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SAS A340
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Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:05 pm

It has been classified for 30 years, but now they got to meet :highfive: A nice story.
Saw an interview with the retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Veltri in the morning news and he mentioned that Russian Mig,s was in the running against them to try to take advantage of this opportunity when the Viggen pilots appeared :biting:



https://www.usafe.af.mil/News/Article-D ... WMtrpUahc/
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dfwjim1
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:24 pm

Nice story but the SR-71 was in International Airspace and then Swedish airspace (according to the story) so why would Russian MIGs bother the SR-71? Or was it not mentioned that the SR-71 "strayed" into Russian airspace?
 
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keesje
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:42 pm

So the SR-71 spyplane came back after violating russian airspace, developped an engine issue and a few Flagons interceptors were closing in, locking the Blackbird? And then the Viggens surrounded it preventing the russian from making the kill?
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:04 pm

dfwjim1 wrote:
Nice story but the SR-71 was in International Airspace and then Swedish airspace (according to the story) so why would Russian MIGs bother the SR-71? Or was it not mentioned that the SR-71 "strayed" into Russian airspace?


If for no other reason, if you were a Russian fighter pilot having gun camera film, without actually firing, you would be Number One Pilot in the PVO-Strany. I mean Order of Lenin material. They tried and tried unsuccessfully to nail an SR.

GF
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:05 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:
Nice story but the SR-71 was in International Airspace and then Swedish airspace (according to the story) so why would Russian MIGs bother the SR-71? Or was it not mentioned that the SR-71 "strayed" into Russian airspace?


If for no other reason, if you were a Russian fighter pilot having gun camera film, without actually firing, you would be Number One Pilot in the PVO-Strany. I mean Order of Lenin material. They tried and tried unsuccessfully to nail an SR, in international airspace.

GF
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:26 am

keesje wrote:
So the SR-71 spyplane came back after violating russian airspace, developped an engine issue and a few Flagons interceptors were closing in, locking the Blackbird? And then the Viggens surrounded it preventing the russian from making the kill?


There was no such thing as Russian airspace back then, just Soviet. ;)

There seems to be no mention of the SR-71 violating Soviet airspace.
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AirlineCritic
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:31 am

I have trouble understanding what they did. An engine trouble developed on aircraft A in international space, then aircraft B, C, and D came to look. Aircraft A continued on its way. At no time did a potentially hostile aircraft E appear. Is the point that B, C, and D helped keep E away from even trying to close in? Or something else?
 
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keesje
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 am

Admitting you ecaped Sovjet airspace, fleeing into international airspace after engine trouble, with defense fighters on your tail is saying you broke international law. Which can't be the case. It' all miscommunication and fake aquisitions, the others did it too, etc, see.. The evil russian fighters were very aggresive above international waters and the Swedes got a medal for just being there..
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:46 am

keesje wrote:
So the SR-71 spyplane came back after violating russian airspace, developped an engine issue and a few Flagons interceptors were closing in, locking the Blackbird? And then the Viggens surrounded it preventing the russian from making the kill?


I guess so.... Veltri said (SR71 pilot)
"the Soviet Union had spotted their jet and had sent several fighter aircraft in pursuit.

"They had orders to shoot us down or force us to land," Veltri said.

At around 3.15pm, Veltri looked out of his window and saw two little dots approaching quickly.

"We immediately thought that they were Soviet planes. But when they came closer we saw that there were two Swedish Viggens.
Blad and Ignell escorted the Blackbird in international airspace into Danish airspace where Danish fighter aircraft then took over. The Americans Noll and Veltri eventually landed safely at an American base in West Germany.
The pilots seems to be happy at least and thats the main thing ;)
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tommy1808
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:01 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
They tried and tried unsuccessfully to nail an SR.

GF


To get close up pictures. Shooting it down would not have been that much of a problem, compared to missiles it was neither agile, fast, nor did it fly very high.*
I do recall a statement from some USAF officer that the only thing keeping the Vietnamese from shooting one down was their lack of C4I, I.e. putting their SAMs up in the air far enough ahead of it. Probably am old aeroplane magazine, would need to see if I can find it.
But an amazing piece of technology it was and pretty much still is by today's standards.

Best regards
Thomas

*any idea if an F15 ever got one during a test?
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keesje
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:11 pm

SAS A340 wrote:
The pilots seems to be happy at least and thats the main thing ;)


I guess not only the pilots, you want to avoid another Gary Powers show.
https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/francis-gary-powers-s-2-spy-plane-1889453128


tommy1808 wrote:
I do recall a statement from some USAF officer that the only thing keeping the Vietnamese from shooting one down was their lack of C4I, I.e. putting their SAMs up in the air far enough ahead of it. Probably am old aeroplane magazine, would need to see if I can find it.


Official information aired in that era always has to be looked at through cold war glasses. That's even the case now, if the wrong guys have success it's always a "technical malfunction" or "unkown" "unconfirmed" at least. down. W'll never know about 60-6932.
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 3:06 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
They tried and tried unsuccessfully to nail an SR.

