Sunday, 22 January 2017

MiG-29s in the US

This is another work in progress, so please feel free to point out mistakes or omissions.

I've divided this work into 2 sections.

The first section deals with those MiG-29's that have been privately imported into the USA.

The second section deals with the 21 MiG-29's purchased from Moldova on 23rd June 1997.  Some of these aircraft flew from Groom Lake as recently as 2009 (witnessed by myself), but the current status of many of this batch of aircraft is unknown.

MiG-29 being readied for transfer to the US Government

MiG-29UB being loaded onto a USAF C-17 in Moldova

Before I begin, I can thoroughly recommend this article, regarding the import of two private single seaters in the 1990's.  It sums up the atmosphere of the mid-1990's period when the Soviet Union was breaking down, and money really could buy you anything...if you were brave enough.

In essence, it took 5 years and a whole pile of cash between this rich guy, Don Kirlin, identifying the two MiG-29 Fulcrum A aircraft in Kyrgyzstan, doing the deal, and getting them to Illinois.

1) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960507662 ex Kyrgyzstan bort 32 Blue
Registered N6394K in June 1999 (as MiG-29UB) 

Single Seater.  Owned by Air assets inc, Quincy IL, stored on ramp at Quincy Regional Airport, IL.  

Located in 94, deal complete 1996.  Flown to Tallinn, Estonia, by An-124, seized by authorities.
Finally arrived in Quincy 1999.

This MiG-29 is of particular interest as it is one of the first 70 built, with ventral fins underneath
each tail fin.

2) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960520155 ex Kyrgyzstan bort 09 Red
Registered N6394G in June 1999 (as MiG-29UB)

Single Seater.  Owned by Air assets inc, Quincy IL, stored on ramp at Quincy Regional Airport, IL.

Located in 94, deal complete 1996.  Flown to Tallinn, Estonia, by An-124, seized by authorities.
Finally arrived in Quincy 1999.
Ex Kyrgyzstan Fulcrum A Red 09 at Quincy

3) MiG-29UB Fulcrum B N80003003127 ex Ukraine bort 32 Red, last flew in 1999.

Registered N129XX in Jan 2008.  First flew in US on 10 Dec 2010. Videos etc online.
Possible line number 21-02.  Possible build date 9 Sep 1986.

Two seater.  Op by Air USA, Quincy, IL.  Airworthy.

Repainted into two tone grey and blue Soviet colours, as bort number "37 Red".  Offered for sale at $4.65 million.

New colour scheme on N129XX

Old colours on N129XX

4) MiG-29UB Fulcrum B N80003001024 ex Ukraine ? (details unknown)

Registered N229XX in March 2008

Possible line number 21-01.  Possible build date 5 March 1986.

Two seater.  Op by Air USA, Quincy, IL.  Probably not airworthy, but details are scarce.

5) MiG-29UB Fulcrum B N50903014896 ex Ukraine
Registered N29UB in April 2011.  First flew in USA 23 January 2011.

Two seater.  Op by Flying Heritage Collection, Everett, WA.  Airworthy, located at Paine Field.

Wears bort Red 64.

OK, so Part Two.... "The Moldovans"

There are many articles online about the nature of this deal.  In essence the USA stepped in to
prevent the sale of nuclear-capable MiG-29S "Fulcrum C" aircraft from Moldova (who couldn't
afford to operate them) to Iran (who hasn't been in America's 'good books' since the Iranian
Revolution in 1979).

The deal was struck on June 23rd 1997 and consisted of the sale of 21 aircraft to the US Government,
as follows:

6 x MiG-29 Fulcrum A (early model Air Superiority Fighter, the 9.12 model)
1 x MiG-29UB Fulcrum B (two seat trainer, not radar equipped, the 9.51 model)
14 x MiG-29S Fulcrum C (Nuclear capable Air Superiority Fighter, the 9.13 model)

I've divided this section into two.

Firstly those eight airframes who's whereabouts is known. They are now in Museums or displayed on
USAF bases.

