On 6 September, 1976, the fate of the MiG-25P interceptor was significantly influenced. On that day, a pilot serving with a Russian Far East-deployed ADF air regiment, Senior Lieutenant
V. Belenko, defected to Japan in his MiG-25P which he landed at the Hakodate airport (on the island of Hokkaido), thus revealing the top secret plane to western experts. Despite the plane having been returned to the USSR quickly, the American experts had enough time to turn it inside out so as to study the MiG's design and systems. This resulted in the Council of Ministers' order issued as soon as on the fourth day to take urgent steps to upgrade the aircraft's weapons suite. The order provided for development of the MiG-25PD (MiG-25-40D intercept complex) intended to be expeditiously put into series production to replace the MiG-25P, as well as for retrofitting all existing planes of the type in accordance with the new
The new weapons suite was to hit faster targets at higher altitudes, feature greater detection and tracking range, ground-attack capability as well as the dogfight capability. It was also supposed to provide the aircraft with a better anti-jamming protection and the surprise attack capability due to the employment of the IR sensor as a passive detection means. The new weapons suite was derived from that of the MiG-23ML fighter and comprised the Saphhire-25 (N005) radar derived from the Saphire-23ML (N003) radar, TP-26Sh1 infrared sensor and upgraded R-40DR and R-40DT radar and IR homing AAMs with their homers 'borrowed' from the R-24R radar and R-24T heatseeker homing missiles, as well as R-60 (R-60M) short-range air-to-air missiles. The plane was powered by R15BD-300 enhanced life-span engines featuring newer accessory gearboxes with generators to provide power supply to the Sapphire-25 radar. The aircraft was also fitted with a modified SAU-155PD automatic control system. Some of the communications equipment was also replaced. There was a provision made for mounting a 5,300-litre underbelly drop tank, which would increase the range up to the 2,400 km.
In 1977, at the Gorky-based aircraft plant production of three aircraft, namely, #305, 306, 307, was started under the MiG-25PD programme. The first of them was taken on its maiden flight on 19 November, 1977 by test-pilot V.E. Menitsky with the testing of the other two following in 1978. Besides, the MiG-25P served as a base for deriving in 1977 of a LL-1104 flying lab to develop the SAU-155PD automatic control system, modernised targeting system and other systems. Phase B of the joint official testing was being held during September 1978 - February 1979 with the whole MiG-25-40D intercept complex being included into the inventory in 1980. The MiG-25PD series manufacture at the Gorky plant (Sokol NGAZ nowadays) had been underway since 1978 till 1984 resulting in the total of 150 plus aircraft, some of which were exported to Iraq (20), Syria (30, 6 PU) and Algeria (17). The export versions mounted the Smerch-A2 radar which ensured the firing of the R-60M missile.
This designation was issued to the MiG-25Ps retrofitted at aircraft repair plants to meet the MiG-25PD standard. The modernisation consisted in replacing the RP-25 Smerch radar by the S-25 Sapphire-25 radar, R15B-300 engines by R-15BD-300 ones as well as of some over equipment, and in making the plane able to fire the R-40DR radar- and R-40DT IR-homing air-to-air missiles as well as R-60 missiles. The first two aircraft were re-equipped at the Air Force repair plant in 1978 with their official testing held during March-June 1979. The retrofitting of all the MiG-25P's into the MiG-25PDS version was completed in 1983.
In 1982, one of the MiG-25PDS (reg. #7011) was fitted with ECM equipment to provide individual and collective protection from enemy radar- and IR-homing air-to-air and air-to ground missiles. The equipment comprised the Beryoza-LE radar warning receiver (RWR), Geranium ECM system and KDS-155 flare dispenser. The flight testing was completed in 1983. Later, another aircraft was converted for the same purpose. It was designated MiG-25PDSL (reg. #94). It was equipped with the Beryoza-LM RWR, Gardenia-1FU active ECM system mounted in the external pod, as well as chaff and flare dispenser. Its flight testing commenced in 1985.
This was the programme aimed at upgrading the MiG-25PD interceptor through replacement of the Sapphire-25 radar by the Sukhoi Su-27's RLPK-27 radar or MiG-29's RLPK-29UM radar and some other avionics by newer units. The preliminary design was ready in 1985.
In air force of Russia the MiG-25P are replaced with an airplane of new generation the MiG-31.
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