AMERICA     I     AFRICA     I      ASIA      I    EUROPE      I      MIDDLE EAST     I     OCEANIA     I     GALLERY     I    WALLPAPERS     I    OTHER NEWS    
ALTHOUGH ANY article about the MiG-23

ALTHOUGH ANY article about the MiG-23 must now be viewed from an historical perspective, retrospective analysis of the aircraft's capabilities nevertheless still has some relevance to the present day, even though the Flogger was retired from service in Russia, the CIS republics and Eastern Europe between 1997 and 2002. However, in those Third World countries which are considered to be hostile to the West, and still operating the type, it is considered capable of performing very effectively in the air-to-air role - perhaps with even better mission-capable rates than the early-series MiG-29s operated by those nations. As many as 30 interceptor Floggers were thought to have been maintained in combat-ready status by the Iraqi Air Force prior to Operation IRAOI FREEDOM and 60 more are in service with the Syrian Air Force (including more than 40 highly-modified MiG-23MLD Flogger-K). The Cuban Air Force has just under three dozen MiG-23MF F/ogger-6/MiG-23MLA Flogger-G on strength, while more than 40 Flogger-Gs continue to soldier on with the North Korean Air Force. Some of the countries on the 'rogue' list (i.e. North Korea, Syria) have skilled and determined Flogger pilots. To underestimate them and their aircraft would be foolish and, in the case of war, potentially dangerous.

Further Flogger Upgrades

In June 1982, the Syrian Air Force's rather orthodox Soviet-style air superiority/air defence doctrine, training and tactics proved ineffective against the Israeli Defence Force/Air Force (IDF/AF). Syrian losses between June 6 and June 11 - of fighters, fighter-bombers and helicopters - numbered around 85 (the actual figure was somewhere between 82 and 92, according to some sources), while Syria claimed to have shot down some 27 IDF/AF fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, which is obviously untrue. On the other hand, Israeli denials that it lost any aircraft in air combat during the 1982 Lebanon war may be considered, to some extent, dubious. According to an authoritative article, Early MiG-23s in Operational Service, by Tom Cooper, who has researched the local conflicts of the 1960s-1980s (see Air Enthusiast, Vol 100, July-August 2002, p56-67), the Syrian fighter Floggers played only a secondary role in the conflict. Confirmed Syrian losses during the clashes over the Bekaa Valley between June 9 and 11 were four MiG-23MS Flogger-Es (the original Flogger interceptor variant for export to Middle East customers) and six MiG-23MF Flogger-Bs, their pilots claiming at least five enemy aircraft shot down. Most, if not all, of these kills cannot be confirmed by independent sources and thus must be regarded as less than reliable reports.

M1G-23MLD Pros and Cons

The Soviet Air Force's most significant post-Bekaa Valley undertaking was the accelerated upgrade to MiG-23MLD Flogger-K standard of the then huge VVS-FA MiG-23ML/MLA Flogger-G fleet (this variant was also known as Izdyelie 2318 in the internal designation system of the MiG Design Bureau). In the early 1980s, the MiG-23 formed the backbone of VVS (Voenno-Vozdushniye Sili - the Soviet Air Force) Frontal Aviation (FA) air defence/air superiority assets. No fewer than 1,100 MiG-23M/ML/MLAs were then in service with the Soviet front-line combat units and more than 600 of them were used to equip at least 15 fighter regiments based in Central Europe. These regiments were considered to be the spearhead of Soviet air superiority assets in the Cold War era's most sensitive theatre of operations. The Flogger-K upgrade package is known to have been completed prior to the Lebanon war and a total of 560 VVS MiG-23ML/MLAs were upgraded to the improved standard. Additionally, a total of 66 modified interceptors (in which only the avionics were upgraded) were said by Russian sources to have been newly-built between mid/late 1982 and December 1984.

Known as the MiG-23MLD (Export) (Izdelie 23-19 or the alternative designation Izdelie 23-22), these were exported only to Syria and Bulgaria totalling 50 and 16 examples respectively. Interestingly, the NATO reporting name Flogger-G was retained as these aircraft were hardly distinguishable from the basic MiG-23ML/MLA. Unlike its export counterparts, the VVS-FA MiG-23MLD had a much-improved manoeuvring performance, thanks to a host of airframe and flight control system upgrades. Westerners might find it interesting to read a 32page Soviet Air Force supplementary air combat manual called Aide-Memoire for the MiG-23 Pilot on Air Combat vs F-15A, F-I6A, F-4E and Kfir C.2,published not long after the Bekaa Valley clashes. At that time both Soviet pilots and those from its client states were still trained mainly in the orthodox - some might say 'inflexible' - air intercept tactics originating from the 1960s, which were mastered to perfection during the MiG-21 era, from the early 1960s to the 1970s. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Soviet Union and its client air arms flew the MiG-23M/ML/MLD in the same way as the MiG-21 as a high-speed point interceptor closely guided and supported by the GCI. It took the Russians 12 years to exploit the Flogger-G/K as a true air superiority fighter. The Aide-Memoire for the MiG-23 Pilot on Air Combat vs F-15A, F-I6A, F-4E and Kfir C.2 refers to the MiG-23MLD(Export) version, powered by the R35-300 turbojet, rated at 28,700lb (127kN) in full afterburner, without the aerodynamics and flight control system improvements of the VVS-FA MIG-23MLDS. According to the manual, the aircraft's main parameters, defining its manoeuvring performance, turn out to be slightly better than the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II and definitely better than the IAI KfirC.2. However, the MiG-23MLD's air combat performance, as quoted in the manual, is cited as definitely inferior to the McDonnell Douglas F-15A and General Dynamics F-16A. There are only a few areas within the MiG-23MLD's envelope where it could boast performance equal to, or slightly better than, the third-generation US fighters.

