The fighter regiment that was stationed at that base was disbanded in 1994

Smirnykh: a ruined air base where a Soviet MiG-23 fighter was abandoned

There are many abandoned military bases in the world, but it is very rare to find one where you can still see a fighter plane.

Two abandoned American F-84 jet fighters in the former Yugoslavia
A desert in which three strategic bombers from the Cold War are abandoned

The Island of Sakhalin, located in the Sea of Okhotsk (in the northwest of the Pacific Ocean), was disputed for several centuries by Russia, China and Japan. In 1855, the Russians and Japanese divided up the island, and 20 years later they signed a treaty by which it remained in the hands of Russia. Following Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan reoccupied the southern part of the island. In 1945, the USSR invaded the Japanese part of Sakhalin at the end of World War II.

During the Japanese rule in the south of the island, the Japanese Army built an airfield, Keton. After the Soviet occupation, this airfield became the Smirnykh air base, housing three units of Tupolev Tu-2 bombers and a fighter regiment, 528, which was successively equipped with different combat planes.

After the fall of the Soviet dictatorship and the reduction of its military force, in 1994 the Smirnykh fighter regiment was disbanded, and its MiG-23MLs were transferred to Khurba, in mainland Russia, to be stored and later scrapped. Despite this move, two MiG-23s remained in Smirnykh, a single-seater and a training two-seater. Today the first of them is still there, housed in Hangar 211 and quite destroyed. The channel NashOstrov released a video a month ago exploring this base and showing ese caza (the video is in Russian, you can activate the automatic subtitles in English in the bottom bar of the player):

You can see below some captures of the video. Here we see the ruins of a side access to one of Smirnykh's hangars.

The interior of one of the old hangars, under a snowfall.

Hangar 211, where the last plane from this abandoned base is located.

The MiG-23 inside its former hideout. This model made its first flight in 1967 and entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1969. After the fall of the USSR, several hundred MiG-23 were stored, while the remainder were transferred to former Soviet republics.

This MiG-23ML is in a sorry state. It is missing the nose and the radar that was inside it. The cockpit and forward landing gear have also disappeared.

The plane still sports the red star design of the Soviet Air Force in its drift. The Russian Air Force has kept this communist symbol, but edging it in white and blue.

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