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Primary function Interceptor; reconnaissance
Primary contractor Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB
Unit cost $57-60 million dollars (U.S.)
Models A: (MiG-25P)
B: (MiG-25RB, MiG-25RBV, MiG-25BBT, MiG-25R)
C: (MiG-25PU, MiG-25RU, MiG-25U)
D: (MiG-25RBK, MiG-25RBS, MiG-25RBSh, MiG-25RBF)
E: (MiG-25PD, MiG-25PDS)
F: (MiG-25BM)
Date entered service 1969
Countries in use USSR / Russia (country of origin)
Wingspan 45 ft 11.5 in
Length 64 ft 10 in
Height 20 ft
Weight 44,080 lbs empty
Ceiling 68,000 to 80,000 + ft, depending on varient
Speed Mach 2.5-2.8
Range 1560 nautical miles with drop tanks
744 miles without
Propulsion Two Tumansky R-15D-300 single shaft turbojet engines
Thrust 11,200 kgf of thrust with afterburners
Crew one
Armament n/a
Payload AA-6 Acrid
AA-7 Apex
AA-8 Aphid

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 "Foxbat" is a Soviet high-speed high-altitude interceptor which was probably designed to intercept the B-70 Valkyrie. It is fast—the fastest operational fighter in the world—but extremely unmaneuverable. When first introduced, it caused great anxiety among NATO analysts, who initially over-estimated its capabilities. The need to counter the new fighter led to the development of the F-15 Eagle.

Western operators have discovered five versions:[1]

The A is the first version.

The B is a reconnaissance version.

The C is a training version.

The D is a modified reconnaissance version.

The E is the current interceptor.


The aircraft has a bubble canopy, and the wings are high on the fuselage. The twin engines are equipped with dual exhaust.

Operational History

Arab-Israeli Clashes

Soviet-flown Foxbats flew reconnaissance missions for the Egyptians from 1971, over the Sinai and over Israel. The IAF tried to set up an interception using F-4 Phantoms, but all attempts failed.

On February 13, 1981, Syrian Foxbats attempted to intercept an Israeli RF-4 Phantom on a reconnaissance mission, but escorting F-15 Eagles, vectored by an Israeli E-2C AWACS plane, downed one with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. The other escaped. On July 29 of that year, another Foxbat was downed by F-15s under similar circumstances.[2] The Syrian Air Force claimed that one of their MiG-25s downed an F-15 in June 1981, but this has never been confirmed.[3] Syria still operates MiG-25s.

Iran-Iraq War

The Foxbat was Iraq's most modern fighter at the start of the Iran-Iraq War. They were flown exclusively by Soviet pilots at first, but Iraqi pilots were trained to fly them after the war began. They claimed a number of victories in the interception role,[4] but their record is still largely unknown. Iraqi Foxbats proved as difficult to intercept as Syrian Foxbats had been for the Israelis, but Iranian F-14 Tomcats managed to down eleven over the course of the war, all with Phoenix missiles.[5] MiG-25s were used to attack Iranian shipping as well, but with no success.[6] Iraqi Foxbats had better luck against ground targets, including the Iranian oil facilities on Khark Island, which were bombed heavily starting in 1982. In 1988, Foxbats were equipped with Soviet anti-radar missiles and sent on missions against Iranian radar stations. At least one of these ended in success when two missiles destroyed the radar dish and killed several personnel of a site near Hamedan, in central-western Iran.

Gulf War and Confrontations with Iraq

Iraq still had MiG-25s at the time of the Gulf War, but they were little used for reconnaissance for fear of losses. A Foxbat scored the Iraqi Air Force's only aerial victory of the war on the first day of bombing (see: F/A-18 Hornet), and the fast-moving MiGs were still hard to successfully intercept. However, two USAF F-15s managed to down two Foxbats on the third day of the war, expending seven missiles to do so.[7] Others were destroyed on the ground or flown to Iran to escape the Coalition juggernaut.

After the war, in December 1992, an American F-16 downed a MiG-25 that had violated the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, the first kill for the F-16 in American service.[8] Ten years (to the month) later, an Iraqi Foxbat shot down an unmanned Predator drone that had been sent to “bait” Iraqi fighters.[9] All remaining Iraqi MiGs were destroyed or captured in the 2003 invasion.

MiG-25 in Popular Culture

When Western sources still thought of it as a superfighter, the Foxbat was the inspiration for novel and movie Firefox, written by Craig Thomas and produced and directed by Clint Eastwood.

A B-52 Stratofortress survives an interception by MiG-25s in a tense scene in the nuclear war movie By Dawn's Early Light, and Foxbats are briefly seen on the ground in the blockbuster Independence Day.


  1. MiG-25 Foxbat at GlobalSecurity.org
  2. Rolling Thunder: Jet Combat from World War II to the Gulf War, by Ivan Rendall, Dell Publishing, 1997
  3. Syrian Air-to-Air Victories since 1948
  4. Arab MiG-19 and MiG-21 Units in Combat, by David Nicolle and Tom Cooper, Osprey Publishing, 2004
  5. Iranian F-14 Units in Combat, by Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop, Osprey Publishing, 2004
  6. Tanker War, 1980-1988
  7. F-15C Eagle Units in Combat, by Steve Davies, Osprey Publishing, 2005
  8. http://www.f-16.net/f-16_fighting_falcon_airframe-3150.html
  9. Pilotless Warriors Soar to Success