Israel Got Its Hands On (And Flew) 1 of Russia’s Deadly MiG-29 Fighters

Israel Got Its Hands On (And Flew) 1 of Russia’s Deadly MiG-29 Fighters

Dario Leone


What did Israel do with it?

The evaluation was a costly affair, but provided the valuable data on threat aircraft previously acquired only through captured examples.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) was keen to get a first-hand look at the systems and performance of the MiG-29 Fulcrum once it began to appear on Syrian soil.

It has been reported that Israel obtained a nearly complete, crated, MiG-29 via a covert deal with a Polish general. The aircraft was at Gdansk awaiting shipment to Syria, but was instead put on a plane and flown to Israel in late 1985. The Soviets soon got wind of this and demanded its return. Because the Israelis were then attempting to foster good relations with the Soviet Union, they complied in about February 1986. The aircraft parts had been examined and photographed, but it is doubtful that anything more had been accomplished during the episode.

As explained by Bill Norton in his book Air War On The Edge: A History of the Israel Air Force and its aircraft since 1947, during 1991, Israel borrowed a MiG-29 radar from Germany in a deal that involved a considerable number of Soviet weapons sold or loaned to the Israelis. These included up-to-date T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs) shipped to Israel, but listed on officially falsified shipping documents as ‘agricultural equipment’. The radar came from one of the former East German MiG-29s that had recently become accessible to the West via the re-unification of Germany. After a thorough technical evaluation, the unit was returned to its owner.

While useful, the radar evaluation alone did not provide a fraction of the answers the IAF sought: only the full-up jet would suffice.

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