GF


To get close up pictures. Shooting it down would not have been that much of a problem, compared to missiles it was neither agile, fast, nor did it fly very high.*
I do recall a statement from some USAF officer that the only thing keeping the Vietnamese from shooting one down was their lack of C4I, I.e. putting their SAMs up in the air far enough ahead of it. Probably am old aeroplane magazine, would need to see if I can find it.
But an amazing piece of technology it was and pretty much still is by today's standards.

Best regards
Thomas

*any idea if an F15 ever got one during a test?


I know early F-15 guys who tried being set up on a head on a GCI intercept. As soon as the SR-71 turned, even at M 3.0 the radar solution went away as the range and angles opened up. It had to perfect with no defensive action by the SR. Getting a camera shot would have been enough unless ordered to fire by the PVO HQ.

GF
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 3:28 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
tommy1808 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
They tried and tried unsuccessfully to nail an SR.

GF


To get close up pictures. Shooting it down would not have been that much of a problem, compared to missiles it was neither agile, fast, nor did it fly very high.*
I do recall a statement from some USAF officer that the only thing keeping the Vietnamese from shooting one down was their lack of C4I, I.e. putting their SAMs up in the air far enough ahead of it. Probably am old aeroplane magazine, would need to see if I can find it.
But an amazing piece of technology it was and pretty much still is by today's standards.

Best regards
Thomas

*any idea if an F15 ever got one during a test?


I know early F-15 guys who tried being set up on a head on a GCI intercept. As soon as the SR-71 turned, even at M 3.0 the radar solution went away as the range and angles opened up. It had to perfect with no defensive action by the SR. Getting a camera shot would have been enough unless ordered to fire by the PVO HQ.

GF


Thanks, that is interesting.

Best regards
Thomas
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:48 pm

I suspect tha SAM-2 would have had to be set up perfectly too. At cruise level, the SR-71 would have been at the very end of the Guideline’s altitude capability, but far faster than the -2 was designed to hit. The search radars had very short time between acquisition of the inbound SR, transfer to the launch site and fire control acquisition. A pretty tight time line at M 3.0 for the computer technology of the day.

OEI is another story, a dead duck.

GF
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:56 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I suspect tha SAM-2 would have had to be set up perfectly too. At cruise level, the SR-71 would have been at the very end of the Guideline’s altitude capability, but far faster than the -2 was designed to hit. The search radars had very short time between acquisition of the inbound SR, transfer to the launch site and fire control acquisition. A pretty tight time line at M 3.0 for the computer technology of the day.

OEI is another story, a dead duck.

GF


The replacement platform(s) for the A-12 did a great job making interceptors/SAMs negligible.
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:06 pm

A SR-71 with an engine out, at FL-250 is really just a sitting duck. The fact the AJ-37s intercepted it confirms that.

USSR Su-15s were 'on the way to intercept' the SR. The Soviets were probably flying the Su-15T/TM versions, which had an advanced radar. But once the Viggens were escorting the Blackbird, the Russian targeting would have been more complicated. There would be no way to assure a kill on the SR-71 without killing one or all of the JA-37s, too. To assure a kill on the Blackbird and Viggens they would need two Su-15TMs armed with 4 AA-3s or 2 AA-8s, each. Since the AA-8 (max range about 5 nm) and the AA-3 (max range about 14 nm) were short ranged missiles, the Flagons would have had to close to less than 10 nm for the AA-3 or about 3 nm for the AA-8, or less than 1 nm for a 23mm gun kill. Then the USSR would have been accused of shooting down aircraft from two nations in international airspace, but that never really mattered to the Soviets.

Getting a kill on an SR-71 would have been a big feather in some Soviet Officer's hat would have been worth it to them, even if it was a cheap kill on a disabled aircraft. Killing the Swedes would have meant nothing to them.
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:59 pm

kc135topboom wrote:
Getting a kill on an SR-71 would have been a big feather in some Soviet Officer's hat would have been worth it to them, even if it was a cheap kill on a disabled aircraft. Killing the Swedes would have meant nothing to them.


Killing an American plane over international waters would have been a serious act of war. That could have been justifiable only if the SR-71 had previously violated
grossly and intentionally the Soviet airspace which would also have been an act of war. Had some pilot shot a SR-71 just to show his ability would have earned something else than a feather in the head.

The story does not tell from where the SR-71 was returning from. The Baltic Express route flown regularly was over international waters and there has been no stories that the US would have flown such espionage flights over the Soviet Union in the 80's, when satellites did exist.

Hence I suspect that this was not a big thing. Other links (https://theaviationist.com/2018/11/29/t ... -airspace/) hint that it was rather to help a damaged aircraft to find home and follow it in case it would crash in the sea to help a potential rescue, and of course to get a feather in their hat as "intercepting" the rare bird.
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:37 am

According to SR71 pilot Richard Graham on his excellent podcast the Blackbird was never flown directly over Soviet territory, data was collected by flying close to their borders and using oblique sensors


I think that’s probably true


Mostly..
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:43 am

The SR-71 was made for violating USSR airspace & getting away with it. So that was probably exactly what it did previous to flying into international airspace. If you believe it was there for doing patrols over international waters, google around.

https://www.google.nl/search?q=SR-71+USSR+flights&rlz=1C1GCEA_enNL772NL772&oq=SR-71+USSR+flights&aqs=chrome..69i57.4927j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:44 am

keesje wrote:
The SR-71 was made for violating USSR airspace & getting away with it.


yes, than a) Gary Powers was shot down and b) early testing showed that the intended "too quick for a target lock" didn´t really work.

best regards
Thomas
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:10 pm

YIMBY wrote:
Had some pilot shot a SR-71 just to show his ability would have earned something else than a feather in the head.


