Pilot Defectors
in the Cold War

A Research Project  ©  Dick van der Aart

MiG defectors - From Fagot to Fulcrum

Almost every MiG type aircraft, from the mass-produced MiG-15 Fagot to the advanced MiG-29 Fulcrum, was used for escape flights by defectors, a fact that was most appreciated by the various foreign military intelligence services. Many MiGs were examined in secret and some were test flown by Western pilots, performing simulated attacks on aircraft of the airforces involved. Countries like Taiwan, Israel, Pakistan, South Korea and the United States all operated with defecting aircraft to analyse their true combat capabilities and weaknesses. Some aircraft were returned after a detailed examination, others ended up in musea.

The following list, covering the period 1953 tot 1998, is the most extensive available at the moment, but by no means complete. Although compiled from many official and unofficial sources, there are still many mysteries and uncertainties. Corrections and additions are therefore much appreciated.

DATE TYPE CODE NATION LANDING REMARKS
5 march 1953 MiG-15 346 Poland Denmark First MiG-15 to West (Bornholm)
21 May 1953
MiG-15bis 415 Poland Denmark Second landing at Bornholm
21 September 1953
MiG-15bis 2057 North Korea South Korea 100.000 dollar reward
13 september 1953 MiG-15 nk Poland Denmark Shot down over Baltic?
21 january 1956 MiG-15bis nk Hungary Austria Crashed
25 september 1956 MiG-15bis 1327 Poland Denmark Third MiG to Bornholm
7 november 1957 MiG-15bis 1919 Poland Sweden Crash landed
14 may 1957 MiG-15bis nk Czechoslowakya Austria Landing, defection?
12 january 1960 MiG-15 651 China Taiwan Fatal crash on beach
3 august 1960 MiG-15bis 241 North Korea South Korea MiG in museum
20 january 1962 MiG-17R 22 Bulgaria Italy Pilot on recce mission?
3 februari 1962 MiG-15bis 1765 China Taiwan Testflown, in museum
5 august 1966 MiG-21 nk East Germany West Germany Failed CIA operation
16 august 1966 MiG-21F 534 Iraq Israel Mossad operation
15 may 1967 MiG-17F 25 Soviet Union West Germany Crash
12 august 1968 MiG-17F nk Syria Israel Navigation mistake
25 november 1968 MiG-21 nk Czech West Germany Fatal crashlanding - defection ?
5 october 1969 MiG-17 232 Cuba US MiG back to Cuba
7 april 1970 MiG-15 907 Hungary Italy MiG returned
3 december 1970 MiG-15 239 North Korea South Korea landing
18 august 1971 MiG ? nk Iraq Iran  
6 september 1976 MiG-25 Foxbat 31 SU Japan Returned after examination
7 july 1977 MiG-19 / J-6Z 3171 China Taiwan Gold reward
1 juni 1978 MiG-21PF nk Laos Thailand No details , date?
7 augustus 1978 MiG-17 nk Afghanistan Pakistan Details
15 april 1979 MiG-19 / J-6 nk China Vietnam Crashed
21 july 1980 MiG-23 nk Libya Italy Mystery crash
8 july 1980 MiG-23 nk Libya Italy 27 june?
11 february 1981 MiG-23 nk Libya Greece Crete, returned
8 july 1981 MiG-17F 21 Mozambique South Afrika first black pilot SAAF
9 july 1981 two MiG-21 nk Hungary Austria Incident?
16 october 1982 MiG-19 / J-6Z 3220 China South Korea Pilot to Taiwan, plane kept
18 october 1982 MiG-17 nk Afghanistan Pakistan Crashlanded
25 february 1983 MiG-19 / J-6 207 North Korea South Korea  
27 may 1983 MiG-19 / J-6 .. China Taiwan Crashed when chased
7 august 1983 MiG-21 / J-7 045 China South Korea Pilot to Taiwan, MiG kept
14 november 1983 MiG-17 / J-6 83065 China Taiwan  
25 march 1984 MiG-17 nk Afghanistan Pakistan Crash landing
20 february 1985 MiG-19 / J-6 nk China South Korea Uncertain !
21 februari 1986 MiG-19 / J-6 3283 China South Korea Pilot to Taiwan
20 october 1986 MiG-19 / J-6 nk China South Korea  
23 october 1986 MiG-21 65656 Afghanistan Pakistan Date 12 october ?
24 october 1986 MiG-19 / J-6 ?053 China South Korea  
19 november 1987 MiG-19 / J-6 40208 China Taiwan  
1 march 1988 MiG-23 nk Libya Egypt Date uncertain
8 august 1988 MiG-21U nk Afghanistan Pakistan  
1 september 1988 MiG-17 (5?) nk Afghanistan Pakistan Rumor 5 MiG's
8 december 1988 MiG-21bis nk Afghanistan Pakistan  
?? july 1988 MiG-29 (2) nk Syria Turkey Not confirmed, source ACIG
?? april 1989 MiG-23MLD nk Syria Turkey Not confirmed, source ACIG
20 may 1989 MiG-29 nk Soviet Union Turkey Returned after 1 day
?? june 1989 MiG-21MF nk Ethiopia Sudan  
14 august 1989 MiG-17F nk Hungary Italy Crash on landing
6 september 1989 MiG-19 / J-6 40307 China Taiwan Last defection to Taiwan
29 september 1989 MiG-21 nk Ethiopia Sudan  
11 october 1989 MiG-23MLD 2786 Syria Israel Flight tested, in museum
29 october 1989 MiG-21bis 957 Afghanistan Pakistan Date 2 september ?
14 april 1990 MiG-21MF nk Etiopia North Yemen Two ?
9 august 1990 MiG-23 (two) nk Iraq Saudi Arabia  
25 august 1990 MiG-19 / J-6 nk China Sovjet Union Returned to China
20 march 1991 MiG-23BN 22 Cuba USA  
26 may 1991 MiG-23BN nk Ethiopia Djibouti Three ? Returned 8 aug
25 oktober 1991 MiG-21RF 26112 Yugoslavia Austria Kept, in museum
9 november 1991 MiG-21bis 17156 Yugoslavia Hungary ?  
5 februari 1991 MiG-21bis 101 Yugoslavia Kroatia  
15 may 1992 MiG-21bis (two) nk Yugoslavia Kroatia  
8 july 1992 MiG-21MLD nk Libya Greece Crashed on landing
18 september 1993 MiG-21 672 Cuba USA Returned to Cuba
23 september 1993 MiG-23 .. Cuba USA Returned to Cuba
23 may 1996 MiG-19 / J-6 529 North Korea South Korea  
22 october 1996 MiG-19 / J-6 nk Sudan Saudi Arabia MiG returned
4 march 1998 MiG-15UTI 3-26 Albania Italy  
nk = not known
 
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