In the 1950s, the
However, the MiG-25 also had some clear virtues from the outset. It was quintessentially a Soviet aircraft, being relatively inexpensive, rugged, reliable, easy to maintain, and straightforward to operate. It was representative of MiG’s philosophy of building world-class fighter aircraft using decade-old technology. The RP-25 “Smerch” 500kW radar could burn through heavy jamming, and had a detection range of 100 kilometres. In fact, pilots were not allowed to engage it on the ground, and it is said that this radar was powerful enough to kill rabbits near the runway. Also, many engineers claim that the much-ridiculed vacuum tube electronics are perfectly practical and cost-effective for high-power microwave applications, and are less susceptible to radiation in case of a nuclear attack.
After entering service, the Foxbats have been said to routinely intrude into hostile airspace to spy on enemy facilities. They were used in Operation Pawan (
However, there is a limit to which an airframe can be flogged, and as Wing Commander Ashok Chauhan of the Rapiers Squadron puts it, “we can push our Foxbats for another 2-3 years, but after three life extensions, it’s prudent to retire them now”. There is little doubt that the retirement of the MiG-25RB has left a gaping hole in