September 06, 1976

Soviet pilot Lt. Victor Belenko, taking off from Sakharovka AB near Vladivostok, lands his MiG-25 (NATO reporting name “Foxbat”) interceptor at the Hakodate Airport in northern Japan and asks for political asylum. He is flown to the US two days later. The defection provides an intelligence bonanza, as this gives the West its first detailed inspection of the Mach 3-capable fighter and a chance to debrief a front-line pilot. The aircraft is partially disassembled, flown to a Japanese Air Self Defense Force base near Tokyo on a US Air Force C-5 Galaxy, where it is then fully disassembled and inspected in detail. On Nov. 12, the MiG-25, in crates, is loaded on a Soviet freighter and returned.