The manual's authors claim that in comparison with the F-4E (though whether they mean the slatted or non-slatted sub-version of the Phantom is not clear), the MiG-23MLD has superior sustained turn performance throughout the entire envelope, excluding the range between 377 and 540kts (700 and 1,000km/h) below 21,000ft (6,400m). It also has the edge over the Phantom II in zoom climb performance at all altitudes and speeds, excluding the true airspeed range between 485 and 647kts (900 and 1,200km/h) above 18,000ft (6,000m). Compared with the F-15A, the MiG-23MLD's only notable advantage is in zoom climb performance at speeds above 620kts (1,150km/h). However, the manual asserts that compared with the F-16A, the Soviet swing-wing fighter produces a somewhat better sustained turn performance above 15,000ft (5,000m), at speeds close to the maximum, as well as better zoom climb performance at true airspeeds exceeding 590kts (1,100km/h). However, as comparative tests have shown, using the Syrian MiG-23MLD(Export) which defected to Israel in October 1989, the swing-wing fighter demonstrated, somewhat surprisingly, that it had better acceleration than the escorting F-16s. This would seem to indicate that in 'real world' conditions the MiG-23MLD would have a slight edge over the early F-16s in acceleration and energy manoeuvrability at true airspeeds above 485kts (900km/h). The IAI Kfir C.2, as assessed in the manual, is said to be inferior to the MiG-23MLD in sustained turn performance at airspeeds above 540kts (1,000km/h), and in zoom climb performance at true airspeeds below 540kts (1,000km/h). However, at altitudes below 12,000ft (4,000m) the MiG-23MLD has the edge in energy manoeuvrability throughout the entire speed range.

Sensor and Self-Protection Considerations

According to the manual, the MiG-23MLD's N008E Sapfir-23MLAE-2 pulse radar has a performance superior to the Phantom's APQ-120, an approximately equal performance to the F-16A's AN/APG-66, and a distinctly inferior performance to the F-15A's AN/APG-63. The authors claim that airborne radar maximum detection range alone cannot grant any decisive tactical advantage in the non-sterile environment of 'real world' air combat. It is a well-known fact that fighter radar target detection and discrimination performance are, in general terms, somewhat limited by the relatively low resolution offered by a radar beam with an average width of between 2.5 and 3.5 degrees in azimuth and elevation. In addition, the generally low reliability of the electronic identification (EID) facilities of the early/mid 1980s is another factor which would prevent enemy fighters from making full use of their superior Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capability. However, the manual notes that the F-16A and F15A radars have a wide range of valuable close air combat modes with automatic target acquisition at close ranges (up to 6-10nm [1018km]), with missile seeker heads slaved to the radar's line-of-sight for increased accuracy and reduced missile lock-on times.

Both the F-15A and F-16A pulse-Doppler (PD) radars are known to have problems with lock-on stability against targets flying below them which appear on the port or starboard beam, when in 'snap-down' mode. This particular shortcoming may be used to good effect by MiG-23 pilots to escape from attacks, since evading the AIM-7F Sparrow SARH (Semi-Active Radar Homing) missile launched by the F-15 could be easily achieved by carrying out high-g manoeuvring abeam the intercepting aircraft.

As a general rule, in operations over mountainous terrain, the performance of the early Sapfir-23 in the look-down/shoot down mode is noticeably degraded. However, the MLD's Sapfir-23MLAE-2 radar has a new and highly useful pulse-Doppler mode (Non-Coherent) with improved ultra-lowlevel target detection (useful for operations over rough terrain) reguiring a minimum target altitude of 160ft (50m). Whichever intercept profile is employed, the MiG-23MLD's lookdown/shoot-down operations require heavy GCI support, and any attacks against fighter-size targets in such conditions should be mounted in tail-on aspect, where the radar's maximum detection range is said to be up to 13nm (25km) and tracking range up to 9nm (16km). The Spafir23MLAE-2, featuring new look-down, passive jamming countermeasures and close air combat modes, demonstrated a moderate reliability in actual operational conditions, with Mean-Time-Between-Failures (MBTF) of the order of 60 hours. The MiG-23MLD's sensor suite also incorporates the under-nose TP-26-Sh Infra-Reel Search-and-Track (IRST) sensor, which can be useful for emission-free tail-on intercepts, particularly as a back-up sensor should the radar be rendered inoperative by heavy jamming or technical failure.

The IRST, however, has a somewhat limited search performance due to its restricted field of scanning - only 60° in azimuth and 15° in elevation. The average low-level detection range against receding fighter-size targets (in tail-on aspect) with afterburner on, is said to be more than 6nm (11km), though at high level detecting range it increases to 13nm (25km).

