 65,000 feet over Islamabad to pique the Pakistanis where otherwise the mission would have remained covert at least to the general public. The sonic boom was heard through most of Islamabad and created quite a ripple. The Pakistan Government considered the breaking of the sound barrier as deliberate act to make the point that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had no aircraft in its inventory which can come close to the cruising height of the MiG-25. The PAF to their credit did scramble their F-16s to intercept our cheerful intruder but to no avail. The F-16 goes up to only 55,000' and by the time the F-16s would get up to that altitude the MiG-25 could easily be 125 kms away even at its cruise speed. To the observer on the ground a sonic boom sounds like a loud repeated thunder clap you normally associate with a thunder storm.

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The business end of the MiG-25RB's. Camera capsule that could be lowered for loading, unloading and maintenance.

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Image taken from a civilian Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) showing the 3D images of the ground that a SLAR can throw up. It can be set to either see through the trees or not.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-11c-pilot.jpg
IAF pilots flying the Mig-25 wore pressure suits to deal with the altitudes. One of the camera portholes can be seen on the right.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-11d-operations.jpg
A Mig-25 being readied for a sortie. The pilot and despatcher are talking via a wire link to avoid radio signals going out to prying ears. Source Bharat Rakshak; Copyright IAF

Mig-25RB: The MiG-25RB's with the IAF were pure reconnaissance aircraft equipped without interception capability. They relied on their speed and altitude to stay safe. Our aircraft were equipped with cameras in the nose, a SLAR (Side Looking Airborne Radar) and almost surely ELINT devices to gather electronic intelligence. An SLAR, especially one with a synthetic aperture, paints 3D images of what it 'sees' on the ground. The IAF's MiG-25's flew 10 to 25 sorties a month - definitely along the line of control with China and Pakistan but also surely into the airspace of our two neighbours though this will, understandably, never be acknowledged.

The 'RB' suffix indicates an ability to carry & deliver bombs from high altitude. The aircraft was designed to carry six 500 kgs bombs under the wings at Mach 2.35 (~2500 kmph) at high altitudes and deliver them. I do not know if we used or practised this capability. Interestingly at 65,000' and Mach 2.0 a bomb can be tossed to free glide tens of kms to its intended target. Though how you would aim remains a question.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-solar.jpg
Photo source - Bharat Rakshak; Copyright IAF

Shooting the Sun: Our IAF achieved a noble milestone by using the MiG-25 to shot the sun during the total solar eclipse of 24th October 1995. A upward looking camera was fitted in one of the two cockpits with a pilot training the camera towards sun while the other pilot flew the aircraft on course at exactly the speed that the sun races across the surface of the earth. Though it sounds simple it required rehearsals on the ground and careful navigation and geometry to track the sun exactly to capture this phenomena in the few minutes it occurred without error. On the ground the 'total' phase of a solar eclipse viewed from a point on terra firma may last only a several seconds but when you fly as fast as the sun moves across the earth and track the course of the umbra across the central axis of the eclipse you can film a total eclipse for a minute or two or more. Also from the stratosphere the view is much clearer than from the ground.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-12.2-belenko.jpg
MiG-25, flown by a Russian traitor, that landed at Japan's Hakodate airport with barely any fuel left. Created a stir in 1976 at the height of the cold war. This photo adorned newspapers all over the world.

Betrayal: In 1976, sadly, a Soviet traitor, Victor Belenko, flew his MiG-25 to Japan and sought asylum thus revealing his country's secrets to the Americans. The Americans examined the aircraft thoroughly and Russians went onto to develop more modern marks of the aircraft to make up for the compromise they had suffered. The Yanks were disdainful of its valve technology radar and avionics. It was left to their CIA to point out that valve radars are more immune to the effects of a electromagnetic impulse from an atomic blast and the Mig's 600 kilowatt radar was virtually immune to jamming by Western devices then in service. The Soviets rightfully believed Belenko was a CIA convert. As an aviation enthusiast I remember this event as if it was yesterday and the excitement of listening to the news on every radio station (anyone here still do that!).