There is more than one way to take down an aircraft without shooting it down, remember the P-3 incident near China? You just need to fly some dangerous maneuver around or in front of a wounded SR-71 and you may have a good chance of taking it down without firing a shot.

bt
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:05 pm

keesje wrote:
Admitting you ecaped Sovjet airspace, fleeing into international airspace after engine trouble, with defense fighters on your tail is saying you broke international law. Which can't be the case. It' all miscommunication and fake aquisitions, the others did it too, etc, see.. The evil russian fighters were very aggresive above international waters and the Swedes got a medal for just being there..


There is no such thing as international law, and no international law enforcement body.

There are accords, agreements, treaties, and accepted norms, but no international law enforcement body.
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:53 pm

tommy1808 wrote:
keesje wrote:
The SR-71 was made for violating USSR airspace & getting away with it.


yes, than a) Gary Powers was shot down and b) early testing showed that the intended "too quick for a target lock" didn´t really work.

best regards
Thomas

Ummm...
1. The U-2 incident was in 1960...SR-71 didn't come around til later in the decade.
2. Really? Because the Soviets ended up developing the MiG-25 to intercept both the SR-71 and XB-70...and even though the 70 never flew operationally, the 71 continously outflew both SAM's and GCI aircraft's target locks
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:08 pm

YIMBY wrote:
kc135topboom wrote:
Getting a kill on an SR-71 would have been a big feather in some Soviet Officer's hat would have been worth it to them, even if it was a cheap kill on a disabled aircraft. Killing the Swedes would have meant nothing to them.


Killing an American plane over international waters would have been a serious act of war. That could have been justifiable only if the SR-71 had previously violated
grossly and intentionally the Soviet airspace which would also have been an act of war. Had some pilot shot a SR-71 just to show his ability would have earned something else than a feather in the head.

The story does not tell from where the SR-71 was returning from. The Baltic Express route flown regularly was over international waters and there has been no stories that the US would have flown such espionage flights over the Soviet Union in the 80's, when satellites did exist.

Hence I suspect that this was not a big thing. Other links (https://theaviationist.com/2018/11/29/t ... -airspace/) hint that it was rather to help a damaged aircraft to find home and follow it in case it would crash in the sea to help a potential rescue, and of course to get a feather in their hat as "intercepting" the rare bird.



I agree, the SR-71 did not go over Soviet airspace, quite apart from the ramifications of doing so, certainly by this time it would have had equipment with some stand off capability, along with of course those spysats.
It wasn't only USAF aircraft that met the Royal Swedish Air Force on the Baltic Express, pics exist of a RAF Nimrod R.1 being escorted by IIRC J-35's, you can bet USAF RC-135's too, probably those German modified ELINT Atantique's, the Baltic being their patch too.
The SR-71 in this incident was almost certainly on an ELINT mission too.

As to the question of post Gary Powers and the SR-71, the USSR could not assume the B-70 was buried, they probably thought if Goldwater or someone similar had become President, the production program might be restarted.
(As happened later, when the cancelled B-1 was later brought back albeit in modified form).
Plus you can argue that the USSR, being aware of a program to replace the U-2, (even before Powers was shot down), would develop the Mig-25 to deter that, if nothing else.
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:44 pm

AWACSooner wrote:
tommy1808 wrote:
keesje wrote:
The SR-71 was made for violating USSR airspace & getting away with it.


yes, than a) Gary Powers was shot down and b) early testing showed that the intended "too quick for a target lock" didn´t really work.

best regards
Thomas

Ummm...
1. The U-2 incident was in 1960...SR-71 didn't come around til later in the decade.
2. Really? Because the Soviets ended up developing the MiG-25 to intercept both the SR-71 and XB-70...and even though the 70 never flew operationally, the 71 continously outflew both SAM's and GCI aircraft's target locks


Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. By the '80's the Keyhole satellites were returning detailed enough pictures that there was no point in risking it and poking the bear (figuratively and literally) unless you absolutely needed to. Besides the fact that something could go wrong with the SR-71 over Soviet territory (such as the malfunction above), the Soviets could have developed capabilities that the US wasn't aware of, which is exactly how Powers got shot down. Why risk the political fallout and the possibility of turning over parts of a SR-71 unless there was something that justified the risk? I'm not saying that overflights were stopped completely, just that they weren't that frequent and the decision to do so was a serious one that went far up the chain of command before it was approved.