The MiG-23MLD is equipped with the SPO-15LE Beryoza Radar Warning Receiver (RWR). This is an analogue device, developed in the early to mid1970s, capable of providing 360° coverage in azimuth and 30° in elevation. It has the capability to provide precise angular warning of radiating targets attacking in the forward hemisphere, although accuracy is much lower in the rear sector. The SPO-15LE is claimed to be sensitive enough to warn the pilot of the presence of an adversary's radar and the probable type and mode of its operation. On the other hand, the manual states that the RWRs used on Western fighters usually have 360° coverage in azimuth and 60°-80° in elevation. As a rule, the Western systems are sensitive and 'smart' enough to give timely warning of the MiG-23MLD's radar emissions as their detection range is considerably better than that of the radar - capable, for instance, of detecting an approaching MiG-23MLD with its radar emitting in search mode at distances of over 60nm (110km).

Unlike its main rivals, the MiG-23MLD lacks an integrated or pod-mounted ECM (electronic counter measures) system for self-protection -a great disadvantage in combat against the F-15A, F16A, F-4E and the Kfir C.2, which all boast state-of-the-art ECM gear. The only self-protection gear on the MiG-23MLD is the PKiBP-23 (KDS-23M) chaff/flare dispenser comprising two six-round downward-firing units built-in to the centreline pylon. The VVS-FA Flogger-Ks' self-protection is enhanced by two BVP-50-60 50-round chaff/flare dispensers mounted in long slim housings on top of the centre fuselage. Syrian MiG-23MLDs received additional chaff/flare dispensers, (probably installed in the mid/late 1980s) installed on the rear fuselage.

One of the major advantages of the MiG-23 in combat with the F-15A and F-4E is its compact appearance and relatively small size, along with the fact that the wings are set at a 72° swept angle for high-speed flight. Combined with suitable camouflage, this would make low-level visual detection and tracking very difficult, particularly from above and in head-on encounters.






Kfir C.2

Typical TO


















speed at sea level












speed at altitude


















Thrust-to-weight ratio at typical TO weight






Wing loading






at typical TO weight












Max rate






of climb






Time for






Acceleration from 324 to 594kts (600 to 1,l00km/h) at 3,000ft (1,000m)







The manual's authors claim that the MiG-23MLD's R-24R (AA-7 Apex) BVR SARH missile has a range of performance comparable
to that of the F-15A's AIM-7F Sparrow, while the IR-guided R-24T and R-23T are a valuable addition to the Flogger's weapons suite.

The R24T's high-altitude maximum range in a head-on attack is 7nm (12km) and the figure increases to 12nm (20km) in tail-on engagements. At the same time, the manual claims that the 'Foxtrot' and 'Echo-2' Sparrow variants are known to have inferior ECM resistance compared to the R-24R; it also concludes that the US BVR missiles are not particularly effective in shoot-down engagements.

The MiG-23MLD's R-23R and R-24R missiles, on the contrary, boast modern monopulse seekers with good ECM resistance.

In 'real world' air combat, however, it would not be impossible for their 'lock-on' to be broken by 'smart' jamming from an enemy fighter's new-generation ECM gear. The ranges of the MiG-23MLD, F-15A and F-4E BVR missiles are shown.

The AIM-9L Sidewinder which arms the F-15A and F-16A, with all-aspect lock-on capability, is considered to be the best Within Visual Range (WVR) missile, according to the manual. On the other hand, the MiG-23MLD's R-60 and R-60MK (AA-8 Aphid) purpose-designed dogfight missiles are quoted as capable of head-on lock-on, although only if the target's afterburner is on. The R-60MK has, in general, similar launch limitations and an equally sensitive cooled seeker head as the AIM-9L, although with much shorter range. The R-60 and R-60MK have a decisive edge in the minimum launch range - as little as 750ft (250m) compared to the AIM-9L's minimum of 1,500ft (500m). It has to be said that one notable omission by the VVS and/or the KGB/GRU intelligence authorities was that nothing on the performance and employment details of the Rafael Python 3 all-aspect missile was included in the manual. This was the preferred close air combat weapon of the Israeli F-15AS and credited with 35 kills in June 1982.

It should be remembered that the Launch Acceptable Region (LAR) in the horizontal plane of the close air combat missiles - as given in the manual (see Figure 3) - can only be considered valid for a non-manoeuvring target, flying at 16,000ft (5,000m) at military power, with both the target and the attacking fighter maintaining a speed of 485kts (900km/h). If the target is turning, the LAR shrinks considerably.

The MiG-23MLD's Sapfir-23MLAE-2 radar has a useful close air combat mode (a significant omission on the previous Sapfir-23 variants), with vertical scan in a tall 'window', perpendicular to the aircraft's longitudinal axis,

with a field of 45° in elevation and 6° in azimuth. In this mode, the radar locks semiautomatically onto the first target to enter the 'window' at distances of between 0.17 and 5nm (0.3 and 9km). This is useful in high-g manoeuvring situations as the radar sends commands to slave the R-60, R-60MK and R-13M seeker heads toward the acquired target.

The manual concludes that the built-in guns of all the fighters compared have approximately equal overall efficiency, in terms of useful range and lethality, for use against fighter-size targets. In addition, it states that the lead-computing optical sights of the MiG-23MLD and its opponents have approximately the same accuracy in the gun-aiming mode.





