INDIAN AIRFORCE MiG-25 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-25) (NATO reporting name: Foxbat) is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that was among the fastest military aircraft to enter service. It was designed by the Soviet Union's Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau. The first prototype flew in 1964, and the aircraft entered service in 1970. It has an operational top speed of Mach 2.83 (Mach 3.2 is possible but at risk of significant damage to the engines), and features a powerful radar and four air-to-air missile
The MiG-25 entered service with the IAF in 1981. We bought the reconnaissance version which was a very high altitude, fast flying aircraft capable of flying over enemy territory too fast and too high to be shot down by anything our neighbours to the north or west had. The version we had was the MiG-25RB for reconnaissance and the two seat MiG-25U for conversion training. In their 25 year career with the IAF the MiG-25's flew several top secret reconnaissance missions over hostile territory of our two unfriendly neighbours with impunity taking countless high definition photographs, radar images of the situation on the ground and in addition recorded interesting electronic emissions from the other side of the fence. The interceptors and SAMs (Surface to Air Missile) our opponents possessed could not catch it or reach it. The Mig-25 was not a traditional dogfight interceptor. It was more of a missile with a man in it. The word or name MiG comes from the surnames of the designers Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich who were the brains trust behind the MiG design bureau that bore their name.
The MiG-25RB's with the IAF were pure reconnaissance aircraft equipped without interception capability. They relied on their speed and altitude to stay safe. Our aircraft were equipped with cameras in the nose, a SLAR (Side Looking Airborne Radar) and almost surely ELINT devices to gather electronic intelligence. An SLAR, especially one with a synthetic aperture, paints 3D images of what it 'sees' on the ground. The IAF's MiG-25's flew 10 to 25 sorties a month - definitely along the line of control with China and Pakistan but also surely into the airspace of our two neighbours though this will, understandably, never be acknowledged.
In May 1997, an IAF Mikoyan MiG-25RB reconnaissance aircraft created a furore when the pilot flew faster than Mach 2 over Islamabad following a reconnaissance mission into Pakistan airspace. The Foxbat broke the sound barrier while flying at an altitude of around 65,000 feet over Islamabad to pique the Pakistanis where otherwise the mission would have remained covert at least to the general public. The sonic boom was heard through most of Islamabad and created quite a ripple.