Did Russia’s fastest jet ever CATCH the SR-71 “Blackbird”?
You may think the answer is easy,
But it’s not that simple.
Russia built the World’s fastest Interceptor planes as an answer to the SR-71’s spying-Eyes.
With a TOP Speed of MACH 3.2, the MiG-25 “Foxbat” was almost as fast as America’s SR-71 “Blackbird” with an officially released TOP Speed of MACH 3.35
The SR-71 was entering Russia’s air-space…which is a big deal.
I’ll let a Veteran named Devon Stavrowsky explain the complexity of the “Blackbird’s missions over the U.S.S.R.
By the way, from 1968 – 2005, Mr. Stavrowsky was a member of the U.S. Army’s elite Special Forces…yeah, he was a “Green Beret” during the Cold War.
So, did the second fastest jet (to this day), the Soviet MiG-25, find a way to catch the fastest-of-the-fast….the SR-71 “Blackbird”?
“The MiG was not able to catch the Blackbird. (HOWEVER)
It came close to intercepting the SR-71 because the Russians would track it on radar and plot an intercept course.”
If you take the right angle and leave early enough, even a slower plane can make an intercept. Think of a defensive back in a football game.
The wide receiver goes shooting up the field, already has a running start, and may, in fact, be a faster sprinter. But if the defensive back anticipates where he’s going to be down the field, he can cut across the field and meet up with him…
…if he (MiG pilot) chooses the right angle, even though he’s slower, he’s actually running a shorter distance…(then) the intercept can be made.
And once the the SR-71s were spotted, it was NOT hard to plot an intercept.
Because their trajectory was pretty-much a straight line. They didn’t do a lot of turning over Russia.
All that not withstanding, the best they ever did was come close, because the SR-71 was, in fact, significantly faster than the MiG.
Even to this day nobody can tell you just how fast the SR-71 actually was. One….because it’s it’s potential top speed is still CLASSIFIED to this day.
Two…. because they (SR-71 pilots) don’t really actually know exactly.
WHAT’s that mean?
I’ve heard and read comments by SR-71 pilots who said they didn’t really know, because they were never allowed to put the pedal to the floor…
…and a couple have said fast as they flew, there was still plenty of pedal left.
(is above GIF from a movie?)
The MiGs (both the MiG-25 “Foxbat” and the MiG-31 “Foxhound”) achieved their speed by having engines that produced massive amounts of thrust.
They were designed to make the plane go very fast for a short amount of time. They’re really only good as interceptors for that reason more than others.
In fact, they’re not very flexible engines at all, and if you ran them too hot for two long they’d “run away”, and the pilot would lose total control of them. When that happened, they’d go at top speed until they melted down and destroyed themselves in flight, or until the plane ran out of fuel.
(GIF above from MiG cockpit)
The West was totally astounded at this, and it caused a great deal of consternation. Belenko said that in fact that plane had been totally out of control with both engines ‘run away’, and that the pilot was just holding on for dear life.
He’d pointed the plane at Egypt as he’d calculated that was where he’s run out of fuel and at that time Egypt was a Soviet ally. He got the plane on the ground but it was completely destroyed, and had to be disassembled and shipped back to Russian where it was scrapped.
Not to forgotten, the deadly Air-to-Air weapons of the MiG-25 / 31.
It carried four RD-40 missiles, with a top speed of over Mach 5. This meant it was a serious match for the SR-71, although it never downed one.
The SR-71 was infinitely higher tech than the MiGs.
The cones at the front of the engines would actually move in and out, changing the volume of air that entered the engines several hundred times a second.
This was important, because at the speeds the plane was flying, hitting a pocket of air of greater or lesser density could have a massive effect, and the plane would actually use radar to sample air density miles in front of its flight path and allow the engines to adjust accordingly. This resulted in a relatively smooth transition from pockets of greater to lesser air density and vice versa, and the maintenance of relatively constant speed.
The MiGs, on the other hand, simply used brute force, which meant when the plane at near mach three speeds hit a pocket of higher density air, it could be like hitting a brick wall, and hitting a lower density air pocket would cause dramatic loss of both lift and engine power.
The result was that at those speeds the plane was in a constant state of dramatic shudder and could bounce up or down in the air a couple of hundred feet in fractions of a second.
Neither plane nor pilot could take that kind of sustained ‘beating’ for very long, so it was just as well it typically only had about 15 minutes of flight time to achieve intercept and return to base….. depending on how much afterburner was used in trying to make the intercept.
“If the MiGs got close, the SR-71 pilot would just
OPEN the THROTTLE a little bit more
and TAKE all of the DRAMA OUT OF THE SITUATION.”
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