And to Thomas' comment, the SR-71 was never about "too quick to lock", it was about out-running the missile. There's a practical limit to how fast missiles can go. Delta-v requires fuel, a lot of fuel and it also imparts stress on the missile itself... which requires more rugged components which add weight which requires more thrust. As you add weight you also impinge on the missiles ability to maneuver without rapid unplanned disassembly. Without a break-through in materials you can pretty accurately define the performance range available.
Last edited by sandbender on Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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keesje
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:45 pm

FlyingSicilian wrote:
keesje wrote:
Admitting you ecaped Sovjet airspace, fleeing into international airspace after engine trouble, with defense fighters on your tail is saying you broke international law. Which can't be the case. It' all miscommunication and fake aquisitions, the others did it too, etc, see.. The evil russian fighters were very aggresive above international waters and the Swedes got a medal for just being there..


There is no such thing as international law, and no international law enforcement body.

There are accords, agreements, treaties, and accepted norms, but no international law enforcement body.


http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/international-law-and-justice/
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/07/ignored-rule-law-war-result-was-iraq-un-charter-foreign-office-lawyer-2003
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:08 pm

sandbender wrote:
Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. By the '80's the Keyhole satellites were returning detailed enough pictures that there was no point in risking it and poking the bear (figuratively and literally) unless you absolutely needed to. Besides the fact that something could go wrong with the SR-71 over Soviet territory (such as the malfunction above), the Soviets could have developed capabilities that the US wasn't aware of, which is exactly how Powers got shot down. Why risk the political fallout and the possibility of turning over parts of a SR-71 unless there was something that justified the risk? I'm not saying that overflights were stopped completely, just that they weren't that frequent and the decision to do so was a serious one that went far up the chain of command before it was approved.

And to Thomas' comment, the SR-71 was never about "too quick to lock", it was about out-running the missile. There's a practical limit to how fast missiles can go. Delta-v requires fuel, a lot of fuel and it also imparts stress on the missile itself... which requires more rugged components which add weight which requires more thrust. As you add weight you also impinge on the missiles ability to maneuver without rapid unplanned disassembly. Without a break-through in materials you can pretty accurately define the performance range available.


What if there was a follow on platform that was able to achieve even greater altitudes and higher speeds? So much so that the USSR couldn't ever touch it?
 
sandbender
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:03 pm

DigitalSea wrote:
sandbender wrote:
What if there was a follow on platform that was able to achieve even greater altitudes and higher speeds? So much so that the USSR couldn't ever touch it?


Perhaps but if there was superior platform available towards the end of the Cold War, I think we would have heard about it by now. It's possible it could have been kept a secret but I don't see how given the nature of the missions and the level of support it would have required. By definition it would either have to overfly or stage from other countries (friendly or impartial), at some point a break down would have required landing at a friendly base. There's no way that many people could have kept their mouths shut. So, possible but unlikely.

But even then it supposes that the Soviets couldn't have matched it which is a dangerous assumption. Soviet aerospace was limited by infrastructure and finances, not ingenuity or intellect. They also had to work under practical conditions. Logistically, I don't think the Soviet Air Force could have supported the SR-71 and the condition of the fields and the support crews available were something that had to be taken into account. The Soviet military was largely a conscription army. Experienced lifers were rare and generally tasked with making sure the conscripts didn't completely screw things up, by the time the conscripts were trained up they cycled out. Any country that can turn out the MIG-29 under the conditions Soviet aerospace was facing should not be taken lightly, they were more than capable of pulling together some nasty surprises despite everything.
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:53 pm

keesje wrote:
FlyingSicilian wrote:
keesje wrote:
Admitting you ecaped Sovjet airspace, fleeing into international airspace after engine trouble, with defense fighters on your tail is saying you broke international law. Which can't be the case. It' all miscommunication and fake aquisitions, the others did it too, etc, see.. The evil russian fighters were very aggresive above international waters and the Swedes got a medal for just being there..


There is no such thing as international law, and no international law enforcement body.

There are accords, agreements, treaties, and accepted norms, but no international law enforcement body.


http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/international-law-and-justice/
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/07/ignored-rule-law-war-result-was-iraq-un-charter-foreign-office-lawyer-2003



That is nice; has no bearing on what I typed nor refutes anything but nice for your bandwidth I guess?
Did you actually have something to say with regards to the incident at hand? Or the authoritative agency? I suspect not since it does not exist.
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RetiredWeasel
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:55 am

Every SR-71 pilot and commander including the Wing Commander at Beale AFB during the 80s that has given interviews and answered the question if they flew over Soviet Union airspace or Chinese mainland airspace will say no it was never authorized or tasked. The main reason is that no president since Eisenhower was willing to risk the embarrassment of a Gary Power's type fiasco.

On another note, an A-12 suffered shrapnel holes in it's skin after flying over North Vietnam in 1967. The pilot saw the 3 SA-2 detonations behind his aircraft and they determined it was most likely one of those SAMs. It was close to being the only Blackbird lost in combat.
 
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:46 am

AWACSooner wrote:
tommy1808 wrote:
keesje wrote:
The SR-71 was made for violating USSR airspace & getting away with it.


yes, than a) Gary Powers was shot down and b) early testing showed that the intended "too quick for a target lock" didn´t really work.

best regards
Thomas

Ummm...
1. The U-2 incident was in 1960...SR-71 didn't come around til later in the decade.


And when did the CIA ask to have that aircraft...