Second, there is a list of all 21 airframes involved in the deal.  Some of these aircraft may still fly from
Groom Lake, some may be used as spares sources to keep the flyers airworthy.  In that case they will
probably be parked or stripped down in the 'Red Hats' hangars at Groom Lake.  Undoubtedly some of
these aircraft would have been lost in crashes in the last 20 years.

Sightings of flying MiG-29s are hard to come by.  However I saw two -29's on two consecutive days in
November 2009.  The first was returning to Groom Lake over Queen City Summit, NV. The second
was seen practising intercepts with an F-16 over the Powerlines Overlook, before the pair flew directly
over me back into Groom Lake Airbase.   There is of course the possibility that I saw the same aircraft
flying on each day.

For more, please check out my blog entry for Nov 2009.

Eight aircraft are known to be on display:

1) MiG-29A 2960512124

ex 27 White, now wears "17 Blue".

Preserved at Goodfellow AFB, Texas, since October 1998

2) MiG-29A 2960516761

ex 25 White, now wears "08 Blue".

Preserved at Wright-Patterson Museum, OH, since July 2000.

3) MiG-29A 2960516766

ex 22 White, now wears "53 Blue".

Preserved at Pima, AZ, since Oct 2008.  Formally at Tyndall, Florida. Possibly line no. 2005.

4) MiG-29S 2960717458

ex 10 White, now wears "15 Black".

Preserved at Fallon, NV, since Oct 02

Poss line number 3128

5) MiG-29S 2960717464

ex 12 White (some places report 06 white), now wears "30 Red".

Located inside Threat Training Facility at Nellis AFB, NV, since November 1999.

Possibly line no. 3217.

6) MiG-29S 2960717473

ex 06 White, then wore "309 Red", now wears "65 Blue".  Has "16"
stencilled on fin tip.

Preserved outside at Nellis since November 2004.

Possibly line no. 3221.

7) MiG-29S 2960721930

ex 41 White, now wears "23 Blue".

Preserved at McMinneville, OR, since August 2007.

Possibly line no. 3929.

8) MiG-29UB 50903012038

ex 61 White, now wears "62 Blue".

Was displayed outside Intelligence Centre at Wright-Patterson AFB.  Now stored on the airfield.

The complete list of MiG-29s involved in the 1997 deal:

1) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960512124      27 White            Now at Goodfellow AFB.

2) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960512140      28 White

3) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960516753      20 White

4) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960516755      21 White

5) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960516761      25 White            Now at Wright-Patterson Museum

6) MiG-29 Fulcrum A 2960516766      22 White            Now at Pima Museum

7) MiG-29UB Fulcrum B 50903012038     61 White     Now at Wright-Patterson AFB

8) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960707750      24 White

9) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960707753      29 White

10) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960710828      09 White

11) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960717456     03 White

12) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960717458      10 White            Now at NAS Fallon

13) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960717459      11 White

14) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960717464      12 White            Now at Nellis AFB

15) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960717469     04 White

16) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960717473      06 White            Now at Nellis AFB

17) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960717940      02 White

18) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960721907      08 White            Appeared at Wright-Patt Airshow in May 2003.
                                                                                            Had '21' stencilled in fin tips.

19) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960721930      41 White            Now at McMinnville Museum

20) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960721940      46 White

21) MiG-29S Fulcrum C  2960721945      48 White

White 08 at Wright Patterson airshow in 2003.

MiG-29S Fulcrum C at McMinneville, OR

MiG-29's being dismantled in Moldova prior to shipment

Other MiG-29's in the USA

May 1992: Two Ukrainian MiG-29's, a single seat -A and a twin seat -UB, toured America and Canada to celebrate 100 years of Ukrainian immigration to America.  They were flown dismantled in an An-124 cargo plane to Edmonton, Canada and rebuilt.  They first flew from Namao Air Base, Edmonton on May 16th 1992 and went on to perform 19 shows in North America before flying home to the Ukraine from Bangor, ME, in November.

A Ukrainian Fulcrum-A formates with USAF F-16s in 1992

A Ukrainian MiG-29UB on the deck at Trenton, Canada in '92

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