Viktor Belenko
Viktor Ivanovich Belenko (Виктор Иванович Беленко) (born February 15, 1947) is Soviet defector and aerospace
Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 and lecturer
Lecturer is an academic rank. In the United Kingdom, lecturer is a position at a university or similar institution, often held by academics in their early career stages, who lead research groups and supervise research students, as well as teach...

. Belenko was sentenced to death in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for state treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. He was born in Nalchik
Nalchik is the capital city of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, Russia, situated at an altitude of in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains; about northwest of Beslan in the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania. It covers an area of...

, Russian SFSR in a Ukrainian
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 family. Lieutenant Belenko was a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment, 11th Air Army
11th Air Army
The 11th Air Army is a unit of the Russian Air Force, which was located in the Russian Far East and Pacific Coast area, and its zone of responsibility covered the Far East Military District....

, Soviet Air Defence Forces based in Chuguyevka
Chuguyevka is a military air base in Primorski Krai, Russia. The base's primary objective was to scramble aircraft against SR-71 flights over Vladivostok...

, Primorsky Krai
Primorsky Krai
Primorsky Krai , informally known as Primorye , is a federal subject of Russia . Primorsky means "maritime" in Russian, hence the region is sometimes referred to as Maritime Province or Maritime Territory. Its administrative center is in the city of Vladivostok...

. His name became known worldwide on September 6, 1976, when he successfully defected
In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state or political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. More broadly, it involves abandoning a person, cause or doctrine to whom or to which one is bound by some tie, as of allegiance or duty.This term is also applied,...

 to the West, flying his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that was among the fastest military aircraft to enter service. Designed by the Soviet Union's Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau the first prototype flew in 1964 with entry into service in 1970...

 "Foxbat" jet fighter to Hakodate, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. This was the first time that Western experts were able to get a close look at the aircraft, and it revealed many secrets and surprises. His defection caused a lot of damage to the Soviet Union Air Force. Belenko was granted asylum by U.S. President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, and a trust fund was set up for him, granting him a very comfortable living in later years. The U.S. Government interrogated and debriefed him for five months after his defection, and employed him as a consultant for several years thereafter.

The MiG was disassembled, examined, and returned to the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in thirty crates. Belenko had brought with him the pilot's manual for the MiG-25 "Foxbat", expecting to assist American pilots in evaluating and testing the aircraft. However, the Japanese government only allowed the U.S. to examine the plane and do ground tests of the radar and engines.

Belenko was not the only pilot to have defected from the USSR in this way, nor was he the first such to defect from a Soviet-bloc country. In March and May 1953, two Polish Air Force
Polish Air Force
The Polish Air Force is the military Air Force wing of the Polish Armed Forces. Until July 2004 it was officially known as Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej...

 pilots flew MiG-15s to Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. Later in 1953, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

n pilot No Kum Sok
No Kum-Sok
No Kum-Sok is a former lieutenant of the North Korean Air Force during the Korean War who defected to South Korea...

 flew his MiG-15 to an American air base in South Korea; this MiG is on permanent display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

. In 1985 and 1987, USSR-owned helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s in the Afghanistan theatre of operations
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 defected to Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Captain Alexander Zuyev
Alexander Zuyev
Alexander Zuyev was a captain of the former-Soviet Air Force who piloted his Mikoyan MiG-29 to Trabzon, Turkey on May 20, 1989....

 flew his MiG-29 to Trabzon
Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Iran in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast...

, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 on May 20, 1989.

In 1980, the U.S. Congress enacted S. 2961, authorizing citizenship for Belenko. It was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 on October 14, 1980, as Private Law
Private bill
A private bill is a proposal for a law that would apply to a particular individual or group of individuals, or corporate entity. If enacted, it becomes a private Act . This is unlike public bills which apply to everyone within their jurisdiction...


As a result of Belenko's defection, fuel was limited for fighters on Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...

 bases, which required Maj. Gennady Osipovich, the pilot of the Su-15 interceptor that downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007, to return to base almost immediately after the attack.

While residing in the United States, Belenko married a music teacher from North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

 and had two children. However, he later divorced. He also has a son from his first marriage. Belenko has never divorced his Russian wife. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, he visited Moscow in 1995 by the way of business.

See also

  • Munir Redfa
    Munir Redfa
    Munir Redfa was an Iraqi fighter pilot, of ethnic Assyrian origin, who defected to Israel in 1966 by flying a MiG-21 of the Iraqi Air Force. In what is considered as one of the Mossad's most successful operations, Redfa's entire extended family was smuggled safely out of Iraq to Israel...

  • List of Cold War pilot defections
  • List of Eastern Bloc defectors

Further reading

  • MiG Pilot: the Final Escape of Lt. Belenko, by John Barron
    John Barron (journalist)
    John Daniel Barron was a conservative American journalist and investigative writer. He is best remembered as the author of several books dealing with specifics of Soviet espionage.-Early years:...

    , 1980, ISBN 0-380-53868-7

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.