2. Really? Because the Soviets ended up developing the MiG-25 to intercept both the SR-71 and XB-70...and even though the 70 never flew operationally, the 71 continously outflew both SAM's and GCI aircraft's target locks


The one has nothing to do with the other.

Best regards
Thomas
This Singature is a safe space......
 
sandbender
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:05 am

tommy1808 wrote:
And when did the CIA ask to have that aircraft...


The initial request to Skunk Works was made late in 1957. The CIA approved the contract for the first dozen A-12s 11-Feb-1960, a few months before Powers was shot down.

The first A-12 flew 25-Apr-1962, the first SR-71 flew 22-Dec-1964.
 
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Balerit
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Sun Dec 09, 2018 8:22 am

GDB wrote:
YIMBY wrote:
kc135topboom wrote:
Getting a kill on an SR-71 would have been a big feather in some Soviet Officer's hat would have been worth it to them, even if it was a cheap kill on a disabled aircraft. Killing the Swedes would have meant nothing to them.


Killing an American plane over international waters would have been a serious act of war. That could have been justifiable only if the SR-71 had previously violated
grossly and intentionally the Soviet airspace which would also have been an act of war. Had some pilot shot a SR-71 just to show his ability would have earned something else than a feather in the head.

The story does not tell from where the SR-71 was returning from. The Baltic Express route flown regularly was over international waters and there has been no stories that the US would have flown such espionage flights over the Soviet Union in the 80's, when satellites did exist.

Hence I suspect that this was not a big thing. Other links (https://theaviationist.com/2018/11/29/t ... -airspace/) hint that it was rather to help a damaged aircraft to find home and follow it in case it would crash in the sea to help a potential rescue, and of course to get a feather in their hat as "intercepting" the rare bird.



I agree, the SR-71 did not go over Soviet airspace, quite apart from the ramifications of doing so, certainly by this time it would have had equipment with some stand off capability, along with of course those spysats.
It wasn't only USAF aircraft that met the Royal Swedish Air Force on the Baltic Express, pics exist of a RAF Nimrod R.1 being escorted by IIRC J-35's, you can bet USAF RC-135's too, probably those German modified ELINT Atantique's, the Baltic being their patch too.
The SR-71 in this incident was almost certainly on an ELINT mission too.

As to the question of post Gary Powers and the SR-71, the USSR could not assume the B-70 was buried, they probably thought if Goldwater or someone similar had become President, the production program might be restarted.
(As happened later, when the cancelled B-1 was later brought back albeit in modified form).
Plus you can argue that the USSR, being aware of a program to replace the U-2, (even before Powers was shot down), would develop the Mig-25 to deter that, if nothing else.


What a naive post or maybe you're trying to be a goody two shoes but we used to track the SR71's that were trying to spy on us, here in South Africa. There are interesting stories from the SAAF guys who monitored them, like drawing arrows on the ground, showing them where to exit our airspace, so yes I believe they would have done the same to the USSR and other countries, I mean why go to all that expence to develop the asset and then not use it to it's full potential. It was developed because of the Powers incident after all.
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sandbender
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:25 am

Balerit wrote:
What a naive post or maybe you're trying to be a goody two shoes but we used to track the SR71's that were trying to spy on us, here in South Africa. There are interesting stories from the SAAF guys who monitored them, like drawing arrows on the ground, showing them where to exit our airspace, so yes I believe they would have done the same to the USSR and other countries, I mean why go to all that expence to develop the asset and then not use it to it's full potential. It was developed because of the Powers incident after all.


Not to malign the sovereignty of South Africa but at the time there was a world of difference between an overflight of the USSR and an overflight of South Africa. One act could start a full scale nuclear war, the other a diplomatic row. It doesn't mean it was right but the risks associated were both were not equivalent.
 
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Balerit
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:15 pm

An excellent chapter from the revised edition of Paul Crickmore's "Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond the Secret Missions". I believe that chapter (Chapter 13: Squaring up over the Barents Sea) was one of the sections added to the revised edition. In fact, the whole book is probably the best book available on the Blackbird with a huge amount of detail and great photographs throughout. The chapter on the MiG-25 and MiG-31 gives all that additional information on how the other side responded to it, and it does give a good counter-balance to the long-held belief that the SR-71 was invulnerable.


A shortened extract from an Aviation Greek pub article on one pilots intercepts of the SR71:


MIG-31 PILOT EXPLAINS HOW TO INTERCEPT & SHOOT DOWN AN SR-71 SPY PLANE

In the Aviationgeekclub article a retired Soviet MiG-31 pilot, Major Mikhail Myagkiy, recalls techniques used during practice intercept attempts on SR-71 Blackbirds participating in Peacetime Aerial Reconnaissance Operations Program (PAROP) missions to the Barents Sea area. Russian military aviation writer Valery Romanenko has undertaken detailed research for Paul F Crickmore’s book Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond the Secret Missions (Revised Edition), and with the help of translators James F. Gebhardt, Ilya Grinberg and Dr Heinz Berger, the fruits of an
interview with Maj Mikhail Myagkiy are detailed below.