Maximum launch

8nm (14km)

9nm (17km)

8.7nm (16km)

9nm (17km)

range at low level


2.2nm (4km)

2.2nm (4km)

2.2-2.7nm (4-5km)

-forward quarter

6nm (11km)

6nm (11km)



- rear quarter

2.2nm (4km)

2.2nm (4km)



Maximum launch

13.50nm (25km)

19nm (35km)

13.4nm (25km)

22-27nm (40-50km)

range at high level

4.3-5.4nm (8-10km)

11nm (20km)

5.4nm (10km)

8-11nm (15-20km)

- forward quarter

6nm (11km)

6.5nm (12km)



- rear quarter

4.3-5.4nm (8-10km)

10.8nm (20km)



Minimum launch

2.2-3.3nm (4-6km)

1.4nm (2.5km)

2.2nm (4km)

1.4nm (2.5km)

range at low level

0.7nm (1.3km)

0.3nm (0.5km)

0.3nm (0.5km)

0.3nm (0.5km)

- forward quarter

2.2nm (4km)

1.4nm (2.5km)



- rear quarter

0.7nm (1.2km)

0.3nm (0.5km)



Maximum-g of the launch aircraft





Maximum-g of the target





Conclusions and BVR Considerations

The manual concludes that the MiG-23MLD(Export), armed with the R-24/R60MK AAM combination, could be considered reasonably capable of holding its own against all types of enemy fighters. However, it could gain the edge over the F-15A - the most capable of its rivals - only through multiple simultaneous 'slash-and-dash' attacks by several aircraft from different directions and from long range. These would have to be mounted in a decisive manner and would involve a high degree of co-ordination between the groups once the WVR phase was entered into, and there would have to be a timely exit from combat.

Perhaps the most important point in the chapter on BVR combat deals with the importance of the initial attack: "In order to achieve surprise in shooting, MiG-23MLD pilots should exploit all of their [accumulated] experience and aggressiveness in the first attack." This is considered a critical factor, as the element of surprise has proved to be nine-tenths of air combat success, both offensive and defensive. High-speed, highly agile fighters such as the MiG-23 have the option of engaging or disengaging at will, even in the all-aspect BVR and WVR missile environment which typified 1980s and 1990s air combat.

Other critical elements in the success of a fighter sweep or CAP (Combat Air Patrol) operation are the command, control and communications (C3) aspects of the defending fighter force. According to the Soviet doctrine of the 1980s - believed to be still in use today within the MiG-29 and Su-27 communities - GCI controllers had virtually 'absolute authority' to dictate every action in the control of their own fighters. This would include 'fighter sweep' and CAP operations in friendly, disputed or enemy airspace, including selection of heading, altitude, speed, authorisation of attack and missile firing, 'bugouts' (disengagements), etc. Air superiority operations require well-honed GCI (Ground Controlled Interception) to make up for the lack of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) assets and the Soviets perfected this concept in the Central European theatre where a dense network of multiply-redundant ground-based surveillance radars was available. When keeping a lookout for enemy fighters, Flogger pilots were strongly advised to carry out a visual search from take-off to landing another important lesson derived from close analysis of the Bekaa Valley clashes.

Reliable GCI assistance was not available here and Syrian pilots were left to fly 'blind' until engaging the enemy in close combat encounters in the Bekaa Valley, which usually turned out to be something of a 'turkey shoot' for the Israeli fighters.

In order to expand the search zone in a high-threat environment, the Flogger pilot was required to fly a 'weaving' or zig-zag flight profile, with his attention focused on a visual search pattern below the lower limits of his own forces' ground radar coverage, (usually below 1,OOOft [300m] in Central Europe in the 1980s). However, it is well known that MiG-23 pilots had problems with the rearward and downward field of view, as the fighter was designed with a low-drag canopy faired into the fuselage, although the canopy-mounted rear-view mirrors expanded the rearward field of view to some extent. Consequently, during low-level sorties, the Flogger pilot had a great deal of difficulty in keeping a turning 'bogey' in view, or during a visual search below his aircraft and pilot workload was excessively high in this mode of flight. On the other hand, the MiG-23MLD has fast acceleration - thanks to a low-drag airframe and the aerodynamic qualities of the fully-swept wings - and its high speed could make it more difficult for an unseen attacker to satisfy his aiming requirements in the consequently reduced intercept time. This aspect of Flogger operations could be another defensive factor when flying in enemy or disputed airspace.

During BVR combat, the manual emphasises that attacks should not be initiated without offensive advantage and the prospect of firing the 'first shot'. The general rule: 'Who shoots first - kills first and dictates the outcome of the engagement' should be seen as a particularly important dictum for the MiG-23 community. If the MiG-23 was dictating the outcome of the engagement, the aircraft could exploit this advantage to the full, using the 'slash-and-dash' attack technique - the preferable method, and often the only one available against F-16s and F15s.

If an unknown type of 'bandit' is encountered, it should be assumed that it is an F-15 - the most capable and hence the most dangerous, enemy fighter. The manual stresses that the MiG23MLD is prohibited from closing head-on with any such adversary, as these may well be F-15s with better radar performance and longer-range BVR missiles. For this reason, one piece of advice that the manual directs specifically at GCI officers is that during fighter sweep operations it would be strictly against the rules for them to vector MiG-23s in head-on attacks against non-identified bandits. However, if such a situation is unavoidable, then the tactics recommended to MiG-23 pilots and GCI officers are as follows: "If the distance to the 'bandits' exceeds 12nm (20km), the MiGs should immediately make a sharp turn away from the target, descending and pulling high-g and then reverting to a 'side-on' or 'tail-on' missile attack. If the target is detected side on, the MiG-23MLD pilot should use chaff and turn away sharply in order to evade the Sparrow missiles, and then revert to attack."