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-13-sr71.jpeg

SR-71 Blackbird: No story on the MiG-25 can ever be complete without touching on the Lockheed SR-71 designed by the legendary Kelly Johnson an equal in every way to Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. The SR-71 gets compared a lot on the web today with the MiG-25 because the two were the fastest combat aircraft in service with the Americans and the Russians, respectively, in the cold war. In reality the two had been designed for very different roles and earned the respect of their opponents in equal measure. The SR-71 was a high altitude long range reconnaissance aircraft designed to fly continuously at Mach 3.2 (or more) at 80,000' to 90,000'. It was faster than the MiG-25 and had longer legs. The MiG-25 was designed to be a stand off interceptor to shoot down intruding American supersonic bombers from a distance and be able to chase them when needed. In addition to being a stand off interceptor the performance parameters of the MiG-25 made it a natural candidate for a dedicated reconnaissance machine. In terms of sustained speed the SR-71 led the world of aircrafts followed by the MiG-25. Even today, in terms of sustained speed, nothing comes close to what these two superlative designs of the 1960s achieved.

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The largest fighter ever in the IAF the MiG-25 juxtaposed next to the smallest jet fighter ever to enter full scale service in the world - the dimutive Folland Gnat/ HAL Ajeet.

Compare the MiG's length of 65' to the Gnat's at a little below 30'. The Gnat's empty weight of 2200 kgs was less than the empty weight of one of the Mig's two engines each weighing 2.45 tonnes! Both served in the IAF with distinction and for long. It is a testimony to the diversity of machines the IAF can operate and support with quiet success. You can read more on the nifty Gnat/Ajeet on Team BHP at http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/commer...nat-mk-ii.html

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-15-su30-mig25.jpg
The Sukhoi Su-30MKI IAF's mainstay fighter with the Mig-25.

The Sukhoi's throttle tops at Mach 2.0. Its strength is not in speed but in its low altitude capabilities, intense maneuverability, smart avionics and ability to deliver guided weapons from a stand off range. Interestingly the engines of the Sukhoi are about 9% to 10% more powerful than those of the Mig-25 -12,300 kgf for the Sukhoi versus 11,200 kgf for the Mig. But the Sukhoi engines and the aircraft are designed to excel in a very different set of diverse roles making a comparison not feasible. How do you compare a Formula One (Mig-25) racing car with a BMW 7 fast luxury sedan.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-16-foxbat-end.jpg

102 Squadron and its men - pilots, engineers and technicians kept our hottest aircraft in service from 1981 till 2006. We owe these silent heroes our salute and gratitude. The MiG-25's original shelf life was for 15 years. Through two service life extension programmes we kept them going till our satellites and drones had fully taken over the job. Given that Air Forces and aircraft all over the world are moving away from speed & altitude to stealth, smart weapons and drones it is likely that for a very long time the MiG-25 Foxbat will remain the fastest highest flying aircraft to ever don the IAF roundel.

Jai hind.

References:

Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996-97
The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft by Paul Eden; Publisher Amber Books, London; 2004
Modern Air Combat by Bill Gunston & Mike Spick; Publisher Salamander Books, New York; 1983
Modern Fighting Aircraft by Bill Gunston; Salamander Books, London; 1984

Last edited by Aditya : 26th June 2015 at 11:58. Reason: Spacing
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Old 25th June 2015, 17:00   #2
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Mr. Narayan, as a kid growing up in the 60s I was fascinated by fighter aircraft (mostly US and Russian as these two were in an arms race at that time). I remember the incident of Lt. Belenko clearly and also some of the NATO call names for Russian aircraft (Fishbed for Mig 21, and Flogger for Mig 23, and more recently Flanker for the Su27 and Fulcrum for the Mig 29).


Your threads (on the Gnat and the Marut) made for very interesting reading. This thread on the Foxbat should do so too. Thank you for the entertainment.
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Old 25th June 2015, 20:19   #3
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Your threads (on the Gnat and the Marut) made for very interesting reading. This thread on the Foxbat should do so too. Thank you for the entertainment.
Dear Navin,

Thank you for your kind words and for reading my articles. I am full of admiration and a twinge of envy about your Spitfire restoration project. What joy! What a rich learning experience that must have been. Thank you for the clean and professional way you and the team maintain Team BHP. It encourages me to write on my passion & profession.

