In the early fall of 1976, an international scandal erupted: Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko, who served in the Far East, escaped to Japan on the latest MiG-25 fighter, and then asked for political asylum in the United States. In the USSR, he left behind a wife and a 4-year-old child, whom he never saw again. Abroad he was called a dissident, and at home he is still considered a traitor, deserter and spy.
In early September 1976, Marshal Savitsky arrived in the Far East to check the combat readiness of the air defense forces. On this day, the pilots had training flights, and they knew that they needed to be performed flawlessly. During a training exercise, Belenko's plane disappeared from the radar. He suddenly gained altitude, and then began to dive into the sea. It looked like some kind of technical malfunction led to the crash of the plane and the death of the pilot. Duty planes and helicopters immediately lifted into the air. Later it turned out that the pilot had deceived the radars: he went down, simulating a fall, and then disappeared behind a huge hill.
On the island of Hokkaido, Japanese air defense aircraft were alerted. As soon as they managed to track the unknown object, he immediately disappeared. As it turned out, he abruptly descended and landed at the nearest civil airfield. The pilot got off the plane and immediately demanded to hide him from prying eyes. The fugitive then applied for political asylum in the United States.
They did not believe in Belenko's escape for a long time: they thought that the reason for such actions was some kind of breakdown or a technical error, and the landing was forced, that the plane got into a zone of poor visibility and lost its course, that the pilot was taken hostage and held by force, and on interrogations use psychotropic drugs.
In 1976, the news announced that a Soviet plane had made an emergency landing at an airfield in Japan, brought Belenko's mother and wife to Moscow, where they denied at a press conference the version that the pilot could have asked for asylum abroad and begged for his immediate return. home.
The MiG-25 would like to get the intelligence of the whole world, since it was an aircraft of a unique design, with a record speed and flight altitude, the most modern and most secret fighter of the USSR Air Force. All bases, on which the MiG-25 aircraft were, were guarded by special paratrooper units.
The USSR demanded that the pilot and the plane be returned immediately. While international negotiations were underway, the fighter was disassembled and shipped in containers to the United States. There it was thoroughly studied, and the plane ceased to be a secret weapon of the USSR. The Japanese returned the fighter only two months later, disassembled. The damage was estimated at 2 billion rubles. I had to hastily change the "friend or foe" identification system on all aircraft. As a result, the USSR received compensation of 7, 7 million rubles.
Belenko was an excellent combatant and a first-class pilot. But those who knew him said that the pilot was too ambitious and ambitious and believed that his merits were not appreciated. Theories about his recruitment were also put forward. They said that such actions were more like a well-prepared action than an impulsive act of a dissident dissatisfied with the political system. It was assumed that he was supposed to land the plane at a US military base in Japan, but he was afraid that he might be shot down, and landed at a nearby airfield.
The strangeness in his behavior had been noticed by his colleagues for a long time: he preferred to spend his vacation in a small Far Eastern town, while he did not talk about how he had a rest, learned English, rushed to join a squadron of fighters, although due to age restrictions he could no longer count on promotion.
After Belenko's escape, all military aircraft began to be refueled with the expectation of completing only one mission, so that there was not enough fuel to fly abroad.
After moving to the United States, the pilot was in the spotlight of the press. He lectured at one of the military academies as an expert in the study of Soviet air defense aircraft systems, spoke at symposia, ending his reports with a story about the horrors of Soviet reality. For his contribution to strengthening America's national security, Belenko received US citizenship. He soon married an American woman and lived with her for 15 years. Belenko was soon fired from the military academy, because he was no longer of interest to the special services. Little is known about his future fate. According to some sources, he still lives in the United States. Others claim that Viktor Belenko divorced his wife, began to abuse alcohol, spent the last years alone and died in 2006 either in a car accident or from a heart attack. Whether he was a recruited spy or just a deserter is still a mystery.
Belenko was not the only fugitive to create an international scandal. Swim from the USSR: the most daring escape, which was silent for a long time