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

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.

  • Lew

    That is an outstanding picture in so many ways, true aviation art. Any chance of a higher-rez post?

  • Dollom

    I thought this pic is from when Soviet fighters visited Elmendorf AFB on invitation from the USAF…?

    • Allen

      It was, just more “stellar” fact-checking from DT…….

  • jamesb

    Great Picture….
    The less of this the better….
    As mentioned stuff happens….
    (Reminds me of the Hunt for Red October)

  • Prodozul

    Incredible photo

  • chaos0xomega

    So, err… which plane is carrying the copy of playboy to taunt the Rooskies with?

  • Lance

    Cool picture. Most of the time that’s how western pilots got to see Soviet aircraft. The MiG-31 Foxhound is a prime example. The F-15s speed makes it the best interceptor in the world today.

  • Black Owl

    This picture just makes me miss the Cold War even more!

    • chaos0xomega

      Ahh the good old days when the defense budget was an easily defensible sacred cow, if only I had been born a few decades earlier /sniffle

  • bubblehead

    Wow back then I was on a submarine under the ocean protecting our country from the cold war . I got out right after the cold war ended and am a disabled vet from a torpedo
    reload or I would have still been in .

  • submarinertooserve

    I too miss the “old days”. It was an exciting time to go down and beat the Soviets at our game.

  • Infidel4LIFE

    Turns out they were more afraid of us than we were of them. Thing is, you don;t invade Mother Russia. Napoleon and Hitler found out the hard way.

  • anthony

    Well shot aviation history..

  • Dick Willett

    Has anyone got a pix of the Mig 17 or 19 that did a touch and go at King Salmon AFS, Alaska in late 1962 or early 63? I think it might have made the Seattle newspaper. I saw a copy of the news article and my roommate (I was at KSAFS from 4-63 to 4-65) was on guard duty in front of the alert hanger and saw it.

  • josh

    who has seen the top gun dog fight scene where they claim to be fightin migs byt they seem to be lookin more like f5s! can anyone comment n this i am very curious abou tit wonderin if i am right!!