In order to mask a group attack, the manual recommends that own forces' fighters be flown in carefully spaced formations. These are usually known as 'cells' - virtual square 'boxes' of airspace with 1,200ft-long (400m) sides, within which enemy airborne radars are incapable of discriminating the presence of multiple targets. (However, this is only valid for earlier PD [pulsed Doppler] radars without the raid cluster resolution mode introduced in the mid/late-1980s.) In other words, a group of aircraft would be displayed as a single target on an airborne radar display at a distance of more than 8nm (15km). When tracked by enemy radar, all the aircraft within a 'cell' would then execute simultaneous manoeuvring (the so-called 'burst' manoeuvre) in the horizontal and vertical plane, in order to break lock and initiate a massed attack. In a 'real world' situation there would always be the chance that a BVR missile launched at the maximum permissible range might be out-manoeuvred by the enemy. Consequently, in a head-on attack, the advice is for the first R-24R (R-23R) to be launched at 90% maximum range (below 6nm [11km] at low level and 15nm [28km] at medium/high level). The second should follow at 60-70% maximum range (below 4nm [7.5k] and 10nm [20km] respectively).

If the R-24T infrared homing missile is available for use against enemy fighters without a known BVR capability (i.e. F-16A and Kfir C.2) the Flogger pilot should delay launch to the minimum permissible range, typically below 5nm (9km). Immediately following the R-23R/R-24R launch, the MiG-23 is allowed to change course by up to 30°. The target should still be kept within the radar's gimbal limits, with a subsequent breakaway in a 3g descending turn until missile impact and a sharp reduction in the closing speed relative to the target. Ten to 15 seconds after the break, the manual recommends the pilot to accelerate again in order to gain the energy necessary for the close air combat that may follow. The R-24T is a genuine 'fire-and-forget' weapon, and after launch, the pilot is advised by the manual to carry out immediate missile-evading manoeuvres in the form of a high-g roll as he progresses to a possible WVR engagement.

WVR Combat Considerationst.

Close air combat recommendations, as given in the manual, sound even more interesting than those for BVR encounters. They begin by reminding the pilot to constantly monitor his fuel state during the engagement as low-level flight with afterburner results in a fuel burn of 88 Imp gallons (400 litres) per minute. The MiG-23MI_D is most effective in high-speed air combat, with one attack run - or two at the most - keeping manoeuvring to the minimum. As a rule, the difference in manoeuvring performance and pilot training level between fighters engaged in close air combat becomes increasingly evident in follow-on manoeuvring after the first attack. If the 'bandits' are on the offensive, the manual recommends the MiG-23MLD pilot to initiate defensive manoeuvring as soon as possible, accompanied by flare release (not a good idea if the afterburner is on!). If it is attacked from the rear, the MiG-23 is said to be perfectly capable of evading the attacker simply by out-accelerating it. The manual advises that the R-60 and R-60MK dogfight missiles be used at distances of between 900ft and 4,500ft (300m and 1,500m). The R-13M is useful at between 3,000ft and 6,000ft (1,000m and 2,000m), and the GSh-23L twin-barrel gun is considered lethal when fired below 1,200ft (400m).

The manual assures MiG-23 pilots that the F-15A or F-16A have no valuable advantage in their close air combat weapons. However, these US new-generation fighters are regarded as being much more manoeuvrable, and could consequently achieve a weapons employment solution in their turning engagements much easier and earlier than the MiG-23MLD. In view of this, MiG-23MLD pilots are strongly advised that prolonged turning engagements against F-15As and F-16As, both offensive and defensive, should be avoided by all means. Attack manoeuvring should be broken off at the latest by the end of the first minute of the engagement if no weapon employment solutions have been achieved by then. The manual also advises the pilot to maintain high speed (not below 485kts [900km/h]) during combat as the lower the speed, the greater the 'bandit's' manoeuvring advantage. Manoeuvres which would cause considerable loss of speed - and therefore energy - are permitted only when necessary for weapons employment or missile evasion. MiG-23MLD pilots are advised to avoid any turning combat in the horizontal plane vs the Kfir C.2.

Source: (October 2003)


Number built 5,047 mig23

Current operators

MiG-23 operators (current in bright red; former in dark red)
Algeria: 29 MiG-23BN/MS/UB in service.
Angola: 32 MiG-23M/UB in service.
Cuba: 69 MiG-23MF/ML/UB in service;
Ethiopia: 32 MiG-23BN/UB in service.
India: 20 MiG-23BN/UB in service. The MiG-23MF variant was withdrawn from service on March 20, 2007.
Kazakhstan: 100 MiG-23M/UB in service.
Libya: 130 MiG-23MS/ML/BN/UB in service.
North Korea: 46 MiG-23ML/UB in service.
Syria: 146 MiG-23MS/MF/ML/MLD/BN/UB in service.
Turkmenistan: 230 MiG-23M/UB in service.
Yemen: 25 MiG-23BN/UB in service.
Zimbabwe: 3 MiG-23M/UB in service.[6]

The status of Belarus' MiG-23s is uncertain. While some sources say they are operational (or at least in a low operational capability), others claim they have been retired.

