Une cible M6 accrochée sous le ventre d'un MiG-23UB tchécoslovaque paré pour une mission au-dessus de la Baltique.
D'un diamètre de 28 cm, elle mesurait un peu plus d'un mètre de long et pesait 98 kg. © S.Rogl.
Incidentally, another target model made the headlines on 24 August 1990 when apparently stationary luminous spheres were spotted in the skies in the Greifswald area above the sea and filmed by many people. They even saw a smaller sphere flying towards the main formation and disappear just before reaching it... Well, it was nothing other than a missile flying to its target and running out of fuel just before reaching it, apparently without exploding! If ufologists want to continue to believe in paranormal phenomena, during an interview given to a German television network some years later, General Tarasenko himself explained what happened that night (the targets and the missile can be seen here: link 1 - link 2). Analyses of these observations (see link 3) revealed that the area where those 'UFOs' appeared was situated at the southern edge of the air-to-air range - used by the Czechoslovak Air Force on that day (who probably had, on that occasion, the honor to perform the very last firing session on that range).
However, careful observation of videos filmed at that time seem to show that flare bombs (SAB, Svetyashchaya Aviatsionnaya Bomba - flash bomb) were used instead of traditional targets. SAB were designed to illuminate the ground during night bombing. The bombs used as targets could have been SAB-100MN/MP models (the latter used the same outer case as the M6 target), SAB-250-200, SAB-250T or SAB-500-350.
A l'avant-plan, une torche et son parachute provenant d'une bombe SAB-250-200, celle d'une SAB-100MN en arrière-plan et enfin celle d'une bombe
SAB-250T au centre. © "Secrets of the Soviet Airbase" museum, Berekfürdo, Hungary - www.soviet-airforce.com
L'inexpliquable expliqué ! Les sept torches d'une bombe éclairante SAB le 24 août 1990 au-dessus du polygone de tir air-air de la 16.VA.
Another target was the inert R-3P (Prakticheskaya - practice) missile derived from the Vympel' K-13 (AA-2 "Atoll"). Usually, the fighters carried both active and target missiles. The leader fired an R-3P and its wingman shot it down. Thereafter, it was the turn of the wingman to fire a target missile while lead fired an active missile. It was possible to launch live missile up to 25 seconds after an R-3P departed its launch rail.
During the summer of 1986, Pilot First Class Oleg Kozlov ferried an Il-28 "Beagle" from the 65.OBAE to Altes Lager to serve as an instructional airframe (2). In November, the unit's remaining "Beagle" aircraft were withdrawn from use and replaced by 12 MiG-23M and UB. The choice of the latter aircraft type was probably an improvised solution before introduction of a more specialized airframe for the task. The origin of these aircraft remains questionable. At most, we can state that a derelict MiG-23M originating from the 35.APIB of Zerbst was present in the Damgarten dump in 1992. Also, in November 1986, the 74.OBAE was disbanded. The 65.OBAE composition changed with the Floggers arrival. It was then composed of two aviation flights (aviazveno) and a third separate flight (the 125.OBAZ) composed of former 74.OBAE elements. The MiG-23M did not tow targets. Instead, they launched M6 targets (that was the case to train the sailors at Swinoujscie), glide bombs (probably PM-6 targets) and S-5P chaff rockets - the chaff created a radar echo that could be used as a target - fired from classic UB-32 rocket pods. Also, the MiG-23 were only used as "reflecting" targets (3) at Wustrow.
The MiG-23M of the 65.OBAE did not last long. They were withdrawn in November 1989 when the aircraft were flown to and stored at Step'
Airbase (Olovyannaya) in the Transbaykal.
On November 25, 1989 two Su-25 of the 357.OShAP from Brandis joined the 65.OBAE so that the pilots could train on this new airframe.
In addition, a new Su-25UB (n°50) two-seat trainer was delivered from Ulan-Ude to Damgarten in April 1990. In early May 1990,
the 65.OBAE received ten new Su-25BM ground-attack and target-towing aircraft with yellow numbers from Tbilisi in Georgia (n° 01-06 / 08-11).
The Su-25UB remained on strength with the unit, while the two Su-25 from Brandis were sent to Ovruch in Ukraine for storage.
Target towing should have been resumed with the Su-25BM, but the TL-70 winches that would have been carried underwing were not delivered on time.
The Su-25BM could however carry such targets as the PM-6. It should be noted that L-39C were also observed at Damgarten alongside the Su-25BM. However,
we do not know whether these planes were attached to the 65.OBAE or detached from the 368.OShAP from Demmin. Also, two new Su-25BM then joined
the 368.OShAP by the end of July 1990 at the latest. Contrary to normal practice, they were delivered without bort numbers and were assigned
the numbers 16 and 17.
In October 1990, the 65.OBAE aircraft were redeployed to Demmin and squadron personnel were divided up between the 357.OShAP and the
fourth squadron of the 368.OShAP (4). The 65.OBAE thus was immediately disbanded
thereafter on November 1, 1990. The yellow bort numbers on the planes were then painted red
(and sometimes changed) to bring them in line with those of the 368.OShAP. As a result of the arrival of the former aircraft from the 65.OBAE at
Demmin, several 368.OShAP Su-25 were transferred to Brandis where they likely replaced the aircraft with the least remaining service life.
With special thanks to Oleg Kozlov for his unstinting help
(1) In April 2012, SAB-250T and SAB-250-200 flare bombs carried by Su-27s were used as targets during exercise "Ladoga-2012".
These bombs also caused a stir similar to the Greifswald case (especially in forums dedicated to UFOs where most contributors persist beyond all reason to believe
in their chimera) when inhabitants of St. Petersburg observed and filmed them at night while they were descending far away above Lake Ladoga!
It is therefore clear that the use of flare bombs as targets during air-to-air missile firing exercises was not unusual.