What does it take to be a fighter pilot?11 August 2022
Qatar receives its first Eurofighter Typhoon18 August 2022
Like a French Nieuport XI, an American North American F-86 Sabre, or a British Supermarine Spitfire it had long since entered the pantheon of military aviation. Since this summer the last official user of the mythical Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat has retired it from service. Algeria still used it, in an ultra-marginal way, as an air superiority fighter. So one of the main remnants of the Cold War is gone.
To claim that the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat still had a place in a leading air force like the Al-Quwwāt al-G’awwiyyah al-G’azāʾiriyyah is at best romanticism and at worst denial of reality. The plane had become a real financial drain for the Algerians as its implementation required dozens and dozens of hours of maintenance with spare parts that were increasingly difficult to find, even from Russia. Not to mention that this jet had such a delirious consumption of jet fuel that the Algerian Ministry of Defence had classified it as top secret. In terms of human resources, this fighter was also problematic because it required pilots capable of taking control of an aircraft designed generally 20 or 30 years before they were born. In the age of glass cockpits, the cockpit of the beast was anachronistic.
This was the price to pay for flying one of the only aircraft in the world capable of reaching Mach 2.83 at high altitude, which in his case was 3,000 kilometres per hour at maximum speed. Let’s face it, that’s class!
Because before being one of the star aircraft of the Al-Quwwāt al-G’awwiyyah al-G’azāʾiriyyah the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat was above all one of the most remarkable military aircraft designed in the USSR and undoubtedly the most ambitious of its fighters. Its role was simple: to intercept the American Convair B-58 Hustler and North American B-70 Valkyrie bombers before they entered Soviet airspace. The termination of the development programme for this second aircraft did not mean the end of the MiG-25 programme. Much to the chagrin of the Pentagon and NATO generals, this aircraft was to become a nightmare at every turn. And for good reason, it could give chase to the very secret Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spy plane.
Although it did not survive the end of the Cold War in the former USSR and the presence in the Russian ranks of its successor, the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound, the MiG-25 Foxbat was able to remain in the air in a few countries such as Algeria, India, Iraq and Syria. Apart from Algeria, which officially made its last public flight during the parade marking the 60th anniversary of its liberation from the French yoke on Tuesday 5 July 2022, all other countries had already said goodbye to this fighter. Since the spring of 2020 all Syrian MiG-25 Foxbats have been grounded due to a lack of spare parts… and pilots.
In fact, if on July 5, 2022, the Algerian bank holidays, the aircraft made its last appearance over Algiers, it is only at the beginning of August that the MiG-25 Foxbat was officially removed from the Algerian air force. It seems that at least two flights have taken place allowing aircraft to reach secure storage.
It is not known what will happen to these machines: they will be resold or donated to aviation museums or sent to a scrap dealer.
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