Former operators

Polish Air Force MiG-23
Afghanistan: MiG-23BN/UB may have served with the Afghan Air Force from 1984. It is unclear whether these were merely Soviet aircraft wearing Afghan colors.
Albania: approximately 6+ MiG-23 were said to be in service with the Albanian Air force from the early 1980s purchased from East Germany[7]
Bulgaria: A total of 90 MiG-23s served the BVVS from 1976 to their withdrawal from service in 2002. The exact count is: 33 MiG-23BN, 12 MiG-23MF, 1 MiG-23ML, 8 MiG-23MLA, 21 MiG-23MLD and 15 MiG-23UB.
China: MiG-23 obtained from Egypt were reverse engineered as Q-6, but did not enter service.
Czech Republic: MiGs were retired in 1994 (BN,MF version) and 1998 (ML, UB variant).
Czechoslovakia: MiG-23s were transferred to the Czech Republic .
East Germany
Egypt: Six MiG-23BN/MF/U were sent to China in exchange for military hardware; China used them only for evaluation purposes, which eventually evolved into Q-6. At least 8 were transfered to USA for evaluation.
Israel: One ex-Syrian plane flown by a defecting pilot to Israel.
Poland: 36 MiG-23MF single-seaters and six MiG-23UB trainers were delivered to the Polish Air Force between 1979 and 1982. Last of them were withdrawn in September 1999.
Romania: 46 MiG-23 served and were withdrawn in 2003; the exact count is: 36 MiG-23MF and 10 MiG-23 UB.
United States: Samples obtained from Egypt remained flight worthy until the late 1980s and were mostly stationed in Nellis Air Force Base
Soviet Union



