MIG-21 aircraft 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US “secretly acquired” a Soviet MiG-21 aircraft from Israel in 1968 and
tested the fighter jet at the legendary Area 51, a US government facility in the
Nevada desert, The Guardian reported this week.
The US government – which
released the relevant documents on Tuesday – declassified them after George
Washington University’s National Security Archive requested them through the
Freedom of Information Act.
The documents revealed that Area 51, which in
popular culture is a clandestine site for alien spacecrafts and
extraterrestrials, was actually used by the US to test its aerial
For one of the projects, Israel lent a Soviet MiG-21 to the US
during the midst of the Cold War. According to the documents, compiled and
edited by a senior fellow at the National Security Archive, Jeffrey
T. Richelson, Israel obtained the aircraft after the Mossad arranged for
a captain in the Iraqi air force to defect and land it on a base in northern
Israel in August 1966.
Israel then loaned the plane to the US Air Force
from January 1968 to April 1968.
While the MiG was in its temporary
possession, the US redesignated it the YF-110, evaluated its technical
characteristics and assessed its tactical abilities by comparing it to its own
weaponry and army and navy combat planes.
The US even simulated a Soviet
style air-defense-complex and referred to the maneuvers with American names that
included Mary, Susan and Kathy.
According to the documents, the US also
experimented on two Soviet MiG-17’s at Area 51.
The top secret site in
Nevada also played an essential role in the development in the 1970s and ’80s of
the F-117 secret stealth aircrafts, the documents reveal.
The CIA finally
confirmed the existence of Area 51 this past August when it started
Richelson was able to review these documents in
2002, but mentions of Area 51 were redacted at the time. He submitted a request
for the CIA’s history again in 2005 to continue his research on aerial