It’s big. It’s fast. It’s the apex of mid-1960s Soviet interceptor technology. It’s the MiG-25 Foxbat. Capable of sustained Mach 2.5 flight, this heavy interceptor could be pushed to over Mach 3.2 with the risk of permanently melting its turbines. Made in response to the rising speed of American strategic bombers, and before we truly figured out high-speed accurate missile systems, the MiG-25 was built for speed.
Surprisingly, the MiG-25 is somewhat of the Soviet analogue to the SR-71; the Foxbat was the second fastest military aircraft after only the Blackbird.
After a Soviet Pilot defected with a MiG-25 in 1976, Western Intelligence learned a great deal more about this aircraft. 67 days of study later, the United States returned the MiG-25 back to the Soviets, in pieces. Due to its mostly-steel construction, the Foxbat weighed over 32 tons unarmed, and the welding was done by hand. Additionally, it only had a combat radius of 186 miles and used vacuum-tube technology for its avionics. Vacuum-tubes, although older technology, were more rugged and could withstand a nearby EMP generated by a nuclear blast.
The first time a manned aircraft engaged a drone in combat was an Iraqi MiG-25 and MQ-1 Predator in 2002. The Predator was destroyed in the incident.