It’s well known that the United States has gone to great lengths to acquire – and flight test – former Soviet fighter planes under top secret programmes like Have Doughnut and subsequent designations, carried out by shadowy test squadrons like the Red Hats. This satellite image of Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida shows a Russian MiG-23 Flogger and MiG-29 Fulcrum parked between three F-4 Phantoms. But why?
Since the Cold War, U.S.-operated MiGs have traditionally flown from the Groom Lake test facility, better known as Area 51. Some have found their way to museums, despite a continued shroud of secrecy cloaking their origins. The information accompanying a MiG-21 at Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, for instance, mysteriously says “origins unknown”.
This forum claims the MiG-29 is a former Moldovan Air Force jet that had been at Tyndall AFB since the early 1990s. Since the satellite photo was taken (2007), the Fulcrum appears to have moved to Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona (shown above). On the museum’s website, it’s serial number is listed as “unknown”. The mystery continues.