Spy Games: The Cold War and Japan - Part 3
Last in a three-part series
TOKYO — One of the more memorable events of the Soviet Era era in Japan was the defection of Viktor Belenko, a lieutenant and pilot in in the Soviet Defense Forces on September 6, 1976. Belenko flew his Mikoyan-Gurevish MiG-25P “Foxbat” aircraft from Russia to Hakodate Airport in Hokkaido, landing on the runway with only 30 seconds of fuel left, barely missing a Boeing 727 airliner that was taking off. Because of bad weather Japanese ground radar completely missed his initial approach.
Beleneko was disillusioned with subpar living conditions on Chuguyevka Air Base 120 miles from Vladivostok in the Far East, especially after his wife told him she was going to leave him and take their young son with her. So he decided to defect from the Soviet Union to the United States, via Japan. He left Chuguyevka with his squadron on a training mission then departed midway through and headed for Hokkaido. The runway in Hakodate was too short for the MiG-25 and Belenko ran off the tarmac. Upon arrival he requested asylum in the United States.