I don't know how many of you've read this interview of Air Marshal Sumit Mukerji who's an ex-Mig-25 pilot and seems to have quite a lot of flying on it. https://hushkit.net/2018/12/12/loneliness-at-mach-3-interview-with-a-mig-25-foxbat-pilot/
In fact, do read other interviews of pilots from various nations about the fighters they've flown and flown against. And their impression.
There is on my an ex-IAF Mig-27 pilot as well:https://hushkit.net/2018/08/15/flying-and-fighting-in-the-mig-27-interview-with-a-mig-pilot/
The reason I'm linking these interviews is because it gives you an perspective which 99.9% of us cannot get. Simply because we don't have access to someone from IAF who's flown these fighters. Also, on discussion forums, we tend to be quite black & white about fighters and their capabilities. Something which I put down to lack of 360 degree information about the system. And because we don't know how these planes have actually behaved in operational scenarios.
For example, almost all of us have impression about Mig-25 from western sources. And these sources tend to be biased or look at a system from their perspective. Not from the nation who made them or the pilots who flew them.
The interview with Mig-25 pilots is a case in point - IMO, this is about the only source which talks about how the aircraft flew and behaved. And while it highlights operational challenges, it speaks well about the aircraft. Now, this is not the impression you get after reading western (mainly US) sources.
For example, no one will say this about Mig-25 apart from those who've actually flown the bird for decades:
“A 20-ton aircraft that carries 20 tons of fuel, flies in the stratosphere, cruises at Mach 2.5 in minimum afterburner and exceeds Mach 3.0 with ease when required, what can one say ? It was an awesome aeroplane. The fact that the ventral fuel tank was one MiG-23 (equivalent in fuel) under the belly, speaks for itself.”
Looking at the two-seat Mig-25 trainer, this would've never come to our mind, at-least, not mine. Do look-up the Mig-25 trainer image to understand what the pilot is saying:
The two-seater (or Trainer version) was unique. It is the only aircraft I know (other than the Tiger Moth, I guess) where the trainee sits in the rear seat. The design, to my mind, was an aeronautical engineering masterpiece. To put it rather simplistically, the camera block was removed from a single-seater and a cockpit created in that space. The canopy, although the same as the other cockpit, appeared ‘flushed’ with the nose of the fuselage, as viewed from the rear cockpit. Thus the trainee felt he was sitting in a single-seater when in the trainer. The transition to going ‘solo’ was a piece of cake
And this bit of Soviet design excellence:
Her systems and auto-pilot were coupled to provide an optimised “Little m=1” (remember the formula for maximum range ?). So, as the fuel depleted she would keep climbing (cruise climb) and a mission commenced at (say) 19.5 kms altitude would terminate around 22 kms with no change of throttle position. The climb was so gradual over the period of time and distance that it did not affect the photography.”
And finally, on intercepting a Mig-25:
“Certainly we were detectable by radar, provided you were expecting us. The Foxbat operated covertly, seen just as a blip on the radar amongst other flying aircraft, but one blip would suddenly disappear. In normal ground radar settings the Foxbat generally operates at the highest fringes of the radar lobe, with the ingress and egress (through the radar lobe) often allowing one or two blips for the radar controller to perceive. Low transition times (because of the high speed) did not provide adequate reaction time to scramble fighters; and other than a pure head-on interception with look-up / shoot-up capability (from, say, 40,000 ft), the Foxbat could survive any fighter interception.”
Do read the interviews for more details.