The Story of Soviet pilot who defected Mig-25 fighter jet to Japan

The Story of Soviet pilot who defected Mig-25 fighter jet to Japan

The defection of Viktor Belenko took place on September 6, 1976, when Lieutenant Viktor Belenko of the Soviet Air Defence Forces flew his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25P “Foxbat” aircraft from near Vladivostok in the Far East of the Soviet Union to Hakodate Airport in Hokkaido Prefecture of Japan.

This huge, grey hulk sports the red stars of the Soviet Union. No one in the West has ever seen one before. The jet lands on Hakodate’s concrete-and-asphalt runway.

The runway, it turns out, is not long enough. The jet ploughs through hundreds of feet of earth before it finally comes to rest at the far end of the airport.

The MiG-25’s arrival in Japan was a windfall for Western military planners. The Japanese government originally only allowed the United States to examine the plane and do ground tests of the radar and engines but subsequently invited the Americans to examine the plane extensively.

It was dismantled for this purpose in Japan. The plane was moved by a US Air Force C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft from Hakodate to Hyakuri Air Base on 25 September, and by this time experts had determined that the plane was an interceptor, not a fighter-bomber, which was a welcome reassurance for Japanese defence

The Japanese government laid out a plan on 2 October to return the aircraft in crates from the port of Hitachi and bill the Soviets US$40,000 for crating services and airfield damage at Hakodate.


The Soviets unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a return via one of their own Antonov An-22 aircraft and attempted to organize a rigorous inspection of the crates, but Japan refused both demands and the Soviets finally submitted to the Japanese terms on 22 October.

The aircraft was moved from Hyakuri to the port of Hitachi on 11 November in a convoy of trailers. It left in 30 crates aboard the Soviet cargo ship Taigonos on 15 November 1976 and arrived about three days later in Vladivostok.

A team of Soviet technicians had been allowed to view subassemblies at Hitachi, and upon finding 20 missing parts, one being a film of the flight to Hakodate, the Soviets attempted to charge Japan US$10 million. Neither the Japanese nor Soviet bill is known to have been paid

Viktor Belenko was granted political asylum in the US and became a consultant to the US military. He also became a public speaker and businessman. He later visited Moscow in 1995.

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