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Retro Pic of the Day: F-15s Intercepting MiG-29s

by John Reed on February 16, 2012

Happy Thursday. Let’s start things off with this great picture of two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles out of Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska intercepting a pair of Soviet MiG-29s over the Bering Sea back in the day.

The shot, taken in 1989, shows the wingman crossing over the lead jet’s contrail in order to position himself behind the MiGs should he need to open fire on them with the lead fighter zooms up parallel the MiGs to get a visual ID of the Soviet planes. The wingman, now trailing both the formation leader and the Soviet planes, can monitor all the jets in the air while positioning himself to fire. The pic was taken from the gun camera of one of two other F-15s that were right behind the jets shown.

Interceptions like this were commonplace around the globe during the Cold War as NATO and Warsaw Pact jets constantly skirted the borders of their potential enemies testing reaction times and collecting intelligence. The practice still goes on, as I’m sure you know.  Russia has resumed the practice of sending long range bomber patrols to skirt borders of the  U.S. and other NATO states recently.

Remember, these intercepts don’t always go smoothly; think back to the U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries surveillance plane that collided with the Chinese fighter sent to intercept it back in 2001. The Chinese jet crashed and the pilot died while the American intel plane was forced to make an emergency landing at a Chinese airfield where it was held for a while.

Via David Cenciotti.

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