With warm regards,
Narayan
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Old 26th June 2015, 12:00   #4
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 27th June 2015 at 19:41.
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Old 26th June 2015, 12:30   #5
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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force

This is the story of the fastest, highest flying aircraft to ever don the tri-colour roundel of the Indian Air Force (IAF). It is dedicated to the men of Nos 102 Squadron 'Trisonics' who flew and maintained these big beautiful birds.
Shooting the Sun: Our IAF achieved a noble milestone by using the MiG-25 to shot the sun during the total solar eclipse of 24th October 1995. A upward looking camera was fitted in one of the two cockpits with a pilot training the camera towards sun while the other pilot flew the aircraft on course at exactly the speed that the sun races across the surface of the earth. Though it sounds simple it required rehearsals on the ground and careful navigation and geometry to track the sun exactly to capture this phenomena in the few minutes it occurred without error. On the ground the 'total' phase of a solar eclipse viewed from a point on terra firma may last only a several seconds but when you fly as fast as the sun moves across the earth and track the course of the umbra across the central axis of the eclipse you can film a total eclipse for a minute or two or more. Also from the stratosphere the view is much clearer than from the ground.
Jai hind.
Signature V.Narayan Article. No more praises for the way you write these articles as you would have already got bored of hearing the praises. Couldnt resist : Cheers for this one too.

An article on Foxbat is always thrilling to read, as everything about it has been a sort of mystery. No concrete info on web regarding what it did and how it helped. For me, thats the beauty of the beast.

And of course the ISLAMABAD Recce operation, I still keep reading it over and over, and though I still do not know what was the objective of that mission.

One of the most interesting pics in this article is the 2 seat trainer version, it looks strange, no more like a concept, have you ever seen something like this. This is the first time for me. What a great looking super fighter. Thanks so much for that.

Do you know of any other fighter with seats like this. Brilliant.

Cheers Again
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Old 26th June 2015, 12:33   #6
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Wonderfully written Sir!

I was (am still) in awe of these two magnificent machines (Gnat and MiG). I used to stay very close to an army base in my childhood days and would read up voraciously about any Fighter jets, Helicopters or Naval ships , and would take pride in telling my friends about the pedigree of the fighters which would fly over our heads.
And yes- the fear of sonic boom gradually converted top awe when I realized how it occurs
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Old 26th June 2015, 12:50   #7
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Thank you for this wonderful writeup on the legendary Foxbat. The capabilities of these hardy Russian aircraft kept us wide-eyed in wonder while in school at the height of the cold war.
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Old 26th June 2015, 14:41   #8
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The SR-71 has retired but I think the IAF still uses the Foxbat. The engineering that has gone into these jets is truly awesome which makes them such stars.
Sir,one question is that while reading about fighters "service ceiling" is mentioned. Is this the maximum altitude that a fighter can reach or does it have some other meaning ?
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Old 26th June 2015, 14:59   #9
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amazingly well written... being a fan of aviation myself, i actually read every word of this article. i remember my factory used to be near the HAL at Nashik and i have heard these beasts a number of times from quite close. when i saw one of these in person, i just couldn't believe the sheer size of the aircraft.
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Old 26th June 2015, 15:12   #10
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How did I miss this thread?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ambivalent_98 View Post
The SR-71 has retired but I think the IAF still uses the Foxbat. The engineering that has gone into these jets is truly awesome which makes them such stars.
Sir,one question is that while reading about fighters "service ceiling" is mentioned. Is this the maximum altitude that a fighter can reach or does it have some other meaning ?
As mentioned by Narayan in the article, the IAF retired the Foxbat in 2006. But it is still used by other Air Forces like the Russian Air Force.

The SR-71 was still used by NASA for research purposes till 1999.

In simple words "service ceiling' is the altitude at which an aircraft is designed to be operated and is most effective in terms of range, payload, speed etc.

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Old 26th June 2015, 17:02   #11
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How did I miss this thread?
Foxbat this article is for you. Happy you read it.

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Originally Posted by ambivalent_98 View Post
...one question is that while reading about fighters "service ceiling" is mentioned. Is this the maximum altitude that a fighter can reach or does it have some other meaning ?
ambivalent_98, Service Ceiling is normally defined as the density of air (and hence by extrapolation altitude) at which a jet aircraft can still climb at 500 feet/ minute which is similar the speed of a normal elevator in a 10 storey building. For propeller driven aircraft the rate is 100 feet/ minute. Defined thus service ceiling is not the absolute ceiling but more the practical ceiling. This is not an aeronautical rule just a guidance most manufacturers follow. For jet fighters however effective maneuvering ceiling is the more relevant altitude which would be ball park 12% to 15% below service ceiling. Hope this is helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterjim13 View Post
Signature V.Narayan Article. No more praises for the way you write these articles as you would have already got bored of hearing the praises. Couldnt resist : Cheers for this one too.