Историята на този самолет започва в 1961 когато ОКБ МИГ пристъпва към работа над изтребител от ново поколение под условното обозначение МИГ-23 със задачата да замени МИГ-21, който в това време тъкмо започвал да постъпва на въоръжение във ВВС. Първоначално се мислело новият самолет да се създаде с използването на ред елементи от конструкцията на предшественика си. Прототип на тази машина станал самолета Е-8/1. Пилотирана от летеца-изпитател Мосолов, прототипа за пръв път се вдигнал във въздуха на 17 април 1962.Самолета бил изпълнен по схемата триплан. Негова особеност станало неголямото предно хоризонтално оперение и под фюзелажния регулируем въздухозаборник. Изтребителя се предполагало да се снабди с РЛС Сапфир-21 (на първата опитна машина не бил монтиран), а въоръжението трябвало да включва управляема ракета Р-13 топлинна ГСН (глава за самонасочване), която в перспектива трябвало да бъде допълнена от ракетата със средна далечина на полета К-23 с радиолокационна полуактивна
система за насочване. В съответствие с модата по това време оръдие не било монтирано, защото се считало че самолета ще се използва главно за свръхзвукови прехвати на височинни цели и противника ще се поразява с първата атака и с първата ракета ( при скорост над звуковата възможността за повторна атака била нищожно малка). Възможността за воденето на маневрен бой на до звукова скорост не се предвиждала защото се считало че свръхзвуковия ракетоносец ще действа по правилото ,,бий и бягай,, и няма да има нужда да стяга виражи във въртележката на маневрения въздушен бой. По време на един от изпитателните полети на 11 септември 1962 станала авария. Молосов успял да катапултира, но получил тежки рани а машината била загубена. По това време вече два месеца и половина летяла втората опитна машина Е-8/2, но след аварията с Молосов решили да прекратят работата по темата Е-8.
Обаче това не означавало отказ от създаването на фронтови самолет по съвършен от МИГ-21.По това време на въоръжение във ВВС на САЩ се появил F-4C Фантом ІІ, първият в света тактически изтребител, способен да води ракетен бой на средни дистанции. Другите характеристики на този многоцелеви самолет също изглеждали твърде внушително. Това подбудило съветските военни и МАП (Министерството на авиационната промишленост) да побързат с адекватен отговор.
Практически веднага след прекратяването на работата по Е-8 ОКБ МИГ пристъпил към създаване на съвършенно нов фронтови изтребител. Първоначално се предвиждало проекта да се реализира на два етапа. Първо се планирало да се създаде самолет с триъгълно крило и перспективния двигател Р-27Ф-300. Максималната скорост трябвало да бъде 2700км/ч (почти колкото на МИГ-25), което предполагало използване на нови конструкционни материали и технологии. Предлагало се машината да се снабди с новата РЛС Сапфир-23 и две-четири всеракурсни ракети със средна далекобойност К-23. Трябва да се отбележи че по рано всички фронтови изтребители на съветските ВВС били въоръжени само с оръдия и ракети за близък бой, а с ракети със средна далекобойност се въоръжавали само прехващачите за ПВО, предназначени за борба с неманеврени цели. Както МИГ-21 , така и новият изтребител трябвало да може да се експлоатира от грундови аеродруми и бетонни писти от втори клас.
Обаче постоянно менящите се възгледи за бойното използване на авиацията довели до по строги изисквания към излетно-кацащите характеристики на тактическите самолети. За това преди всичко способствало появяването на границата между 50те и 60те години , както в САЩ, така и в СССР на тактически ядрени боеприпаси, които можело да се носят от самолети от клас ,,изтребител-бомбардировач,, , а също така използването на тактически ракети от авиацията. Стратегиите и на двете страни считали, че при пълномащабен конфликт големите летища с бетонни полоси ще станат твърде уязвими затова самолетите трябвало да се пребазират на запасни площадки или да загинат на своите летища. Под влияние на такива възгледи ОКБ съвместно с ЦАГИ подготвили предложение по вторият етап на програмата МИГ-23, в хода на който се предвиждало създаването на по съвършен самолет, способен да се експлоатира от полоси с намалена дължина. Да се постигне това било възможно по два пътя; чрез поставяне на подемни двигатели (ПД) или чрез използване на крила с изменяема стреловидност (КИС).
ЦАГИ, опирайки се на голям обем фундаментални изследвания, настойчиво препоръчвало използването на КИС. Изследвания в които взели участие Г.В. Александров, С.М. Белоцерковский и други водещи аеродинамици, показали че заемайки малка стреловидност (10-15 градуса) при крило с голямо удължение и мощна механизация е възможно да се подобрят характеристиките на излитане и кацане и да се намали минимално допустимата палетна скорост. При стреловидност 35-45 градуса се обезпечават добри маневрени характеристики и се осигурява високо аеродинамично качество в около звукови режими на полета. Установяването на крило с 60-70 градуса може да се достигат високи свръхзвукови скорости, а освен това този режим се оказал много благоприятен за полети на малка височина с голяма скорост. Приемането на такова крило позволявало да се създаде многорежимен боен самолет способен да решава задачите на фронтови изтребител, изтребител прихващач и нисковисочинен изтребител - бомбардировач.
Машината била замислена като сравнително евтина, способна ефективно да участва в малки войн, да се използва за ПВО и широко да се доставя в братските страни. Основно достойнство на самолета трябвало да станат високата скорост и скороподемност, голямата далечина и продължителност на полета.
Тъй като воденето на маневрен въздушен бой не било приоритет, максималното експлоатационно претоварване било намалено до 5,0g което позволило панера да се направи по лек.
В този си вид МИГ-23 бил разглеждан като самолет с ограничена маневреност подобно на МИГ-25П. Това отличавало новия самолет от МИГ-21 издържащ претоварване от 7,0 до 8,5g (в различните варианти) и в бъдеще създало големи проблеми.
Възникналите проблеми с приемането на новото крило били решени успешно в ЦАГИ и в последствие се приели не само в МИГ-23, но и в бомбардировача СУ-24.
Обликът на новият МИГ се формирал не без западно влияние. На командването на ВВС и политическото ръководство голямо впечатление направили разчетните характеристики и многорежимността на американския изтребител бомбардировач F-111, снабден с КИС. Обаче съветската машина оставала едноместна и със значително по малка маса.
Същевременно идеята да се поставят ПД също имала свои привърженици и се решило да се построи и опитна машина с тях.
Към техническото проектиране на МИГ-23 във втория етап в ОКБ МИГ пристъпили през 1964. Машината с КИС получила името ,,изделие 23-11,,. Проектирането на изтребителя 23-11 вървяло с бързи темпове. Работата се ускорила още повече когато през 1965 заповед на МАП определила този проект за приоритетен. Проектирането на механизма за развръщане на крилете било поето от МКБ ,,Родина,, (главен конструктор Селиванов). През януари-март 1966 завършила подготовката с изготвянето на чертеж на машината. Техническото ръководство на програмата било възложено на А. А. Андреев.
