Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23
From Scramble - The Aviation Magazine
Ground attack fighter
|First Flight||10 April 1967|
|Length||16.71 m||54 ft 10in|
|Wingspan swept||7.78 m||25 ft 6 in|
|Wingspan spread||13.97 m||45 ft 10 in|
|Height||4.82 m||15 ft 10 in|
|Wing area swept||34.16 m²||367.7 ft²|
|Wing area spread||37.35 m²||402 ft²|
|Empty||10,200 kg||22,485 lb|
|Loaded||14,700 kg||32,405 lb|
|Maximum takeoff weight||17,800 kg||39,250 lb|
|Engines||one Tumansky R-27 turbofan|
|Thrust||kN (each)||lbf (each)|
|Maximum speed||2,500 km/h||1,553 mph|
|Operational range||2,446 km||1,520 miles|
|Service ceiling||18,500 m||60,700 ft|
|Rate of climb||14,400 m/min||47,250 ft/min|
The first Soviet fighter with variable geometry was the MiG-23. Developed in the early sixties of the last century, it first appeared in the open in 1967 at the Moscow Airshow. NATO dubbed the MiG-23 the `Flogger`and the aircraft was used as an interceptor.
Twice the weight of its predecessor, the MiG-21 Fishbed, the MiG-23 weighed in at 11000 kgs. The huge size of the plane made it possible to incorporate the powerful `J-band High Lark´ long range radar, a radar comparable to that used in the early versions of the F-4 Phantom II. Despite its impressive appearance the Flogger was not notably better than its predecessor, the MiG-21. The planes acceleration was excellent, its manoueverability failed to meet demands.
The first type that was mass produced for the Soviet Air Force was the MiG-23M, which became operational in 1972. Relatively quickly the Tumansky R-27 engine was replaced by the R-29B, which increased the power from 10200 kg thrust to 12550 kg. This new version was called the MiG-23MF. For operational training use the MiG23-U was developed, with a double cockpit in tandem configuration.
The MiG-23MS was specifically designed for the export market, with simpler electronics and radar. This radar, also used in later models of the MiG-21, was the `Jay Bird´. With this radar, it was only possible to carry the AA-2 Atoll, which was linked to the radar. For the allies of the Soviet Union in the Warsaw Pact and other allies, several hundred were exported. Reports suggest, by 1980 at least 1000 were delivered.
At the end of the seventies the MiG-23ML appeared. This type was equipped with the more powerful R-29PN engine. Externally it differed slightly with the older version, just the tailplane was sleeker and it featured an under nose sensorpod.
At the request of export customers a hybrid version was developed. It used the intakes, engine and tail of the earlier MiG-23s and a new nose section, later used on the MiG-27 fighterbomber. This version was called the MiG-23BN, an export fighterbomber.
The biggest differences between the MiG-23 and the MiG-27 externally are the smaller spitterplates, a rotating 6 barrel gun under the fuselage, a shorter exhaust and the `platypus´ nose. Because the MiG-27 variant showed much similarity with the MiG-23 both these aircraft were known to NATO as the `Flogger´.
Two Mikoyan designed prototypes were built, the swept wing 23-01 ‘Faithless’ and the swing wing 23-11. The 23-11 first flew on 10 April 1967 and was ordered into production as the MiG-23S. Fifty were built for evaluation.
The MiG-23M was the first model to introduce the specially designed Sapfir-23 pulse doppler radar in a larger nose radome and also featured a more powerful engine and IRST and R-23 missile compatibility.
The export MiG-23MS was similar to the MiG-23M but with downgraded avionics and radar.
The export MiG-23MF was further downgraded and featured the RP-22 radar and smaller nose.
Lighter version, with less fuel and no dorsal fin extension.
Only aerodynamic changes.
The MiG-23P interceptor could be automatically guided to its target by ground controllers.
Two seat conversion trainer.
Built specifically for ground attack. Features a pointy, radar-less nose and a Lyulka AL-21 turbojet.
The improved MiG-23BN was fitted with the Tumansky turbojet.
Further improved MiG-23 attack variants were the MiG-23BK and MiG-23BM, both of which borrowed navigation and attack systems from the MiG-27.
- Algerian Air Force
- Angolan Air Force
- Belarusian Air Force (inherited from the Soviet Air Force)
- Bulgarian Air Force
- Congo (DRC) Air Force (5 received from Libya)
- Cuban Air Force
- Czechoslovak Air Force
- Czech Air Force only after the split up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
- East German Air Force
- Egyptian Air Force
- Ethiopian Air Force
- Hungarian Air Force
- Indian Air Force
- Iraqi Air Force
- Ivory Coast Air Force (2 MLD from Bulgaria in 2003)
- Libyan Air Force
- North Korean Air Force
- Polish Air Force
- Romanian Air Force
- Russian Air Force (inherited from the Soviet Air Force)
- Sudanese Air Force
- Sri Lanka Air Force
- Syrian Air Force
- US Air Force (MiG-23BN as YF-113B and MiG-23MS as YF-113E)
- Ukrainian Air Force (inherited from the Soviet Air Force)
- Yemen Air Force
Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988)
Syria-Israel war over Lebanon in June 1982
Libyan intervention in Chad 1980s
Soviet intervention in Afghanistan 1980s
Angolan civil war 1980s
Libya 1989 - Gulf of Sidra 2 MiG-23MF downed by USN F-14s
Iraq 1991 Gulf war
Ethiopia-Eritrea war (1998-2000, but also in civil war before Eritrean independence in 1991)
Ethiopian intervention in Somalia December 2006
The more advanced MiG-27
MiG-23MF of the, then, Czechoslovak Air Force at Dresden (Germany) for maintenance