America’s MiG Air Force

by DAVID AXE

For at least 35 years the U.S. military has operated Soviet- and Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi jet fighters.

Speaking at an Air Force Association event in Virginia on Tuesday, Jack Manclark, former U.S. Air Force test director, described overseeing Constant Peg, a once classified program that ran from 1977 to 1988.

When Manclark took over in 1985, the Constant Peg initiative included 26 MiG-21s and MiG-23s acquired through undisclosed channels, Manclark said. Constant Peg’s 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron reportedly once also operated 1960s–vintage MiG-17s from its base in Utah’s Tonopah Test Range.

The Pentagon declassified Constant Peg in 2006.

The U.S. military continued operating MiGs and Sukhoi fighters after Constant Peg ended. In 1997 the Defense Department purchased 21 modern MiG-29s from Moldova and passed them to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where they were studied for insights into their performance.

(By this time, the U.S. air arms had already been exposed to former East German MiG-29s inherited by the unified German air force.)

The Moldovan MiGs were reportedly in bad condition. At least a few of these jets — or possibly other MiG-29s acquired from other sources — were maintained in flying condition and ended up at the Air Force’s secretive Groom Lake facility in Nevada, as seen in the 2003 amateur video above.

The 2003 video also appeared to show Su-27s, variants of which are the current frontline fighters in China, Russia and other nations. It’s not clear where the Su-27s came from.

In 2009 Nevada firm Tac Air bought two Su-27s from Ukraine for its dissimilar combat training business. After the purchase, Tac Air boasted about being “the first company offering fourth-generation fighter training support.”

No word on whether the U.S. has managed to get its hands on modern Chinese fighters such as the J-10.

This entry was posted in David Axe, English, General Knowledge.

7 Responses to America’s MiG Air Force

  1. Fred says:

    Thx for this very intersting article. Did the USAF puplish some pics with foreign jets and with US markings on them?

  2. Pingback: War Is Boring » Photos: America’s MiG Air Force

  3. steve says:

    I think the Brigade.com website had at least one such picture recently. I understand that the US acquired a MiG 15 around 1951 through clandstine means, transported it, and had Chuck Yeager and others test fly it to see what capabilties and deficiencies were in the bird. I recall that for the purposes of not alarming the public if somehow the bird was seen, there were USAF markings applied picture 37 at the link here http://thebrigade.thechive.com/2012/07/24/it-had-a-funny-nick-name-but-the-mig-15-was-no-joke-30-hq-photos/

  4. Pingback: "It Would Accelerate Until it Blew Up" | MaritimeSecurity.Asia

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