Defunct Jets Stand Idle at Russia’s Zhukovsky Airfield

neglected-mig-29-fulcrum-engines-removed (Image: Theo van Vliet; airplane graveyards: defunct Fulcrum at Zhukovsky Airfield)

During the Cold War it was known as the Soviet Union’s answer to America’s Edwards AFB, the vast and secretive aviation test facility out in the wilds of California’s Mojave Desert. But by the 1990s, financial problems following the fall of the Berlin Wall had led Zhukovsky Airfield to offer tourist flights in Russia’s most high performance warplanes.

Such opportunities are no longer available at the airfield in Moscow Oblast, which boasts one of the longest runways in Europe and is home to one of Russia’s most important test and evaluation facilities: the M. M. Gromov Flight Research Institute (LII). It’s also where the MAKS airshow is staged, not to mention a boneyard of decommissioned Russian jets.

The forlorn MiG-29 Fulcrum above is one of many grounded warplanes that stands engineless and neglected out on Zhukovsky Airfield. It’s also been home to two Tupolev Tu-144s, the Soviet competitor of the Anglo-French Concorde and the first supersonic commercial transport aircraft to enter service. Tragically, it was this aircraft that crashed at the 1973 Paris Air Show, falling to earth on the Paris suburb of Goussainville-Vieux Pays with loss of 14 lives (six crew and eight on the ground).

buran-class-baikal-OK-2K1-7 (Image: Ilya Varlamov/28-300 (Livejournal); Buran orbiter Baikal while dismantled in Moscow)

Additionally, out on the airfields stands the shell of the unfinished Buran space shuttle orbiter Baikal (below), a small 1/3 scale wooden wind tunnel version of which spent also years rotting away at Zhukovsky until it was finally destroyed a few years ago.

Related: 21 Abandoned Airplane Graveyards (Where Aviation History Goes to Die)


About the author: Tom





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