Successful Interception of SR-71 Blackbird?

I’m currently reading through ‘Cockpits of the Cold War’ by Donald Nijboer. At one point the author asserts the following, "In June 1986, the Soviets were finally able to mount a successful SR-71 intercept using their new MiG-31 Foxhounds. In a coordinated intercept over the Barents Sea, six Mig-31s subjected a lone SR-71 to an all-angle air-to-air missile intercept. Fortunately for the American crew, they were over international waters, but the Soviets had proved their points.

I suppose it depends a lot on how you define a successful intercept but I’ve heard it asserted far more often that the Blackbird was never successfully intercepted in its operational career.

I’d be interested in knowing the truth of the matter, a google search throws up a lot of conflicting information and conspiracy-theory websites.


If was certainly never shot down, but it appears that the Soviets regularly responded to SR-71 flights with Mig-31s in a manner that put them at a real risk of being shot down if they strayed into Soviet airspace. Not Maverick and Goose “we were inverted” snap-a-Polaroid style manuevers, but I’d consider a Mig-31 getting within missile range and saying “gotcha,” forcing the SR-71 to respect Soviet borders to be an intercept. The “never successfully intercepted” claim makes it sound like the SR-71 could fly over the Soviets with impunity. It couldn’t.

Ah ha! Thanks, I actually have that book but its been a long time since I read it, that part must have slipped my memory.

One part that I do recall is one of the pilots describing that because they flew so high there was no real sensation of speed except for one mission where they flew over a tropical-thunderstorm, the tops of the clouds were only a couple of thousand feet below the aircraft and he said it was the only time he realised how incredibly fast they were actually moving.

There is a stretch of road near here which is almost exactly one mile long, the fact that the Blackbird could cover that distance in under two seconds makes for an interesting visualisation when driving along it.

Its a fascinating plane, if they rolled it out as a new spyplane tomorrow it would still look futuristic. :slight_smile:

According to wiki, the Swedes managed interception several times.

Without looking it up I remember seeing on the news that the DPRK (i.e. North Korea) shot a missile at it sometime in the 80s. Don’t think it even came close to hitting it. A major function of the SR-71 was ‘side-scanning’ radar, meaning it only had to hug the border of hostile airspace to spy on it. But the thing was so fast I’m sure there were ‘incidents’ where it strayed into and out of areas before anything could catch it.