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BBC Future

Rostislav Belyakov: The man behind the MiGs

  • Cold War warriors
    The planes built by Rostislav Belyakov’s MiG design bureau became potent symbols of the USSR’s military might. (Science Photo Library)
  • Wartime work
    The first design Belyakov worked on was the MiG-3, a single-seat fighter in service when Germany attacked the USSR in 1941. (Sovphoto/Getty Images)
  • Sweeping into power
    The MiG-15 – built just after World War II using techniques from captured German designs – made the MiG bureau a household name after combat in Korea. (USAF)
  • Swing-wing Soviet
    The MiG-23 was MiG’s only swing-wing design to enter service; more than 5,000 were made, and some still serve with countries like North Korea and Angola. (US Navy)
  • Monster MiG
    The enormous MiG-25 could fly three times the speed of sound; it was initially designed to shoot down a supersonic US bomber that never entered service. (US Navy)
  • From Foxbat to Foxhound
    The MiG-25 was replaced by the MiG-31; one of Belyakov’s final designs, it remains in front-line service with the Russian Air Force. (Science Photo Library)
  • Export success
    Built to combat Western jets like the F-16, the MiG-29 became one of MiG’s most successful designs, keeping the company afloat during the Soviet break-up. (AFP/Getty Images)
  • On display
    Belyakov’s MiG-29 has become an air show favourite; its strong, flexible airframe and powerful engines let it perform aerobatics few other fighters can match. (Getty Images)
  • Future fighter?
    MiG’s Article 1.44 was the bureau’s design to rival the like of the USAF F-22; the plane lost out to a Sukhoi design and never got beyond the prototype stage. (BBC)
  • Belyakov's legacy
    Though MiG fighters are no longer built in their thousands, the design bureau is still busy. Its latest model, the MiG-35, is currently in development. (Science Photo Library)
In the Cold War, the word MiG became synonymous with the military might of the Soviet Union. BBC Future looks at the incredible aircraft designs and the man who helped create them.