In 1972, the Mikoyan OKB began working on a new design destined to replace the MiG-25 interceptors. Designed around two D-30F-6 afterburning turbofans, the aircraft would have both a lower top speed and ceiling than the MiG-25PD: however, this fourth generation interceptor, equipped with a weapons-control system based on the SBI-16 Zaslon (ASCC “Flash Dance”) phased-array radar, enabled its two crewmembers to intercept and destroy
targets in either the front or rear hemisphere, day or night, in any weather conditions and while operating in a passive or an active jamming environment and flying at high supersonic speeds. Designated the MiG-31, the type’s final Act of Acceptance was signed in December 1981 and deliveries to PVO units began in 1982.

Military 1st Class Pilot Mikhail Myagkiy, Guards Major (ret.), is one of the PVO (Protivovozdushnoy Ororony or air defence force) pilots who executed intercepts of the SR-71 near the border of USSR in the far north. Between 1984 and 1987, he was a Mikoyan MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’ commander with the 174th Gvardeiskaya Istrebeitel’nyi Aviatsionnyi Polk (GvIAP, Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment). During this period he conducted 14 successful SR-71 intercepts

Myagkiy graduated from Armavir VVAKUL PVO (Higher Military Aviation Red Banner Academy of Pilots of the PVO) in 1977. He started his front-line service on the Sukhoi Su-9 “Fishpot”. He then qualified as a 1st Class Pilot on the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23ML ‘Flogger G’, having accumulated approximately 600 hours of total flying time. At that time he held the rank of captain.

In 1983, only two regiments flew the MiG-31. The 786th IAP at Pravdinsk (near Gorkiy) was the first of these units, followed by the 174th GvIAP at Monchegorsk (near Murmansk). Before operating the MiG-31, the 174th GvIAP flew the Yakovlev Yak-28P ‘Firebar’. During the transition to the MiG-31, many pilots left the unit — apparently, they did not want to master the new aircraft. The majority of the remaining 174th trainees were weapon systems operators (WSOs). Therefore pilots had to be selected from other regiments because at that time only 1st Class Pilots were being selected to fly the MiG-31.

Consequently, the PVO’s 14th Air Army was required to supply one pilot. At that time Captain Myagkiy was acting as a flight commander. Transfer onto the MiG-31 meant a reduction in position, since the air army commander did not release pilots from their permanent duty positions, but allowed transfer to temporary positions. Myagkiy arrived at the 174th GvLkP in October 1983. The regiment had already been flying the MiG-31 for 18 months and had frequently flown missions against the SR-71

Mikhail Myagkiy executed his first mission against the SR-71 from a combat readiness posture on Aug. 21, 1984. According to his recollection, the procedures for a successful intercept were crazy and completely inadequate when considered against the threat posed by the SR-71’s spy flights. The speed and altitude of the American aircraft simply hypnotized everyone. Therefore, each attempted SR-71 interception was considered a top priority, not only for fighter aviation but also for the PVO’s entire 10th Army. The ground vectoring station on Rybachiy Peninsula typically made the first ‘sighting’. Intercepting aircraft then took off from all the airfields in the north where weather permitted. A mistake at any level — by a pilot, the ground personnel, a command post, or a ground vectoring station — brought with it the threat of a military tribunal (court-martial).

Each fighter regiment executed an intercept in its own sector. For the 174th GvIAP, this was the sector of the Soviet border from Kharlovka to Cape Svyatoy Nos. For the unit’s MiG-31 crews, 16 minutes elapsed from the moment the alert was sounded to the take-off command being given. Of this time, two minutes were used to put on the VKK-3 (vysotnyy kompensiruyushchiy kostyum, or altitude-compensating suit), two minutes to run 50 to 60m (55 to 66 yards) in the VKK and get strapped into the aircraft, and the remainder of the time to check out the systems, start engines, and taxi. After 16 minutes the fighter would be parked at the end of the runway, with its engines running, fully prepared for take-off.

When the SR-71 alert was first given, the technical personnel ran to the aircraft and initially removed its R-60 (AA-8 Aphid’) short-range missiles because they would be disabled at velocities above Mach 1.75 (the standard MiG-31 ordnance load included four R-60s and four long-range R-33s (AA-9 ‘Amos’)). Before the aircraft was launched, its inertial navigation system (INS) had to be activated in minimum time. As soon as the green lights confirming that the INS was aligned came on (after approximately 3 minutes), the engines could be fired up.

The two crews of the ready flight prepared immediately. Everything was accomplished in a somewhat tense environment: since these aircraft were from first production series, there were occasions of system failure, particularly during the turning off of ground power. If the ground power plug was pulled out too abruptly, the INS system malfunctioned. The crew that managed to reach full readiness first was the crew that launched. Having received permission to taxi, the aircraft took up a position at the end of the runway. Here, the crews sometimes had to ‘cool their jets’ for several minutes. The scheme for intercepting the SR-71 was computed down to the second, and therefore the MiGs had to launch exactly 16 minutes after the initial alert. During this period of time, the ground
vectoring station determined what route (out route or return route) the SR-71 was following.

