Back in 1976, a Russian front-line pilot defected to Japan in a MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor, flying virtually at sea level to avoid pursuing fighters and surface-to-air missiles. With about thirty seconds of fuel remaining, he landed at Hakodate Airport, bursting a tyre and skidding off the runway. Before the aircraft was handed back to the Russians, American intelligence agencies reduced it to a pile of components and then rebuilt it. Despite the wealth of intelligence gleaned, they completely failed to realise the purpose for which the Foxbat was created.
Moving to the present, American satellites have detected unusual activity at several Algerian air bases, and at Aïn Oussera one large hangar has been cordoned off and armed guards posted outside. Western intelligence agencies suspect that Algeria might be working-up its forces prior to launching an attack on Libya or Morocco, with potentially destabilising effects in the region. They’re also concerned that they might have obtained new aircraft or weapon systems, perhaps secreted in the guarded hangar at Aïn Oussera. The only way to find out is to get someone to look inside the building, and it will have to be a covert insertion.
This is where Paul Richter is called in, as ‘a deniable asset’, in an exciting non-stop thriller that moves rapidly through Bulgaria, Russia, and ultimately North Korea.