One of the most interesting pics in this article is the 2 seat trainer version, it looks strange, no more like a concept, have you ever seen something like this.

Do you know of any other fighter with seats like this. Brilliant.
Peter Jim, Thank you for your compliments and thank you for reading the article. I will retire in a few years - practicing, my skills to keep busy in 'em golden years! You owe me a few naval questions, Peter.

As you know several fighters have two seat conversion trainer variants. Normally the trainer variant has an instructors cockpit fitted behind the main cockpit and this eats into integral fuel cavities or gun ammo bays. In case of the MiG-25 they retained the main cockpit where it was and used the long nose to position the instructors cockpit. Unlike most fighters here the instructor sits lower front and the pupil sits upper rear. As in most fighter trainers the instructor can in an emergency fire the pupils ejector seat but the student cannot get rid of the teacher.

In the bi-plane era it was common for the cockpits (typically uncovered) to be separated by a few feet like in the Tiger Moth for example. But since 1940s I know of only two conversion trainer aircraft with a similar arrangement of separate cockpits for pupil and instructor and a third which had two pilots in completely separated cockpits.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-x1.jpg
The Spitfire. Finally at the end of WW2 a conversion trainer version of late mark Spitfires finally came in. Prior to this pilots converted onto Spitfires with a few ground runs and with a qualified pilot flying alongside and helping them through the basics via a radio link. Photo of an IAF TMk 9A in 1948. It has the early short lived Ashok Chakra style roundel adopted by the IAF just after independence. Source of photo - History of Indian Aviation by Pushpindar Singh


Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-x2-do335-pfeil.jpg
Dornier Do-335 fighter - the first to feature an ejector seat

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-x3-two-seater.jpg
Its twin seat conversion trainer

The second was the Dornier Do-335 a twin engine fast German interceptor of WW2 with a puller and pusher propeller. Dornier believed this reduced drag and added to propeller efficiency. Well the aircraft clocked 474 MPH (765 kmph) which was fast for a prop driven aircraft then and now. The events of WW2 overcame the development process. Photos show the regular single seat variant and the twin seat conversion trainer. Incidentally this was the first aircraft to feature an ejector seat.

Indian Aviation: MiG-25 Foxbat in the Indian Air Force-x4-f82-twin_mustang.jpg
The third was the F-86 Twin Mustang developed by North American Aviation from its legendary P-51 Mustang of WW2. The F-86 was used as a long range escort fighter in the years immediately after WW2 by the Americans.
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Old 26th June 2015, 17:23   #12
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On a lighter note seeing the F-86 Twin Mustang , it looks like an identity crisis fighter
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Old 26th June 2015, 17:42   #13
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Interesting airplanes coming up

Mr. Narayan can you possibly do a separate thread on the Custer CCW-5 and the actual principles behind its unique S/VTOL and hovering capabilities?
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Old 26th June 2015, 18:24   #14
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HUH?!!

Amazing insight and details. Love your articles.
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Old 26th June 2015, 18:51   #15
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Excellent thread as always.

The Foxbat and BlackBird epitomise the best and craziest aircraft that were put into production. Whilst both these are typically compared because of their speed and altitude both from a development and technology perspective are very different.
The 25 is a rugged, over engineered, rocket with simple aerodynamics which 'gets it done'. From the look perspective it is a high wing design, twin tail aircraft which looks very conventional which makes it very understated and doesnt really 'look' the part (other than those massive intakes!)
The 71 on the other hand 'looks' the part, was designed to make use of all the high tech wizardry available to the US at that time.
While the 71 relied on titanium and other exotic alloys, the 25 made do with what was available (even on the wing leading edge!)
The engines though similar in concept (acting like a ramjet in the M2+ regime) used different ideas to get there (moving shock cones - 71, variable inlet geometry - 25).

If you asked me - the Blackbird is the beauty the Foxbat is the beast! The blackbird is a Ceramic Knife, the Foxbat is a basic combat switchblade.
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