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The Invincible Fox

Mig-25 Foxbat

In May 1997, an Indian Mig-25 reconnaisance aircraft made headlines after it was detected in Pakistani Airspace. The aircraft would have gone unnoticed had the IAF pilot not broken the sound barrier, causing a huge sonic boom over Islamabad. The noise, which resembled explosions, caused panic amongst the residents of Islamabad. The Pakistan Air Force(PAF) immediately scrambled their American made F-16's, armed with sidewinder missiles. However the Mig-25 flew beyond the range of Pakistani air defences and interceptor capabilities, well over 65,000 feet.

The Pakistani airforce later issued a statement that an Indian MIG-25 had violated its air space and they either could not, would not, intercept it. Pakistani Foreign minister Gohar Ayub Khan said that the airspace violation by an Indian Mig-25 fighter jet could not be repulsed, because Pakistan did not have any aircraft or missile or other defence capability to intercept aircrafts at 72,000 feet. Pakistan armed forces alleged that the aircraft was photographing very sensitive sites. They used this as an excuse to lobby for a hike in the defence budget. Questions were raised in Parliament, India said the intrusion into Pakistani airspace was accidental. This incident highlighted the fact that Pakistan has nothing in its inventory that can shoot down the Foxbat.

India aquired 12 Mig-25 Foxbats fron the Soviet Union in the 80's. Of the 12 Foxbats, 10 are MiG-25R and 2 MiG-25U(trainers), they form the No.102 Trisonics Squadron in Bakshi-ka-Talab (Bareilly). In 1987, when there was a confrontation between the Pakistani and Indian armed forces, there were some gaps in the Indian intelligence on the location of Pakistan's armoured division and southern strategic reserve. The Indian Air Force chief sought Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's authorisation to fly a MiG-25 photo reconnaissance sortie over Pakistan to fix their exact locations. Rajiv Gandhi refused permission on the grounds that such a flight during a time of tension would constitute provocation. Recently Pakistan made a desperate attempt to buy some remaining MiG-25's left in the Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan. The Turkmenistan government refused to sell, so as not to offend India.

President Narayanan visiting Bareilly Airbase: Mig-25 in background.

On October 24 1995, during the Solar Eclipse, Indian Scientists attempted to pin down the exact diameter of the sun-which today still remains unknown, by precisely measuring the sun's shadow cast on the earth. Three Indian Air Force planes were deployed with cameramen and scientists to examine the umbra. Separately, a pair of IAF MiG-25 fighters were fitted with equipment to photograph the outer solar corona and also the dust rings around it, in the darkest, clearest possible sky.

Dr. Arvind Bhatnagar of the Udaipur Solar Observatory supervised the MiG-25 aircraft flying at 80,000 feet altitude as they traveled along the path of the eclipse at 3,000 km/h, gaining several precious minutes of observation denied to researchers stuck on the ground. The copilot's took direct and polarization images. A Canberra aircraft flew at 40,000 feet with the same apparatus.

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