Самолет 23-11 бил снабден с маршови двигател Р-27Ф-300. Високо разположено крило снабдено със задкрилки по целия размах и спускаеми синхронно с тях предкрилки, то могло да се установява на ъгъл на стреловидност 16,45,72 градуса. Шасито било оригинална конструкция, прибирало се в шасито, като заемало съвсем малко място. На основните стойки на колесника били поставени гуми с голям диаметър КТ-133 830-225мм, които заедно с предното колело с размер 520-125мм обезпечавали отлична проходимост по грундови полоси. Конструкторите използвали максимално всички резерви, например вътрешните плоскости на основните стойки на шасито служели за отдаване на загрят въздух. На самолета бил поставен оригинален подфюзелажен кил, прибиращ се при кацане (за пръв път такава конструкция се появила при опитния Е-8, а впоследствие била заимствана от китайците при създаването на J-8ІІ).
Конструкцията на планера била изпълнена с широко използване на стоманени сплави. От тях в частност бил завареният основен силов елемент на самолета-централната секция на фюзелажа, използвана като интегрален резервоар. Кабината била с ниско разположено място на летеца покрито от неголям фанар, което обезпечавало снижаване на аеродинамичното съпротивление. Такова остъкление давало на пилота не лош обзор напред, обаче ограничавал обзора настрани и назад, което частично се компенсирало от монтирания перископ. Въоръжението се състояло от ракети К-23 и К-13, подкачени на два подкрилни и два подфюзелажни възли за подкачане.
В екипажа на първия опитен 23-11 влезли; шеф-пилота на фирмата А.В. Федотов, водещият инженер В.А. Микоян и авиотехника Скотников. За пръв път самолета се вдигнал в небето на 9 юли 1976-това може да се счита за рожденния ден на МИГ-23. Вече в хода на втория полет Федотов променил стреловидността на крилото във всички диапазони и както си спомня летеца изпитател Б. А. Орлов той останал напълно доволен от машината при изменение на ъгъла на стреловидност на крилото балансировката на самолета се изменяла незначително, много по малко от очакваното. Тази оценка се потвърждава и от записаното от Федотов в бордовия журнал ,,Полет при стреловидност от 16 до 72 градуса. Това е за пръв път. Великолепно.,,
Скоро към първия самолет се присъединили и машините 23-11/2 (водещ инженер Ю. Н. Ферулов) и 23-11/3 (водещ инженер (А. Н. Сошин).На последния самолет за пръв път поставили РЛС Сапфир-23.
Работата по изпитването на сложното и капризно радилокационно оборудване се водело при голямо напрежение на три смени. Едновременно Сапфир се отработвал и в ЛИИ на летяща лаборатория създадена на базата на опитния пътнически самолет Ту-110. По нататък в изпитанията се включили самолетите 23-1/4,23-11/5, 23-11/6,23-11/7, 23-11/8 и 23-11/9. В изпитателните полети участвали фирмените летци П. М. Остапенко, М. М. Комаров, Б. А. Орлов и А. Г. Фастовец, а също така изпитатели от ЛИИ и ГК НИИ ВВС. Както писал Орлов, МИГ-23 оставил в него като цяло отлично впечатление. Самолетът му харесал със своята скорост и не лош обзор от кабината.Обаче от управляемостта на самолета можело да се иска и повече. Освен вече споменатите инженери в изпитанията участвали също А. М. Герасименко, В. Д. Троицкий, В. С. Романчев, В. Н. Уткин, А.С. Вюшков и много други специалисти. Бил задействан практически целия щат на авиотехническата и полетна станция към ОКБ в Жуковски.
На 14 април 1968 Остапенко и Комаров провели комплекс изпитания на ракетното въоръжение на самолета. Изпълнени били 16 пуска на ракетите К-23 и К-13 на височина от 5 000 до 17 000 метра в широк диапазон от скорости. Изпитанията се провеждали на самолет който нямал РЛС и ракетите след пуска не се управлявали. Скоро на самолет 23-11/1 поставили по мощният вариант на двигателя на Хачатуров - изделие Р-44 (тяга на форсаж 9 000кгф). Впоследствие бил изпитан и още по мощният ТРДФ Р-47 (10 000 кгф).
Първият сериен вариант на изтребителя МИГ-23 (23-11 изделие 2) имал щатна система на въоръжение С-23 в състав РЛС Сапфир-23Л, топлопеленгатор ТП-23 и прицел АСП-23Д. Въоръжение - две ракети със средна далекобойност Р-23Р или Р-23Т и две ракети с малка далекобойност Р-3С (по късно Р-60).
Важно конструктивно отличие на МИГ-23 тип 23-11 (за тяхното обозначаване се използвало и името ,,МИГ-23 образец 1971г.). от МИГ-23С станало приемането на модернизираното крило от така наречената ,,ІІ редакция,, увеличена с 3км/2 площ на конзолата, аеродинамически изменения и без механизация на предните кромки, а също така с увеличено рамо на оперението; килът и стабилизаторът били изместени с 860мм назад. На самолета бил поставен модифициран двигател Р-27Ф-2М-300 с тяга 10 000 кс.Запасът от гориво бил увеличен с 470 литра с поставянето на четвърти резервоар в опашната част на фюзелажа. Предприетите мерки подобрили пилотажните данни и боевите възможности на изтребителя, а усъвършенстваните технологии повишили надеждността на самолета.
МИГ-23 тип 23-11 се строил серийно през 1970-1971г.
Бил разработен също така вариант МИГ-23 (изделие 23-41)-опитен вариант на изтребителя с принципно друга силова установка -ТРДФ АЛ-21Ф-3 с тяга 11 500 кгф, конструкция на ММЗ ,,Сатурн,, (генерален конструктор А. М. Люлка). Изпитанията показали че новата силова установка, имаща по голяма в сравнение Р-27Ф2-300 тяга, подобрила летателно-техническите характеристики на изтребителя. Обаче двигателя АЛ-21Ф-3 вече се използвал на изтребителя бомбардировач СУ-17М и на бомбардировача СУ-24, а мощностите на двигателостроителния завод били ограничени. Затова такава силова установка на МИГ-23 не била поставяна (с изключение на малка серия изтребители-бомбардировачи МИГ-23Б).
Всички останали самолети от това семейство (в това число и всички модификации на МИГ-27) били снабдени с различни варианти на ТРДФ разработвани от ММЗ ,,Союз,, (генерален конструктор С. К. Тумански) и неговия филиал ТМКБ ,,Союз,, (генерален конструктор К. Р. Хачатуров), станали развитие на Р27Ф-300 (двигателите Р27ФМ2-300,Р29-300,Р29Б-300 и Р-35).

Модификация МИГ-23
Размах на крилата, м
минимален 7,78
максимален 13,97
Дължина. 16,71 м
Височина. 4,50 м
Площ на крилата. 2 м
при ъгъл на стреловидност 16 37,27
при ъгъл на стреловидност 72 34,16
празен 10 690
нормална излетна 15 500
максимална излетна 18 200
гориво 4 090
Тип двигател 1 ТРДФ Р-27Ф2М-300
Максимална тяга.кгф 10 000
Максимална скорост .км/ч
на земя -1350
на голяма височина 2500
Далечина на полета км 1800
Практически таван.м 18 000
Максимално експлоатационно претоварване 8g
Екипаж 1 човек
Въоръжение; две ракети със средна далекобойност Р-23Р или Р-23Т и две ракети с малка далекобойност Р-3С (впоследствие Р-60). Webmaster: REFLX DESIGN - © 2006 xairforces / Aviation Society,