Air Force Details Secret Cold War MiG Program

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A once-secret program that enabled thousands of U.S. military pilots to practice dogfighting against Soviet-designed MiG fighter jets was detailed Thursday by the Air Force as part of the first public acknowledgment of the program's existence.

The classified air combat training program ran from 1977 to 1988 at the Tonopah Test Range in remote desert scrubland near Las Vegas and Nellis Air Force Base.

"I guess the mouse is out of the pocket," said Gail Peck, who helped start the program and was its first commander. "After 20-some odd years, you have a little bit of a tingling feeling talking about things that were so closely held for so long."

Officials decided to declassify the program after determining that releasing the information would not harm anyone, and the Air Force announced the move Monday. A news conference was held Thursday at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, which has a MiG fighter on display.

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