Five minutes after take-off, the MiG was already at an altitude of 16000m (52,493ft). The afterburners would still be lit and the crew experiencing significant g. In addition, the MiG-31 had a disconcerting idiosyncrasy – at high supersonic speeds (above Mach 2.35), the control stick moved all the way forward, pushing up against the instrument panel. The pilot had to extend his arm fully, which was very uncomfortable and quickly caused fatigue.

However, the MiG-31 was significantly more benign in its flight characteristics at supersonic speeds than the
MiG-25. The great weight of the MiG-31’s onboard equipment and systems had an effect on its performance compared to the ‘Foxbat’, but its instrumentation was significantly greater and a generation more modem.

During an SR-71 intercept, many commonly accepted practices were broken. For example, take-off was executed in a northerly direction, while normal procedure called for a take-off to the south. A number of limitations were also removed: for example, the altitude for the transition to supersonic flight was established as 11,000m (36,089ft), but during SR-71 intercepts Soviet aircraft were permitted to pass through the sound barrier at 8,000m (26,247ft). Ground vectoring was usually conducted at an altitude of 16,000m (52,493ft), but during an attack, the MiG-31s reached 18,500-19,500m (60,696-63,976ft) (aiming to establish the best missile launch trajectory, the MiGs gained as much altitude as they could, right up to 20,000m (65,617ft)).

Information about the Blackbird normally arrived at the command post when the spy plane was three hours out (this information coming from a radio intercept station). As the SR-71s flew out of Mildenhall, conversations between their crews and those of their supporting tankers were `captured’ during in-flight refueling, so if tankers showed up, the IA-PV0 waited for the SR-71.

The standard SR-71 route was normally loop-shaped. If the spyplane appeared from the direction of Norway, it tracked toward the White Sea, farther to the north toward Novaya Zemlya, then turned around on a reverse course to the west over the Arctic Ocean. This track was called a ‘straight loop’. If it initially flew from the direction of the Arctic Ocean toward Novaya Zemlya, then south toward the White Sea, then to the west along the coast of the USSR toward Norway, its track was called the ‘return loop’. The tactics of the intercept were geared toward the type of loop the spy plane was flying.

The SR-71 was intercepted using only a thermal channel (infrared, IR). The massive IR emissions of its engines permitted it to be detected at a distance of 100-120km (62-75 miles). The MiG-31’s thermal detection system was called OMB (or optical multifunctional apparatus) and was mounted in the lower nose of the aircraft. The device was lowered and turned on by the WSO. The MiG’s radar was not turned on. On combat alert, the radar was set on a combat frequency, and in order not to expose this frequency to a ‘probable enemy’, the radar was not turned on. A passive system (the thermal apparatus) was adequate for a reliable intercept.

After the capture of the target by the OMB, a target indicator showing the range to the target appeared on the sistema edinoy indikatsii (SEI, unified display system) in the pilot’s head-up display (HUD). A voice indicator, using a pleasant female voice (known as ‘Rita to the crews), announced `Attack!’. The range to the target was calculated by the aircraft’s BTsVM (onboard digital computer), using a triangulation method that employed other onboard sensors. This was very good, because, for example, on the MG-25 the pilot did not receive range to target data as it was only passed from ground vectoring stations. Also, the ZDR (or zone of a range of missiles, basically the engagement envelope for che missiles) was projected on the HUD.

After the ‘Attack!’ signal, missile preparation began. Targeting instructions were handed off to thegokvka samonavedeniya (GSN, the missile seeker head). Four green triangles appeared on the image of the MiG in the cockpit display after the missiles had been prepared for launch.

The bortovaya radiolokatsionnaya stantsiya (BRLS, onboard radar) was turned on only in the event that the vectoring station issued an order to destroy the target. In this case, the WSO would turn the radar on. Information regarding the target would then be instantly transferred from the OMB to the radar. After this, the pilot had only to push the firing button and the missiles would be launched.

If the SR-71 had violated Soviet airspace, a live missile launch would have been carried out. There was practically no chance that the aircraft could avoid an R-33. But in the early 1980s the Blackbirds did not violate the border, although they sometimes ‘tickled’ it (came right up to it). Indeed, local counter-intelligence dreamt of finding pieces of the SR-71, if not on land then in the territorial waters of the USSR. Mikhail Myagkiy particularly remembers his eighth intercept, when he managed to gain visual contact with an SR-71, and not just in the form of a spot on a screen. As a keepsake, he preserved the printout of the recording from the ‘black box’ through which all the intercept data was processed.

Here is how he describes that flight: “I went on combat alert on 31 January 1986 as normal. I drew my personal weapon in the morning and then headed for the on-duty crew hut. “They alerted us for an SR-71 intercept at approximately 11:00. They sounded the alarm with a shrill bell and then confirmed it with a loudspeaker. To this day I have been averse even to ordinary school bells because a bell was the first signal for a burst of adrenaline. The
appearance of an SR-71 was always accompanied by nervousness. Everyone began to talk in frenzied voices, to scurry about, and react to the situation with excessive emotion.

