HOW DID AMERICA SECRETLY TEST RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT?
CASE#4 ‘Project Have Doughnut’
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” The words of ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu would resonate with anyone employed at Area 51 in the late-1960s. It was then that the US military managed to get its hands on one of its foes most prized possessions; a MIG fighter plane. And in an ironic twist considering the current political climate, they owe one of their greatest coups to an Iraqi.
Enter Iraqi Air Force pilot Captain Munir Redfa, whose conscience gets the better of him moments before a bombing mission on a series Iraqi Kurd villages. Instead of peppering innocent citizens with deadly napalm, as ordered, Redfa re-routes his plane to Israel – who then secretly ship it to their US allies for investigation.
It’s the ultimate catch for the US; for almost a decade they’ve been losing the aerial war in Vietnam. For every MIG the US shoot down, they’re sacrificing nine F-4 fighters. They quickly begin testing the plane under the project codename Have Doughnut. “We pretty well tore it down and looked at everything,” says former Area 51 radar specialist Thornton TD Barnes. “The radios, the hydraulics, the engines… everything about this plane, we examined it.”
But the results expose a shocking truth about those Vietnam War aerial defeats. “We realised that it wasn’t necessarily the planes,” adds Barnes. “It was that our people didn’t know how to fight.”
Thus from this moment onwards, Area 51 becomes a secret testing ground for training US pilots how to defeat Soviet Migs in a dogfight. And the base itself grows in size with five more hangers constructed at the south end of the Groom Lake site. The area above the range is permanently made restricted airspace.