“I ran to put on my VKK and GSh-6 [germashlem, flight helmet], and over that a fur-lined flight jacket with IPS [individualnaya podvesnaya systema, parachute harness], and ran the 60m [55 yards] to the aircraft. I was not flying with my own WSO, but with Aleksey Parshin, our flight WSO. When I sat down and was being strapped in (it was simple and convenient to be strapped in wearing a jacket and IPS, which is why we flew in them), the readiness lamps for the INS were lit. I pressed the engine start button, reported to the command post, and immediately received the command to taxi to the runway. We sat on the runway for about five minutes; my WSO ‘read the prayer’ [loudly went through the pre-takeoff checklist].

“After the take-off order from the command post, we lit the afterburners and took off. Our take-off speed was approximately 360km/h [224mph]. Not coming off afterburners, we went for altitude with a 60° right bank and turned to a course of 100°. We attained 8,000m [26,247ft] and reached the horizontal area (for acceleration) in which we passed through the sound barrier. Here vectoring station `Gremikha’ had already assumed responsibility for vectoring us. Our indicated speed at this time was 1,190km/h [739mph]. We went for altitude again, up to 16,000m [52,493ft]. At 16,000m we were flying at Mach 2.3 and made a left turn to a combat course of 360°. The WSO lowered and turned on the OMB and within five seconds had captured the target. A feminine voice in the earphones announced, Attack’, and a symbol was illuminated on the SEI. The SR-71 was proceeding on the ‘return loop’, from east to west, so we began the intercept immediately.

“As usual, we executed an ‘aiming run’ from 16,000m, gaining altitude to 18,900m [62,008ft]. After closing to 60km [37 miles] I spotted the contrail of the SR-71 on an intersecting course. I reported the heading to my WSO over the SPU [samoletnoye peregovornoye ustroystvo, intercom], ‘I have visual!’ A contrail at 22,000-23,000m [69,000-72,000ft] is very rare, but on this day the weather was excellent and the air was transparent, and the contrail was clearly visible. I passed under the spyplane: it was 3,000-4,000m [8,843-13,123ft] above us, and even managed to make out its black silhouette. The SR-71 was flying over the ocean ever so carefully on a track 60km [37 miles] out from, and parallel to, the coast. I reported ‘we’re breaking of to the command post and came off afterburners. We had been airborne for 15 minutes 40 seconds.

“The Blackbird was flying its normal route, over neutral waters, and it made no sense to follow it. Therefore the vectoring station gave the command to turn onto a course for our airfield. We dropped down to 15,000m [49,212ft], transitioned to horizontal flight, and engaged a stopwatch. This was the so-called ‘area for canopy cooling’. During flight at speeds in excess of Mach 2, the skin, including the canopy, heated up to 800°C. Therefore it was necessary to cool it. Failure to do so might result in cracking or catastrophic failure during subsequent altitude reduction. Our speed remained in the order of Mach 1.6.

“After 30 seconds we once again began to lose altitude. We went subsonic at the normal 12,000m [39,370ft]. Dropping down to 8,000m [26,247ft], we tracked toward our airfield. After the last vector was issued the command center handed us off to our regiment command post, which directed me to a checkpoint at an altitude of 4,100m [13,451ft]. At 32km [20 miles] out from the airfield, I lowered the gear and began to descend. We conducted a
straight-in landing at a speed of 310km/h [193mph]. The entire flight had lasted 50 minutes. “During the 15 to 20 minutes when I was on a combat course, the second alert crew was sitting on the ground with engines running. Later they shut down their engines, but the pilot and WSO sat in their aircraft in readiness until our landing.

“This was the only occasion in my 14 intercepts when I saw the SR-71 with my own eyes. It was obvious that a combination of circumstances facilitated this event: good weather that was rare in the north, clear air and unusual atmospheric conditions when the contrail was clearly visible at an altitude of 23,000m [75,459ft].” Mikhail Myagkiy retired in 1992 with the rank of guards major at the age of 36. A review of his logbook reveals the following SR-71 intercepts:

21 August 1984
14 March 1985
18 March 1985
15 April 1985
17 July 1985
19 December 1985
20 January 1986
31 January 1986
21 February 1986
28 February 1986
1 April 1986
6 October 1986
23 December 1986
8 January 1987
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:02 pm

IMO, the OP article is probably incomplete or inaccurate.

At face value it is hard to see what the Viggen pilots actually did. There is not even any reference to the SR71 being in danger.

My hunch is that either the SR71 was in Soviet airspace at some point, or that they were pursued into International airspace by Soviet fighters.
 
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LaunchDetected
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:32 am

From the article, nothing really interesting happened in the frame of the Cold War.

The fact that this whole story is unveiled now is surely related to the current political situation. With a Sweden taken between a NATO looking for expansion against the "Russian threat".

"Hey, Sweden, just look at how we were close friends back in the day."
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Re: Swedish pilots presented with U.S. Air Medal regarding SR71 incident in 1987

Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:44 am

Balerit wrote:
..


Interesting read, thnx!

When this was published (2004) comunication with russian former militairy / test pilots / research people was open, nice, interesting. Now we are back in a good / bad, us / them era. And factual information gets killed by ideological agenda's.

I remember in 1991 the russians came to Le Bourget, to show off what was under the hood of the MIG31 (a huge phased array radar).

Zero sales / export intentions, but a very narrow target group :wink2:

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