Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 (Flogger) History

The Mach 2-capable MiG-23 "Flogger" became the first true "swing-wing" fighter to enter service with the Soviet Union and went on to become a primary mount of the Soviet air services (replacing the range-limited MiG-21 "Fishbed") making it one of the most-produced and successful aircraft of the Cold War. The MiG-23 was made into a dedicated strike / fighter-bomber in the similar-yet-modified MiG-27 series. The MiG-23 itself went on to prove a reliable and robust performer through decades of service (and several notable wars and conflicts) and continues in active service with some air forces today. Relatively cheap for its time (between three and six million dollars a plane), the Mikoyan-Gurevich product was an easy sell to Warsaw Pact nations and Third World allies alike. In all, the MiG-23 represented the most important Soviet fighter for a good part of the 1970s and the early 1980s and were made all-the-more potent by their ability to carry nuclear-tipped weapons.

It should be noted that through most of the Cold War, the MiG-23 was thought to be nothing more than a "serviceable" and "highly utilitarian" aircraft at best. It was only some decades later that the old Western observations were upgraded to conclude that the MiG-23 was an impressive design in its own right, one that could match or (in some cases) out-best many of the available Western counterparts of the time.

About the MiG-27 "Flogger"

The MiG-27 "Flogger" is a direct development of the MiG-23 detailed in this entry and has its own write-up elsewhere on this website. The MiG-27 is essentially a dedicated ground-attack fighter-bomber form of the MiG-23 "Flogger" fighter / interceptor. It features the same swing-swing capability but is armored for low-level strike runs, has a broadened ground ordnance role across more external hardpoints and sports new fixed intake inlets. Its engine is decidedly less-complicated and features a simpler nozzle for the reduced-performance role. The twin-barrel cannon of the MiG-23 has given way to a multi-barrel type and special target acquisition systems are standard as is a terrain avoidance radar. The MiG-27 is discernable from the MiG-23 by its sleeker tapered nose cone assembly (promoting better "lookdown" capabilities). The MiG-27 was developed in two major derivatives under the NATO codenames of "Flogger-D" and the "Flogger-J". Use of the MiG-27 was primarily with the Soviet Union and India and began deliveries in 1975, ultimately seeing retirement with Russia in the 1990s. India took up license production of the type under the Hindustan Aeronautics banner as the Bahadur (or "Valiant").

Background

Mikoyan-Gurevich began as a manufacturer of piston-powered fighters during World War 2 with their most notable creations being the "hotrod" MiG-1 and MiG-3 fighters. Success continued in the post-war world with the unveiling of their revolutionary single-seat, single-engine MiG-15 "Fagot" jet-powered fighter in the Korean War - coming as quite the surprise to NATO forces to which the North American F-86 Sabre was directly developed to counter the new threat. The MiG-15 was followed into service by the much-improved MiG-17 "Fresco", another single-seat, single-engine implement with greater handling and performance overall. The MiG-19 "Farmer" then appeared as a twin-engine solution with supersonic (Mach 1.0) capability. Mikoyan-Gurevich found additional success with the development of the MiG-21 "Fishbed" - a Mach 2-capable single-seat, single-engine fighter that went on to be used throughout the world as both an interceptor and a limited strike fighter. This lengthy history had cemented Mikoyan-Gurevich as a major player in the development of Cold War jet fighters and solidified valuable experience gained in the design and development of different wing systems to solve different speed criteria and furthered the firm's understanding of jet-powered machines to keep Soviet air forces on par with their American counterparts.

By this time, McDonnell Douglas had brought online the fabulous F-4 Phantom II, a twin-seat, twin-engine Mach 2-capable fighter with a strong dogfighting prowess and inherent strike capabilities. The F-4 featured a powerful radar system coupled with high performance specifications and quickly became the primary mount of the USAF, USN and the USMC during her reign and, later, was fielded across Europe as an ultimate Soviet deterrent. The F-111 Aardvark was another American Cold War fighter design intended to solve a need for both the USAF and USN in one fail swoop. It featured a twin-seat, side-by-side cockpit, powerful twin engines and variable geometry wings for different flight performances. However, this expensive design bloated to become a long-range strike aircraft and was far from a fighter in the end product. Regardless, the F-4 and the F-111 would be the MiG-23's principle adversaries during the latter's design and development stages.

Development

The MiG-21 "Fishbed" was good for what it was initially designed for - speed. It could climb fast and achieve speeds of up to Mach 2 while fielding capable avionics and a weapons system that included both short-range cannon and longer-range missiles for most jobs at hand. However, if the MiG-21 was deficient in any areas it was in operational range, combat payload and its reliance on ground-based interception to help guide the system to a target area (no self-sustained sensors were onboard to handle such actions). Jet powerplants had always proven thirsty since the days of World War 2 and post-war jet technology the world over had yet to wholly solve the need for greater range output out of their engines - though progress was sure and steady by the time of the MIG-23 development. The clipped delta wings and slim fuselage of the MiG-21 had limited its armament potential across just four hardpoints by the time of the later production models. In all, this tailed-delta design was adequate for the interception role and, though it was developed into a ground strike variant, it was far from the answer of a the true multi-role performer that the Soviet Air Force was now looking for.

Development of the MiG-23 began in the early part of the 1960s as an attempt by the MiG bureau to counter the limitations of their MiG-21 product. As the Soviet authorities were growing evermore disappointed with the range of their MiG-21s, a new official specification was formed by 1965. The specification called for a modern, larger and heavier aircraft to be produced in two varied forms - an interceptor for use by the Soviet air defense force (PVO) and a ground-attack version for use by the Soviet tactical air forces, Frontal Aviation - all this while not requiring the aircraft to use much runway.

The MiG-23SM was the improved MiG-23S but still served in a pre-production evaluation role. Some 80 examples were eventually produced and these MiG-23s sported the full S-23 weapons suite (including the Sapfir-23 "High Lark" radar), an improved Tumansky R-27F2M-300 engine and capability for the AA-7 "Apex" semi-active, radar-homing missile system. The additions brought back Beyond Visual Range capability while the fire control system was redesigned and autopilot was improved. Wings were slightly revised as were the wing sweep positions (now 18.5, 47.5 and 74.5 degrees for the three available positions). An extra fuel tank was added internally for increased range. Engines were later improved to the Soyuz (Tumansky) R-29-300 series engines of 27,557lbs standard thrust fitting a shorter jetpipe.

The Ye-231, MiG-23, MiG-23S and MiG-23SM fell under the NATO first generation "Flogger-A" codename.

The MiG-23M was the first "true" mass-production form of the Flogger. First flight occurred in June of 1972 and production followed soon after. The powerplant was further uprated and sensor equipment was installed. The Sapfir-23 "High Lark" was an improved version of the original Doppler system and housed under a larger radome. The ASP-23D gunsight was installed and the vertical tail fin was relocated further aft, resulting in a definitive change in the aircraft's profile. The rear fuselage accommodated a new (fourth) internal fuel tank. Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) came in the form of the TP-23 system and capability with the R-23 missile was brought online. The M-model brought with it true "lookdown/shoot-down" capabilities, allowing the aircraft to engage targets under the horizon. A new "Type 1" wing - this featuring extended leading edges - was introduced bringing the "dogtooth" look along the inboard wing area (the "Type 2" wing was a wing structure that did away with the leading-edge slats while the "Type 3" wing, beginning in 1973, brought these back into the fold). The MiG-23M was received by Frontal Aviation as replacement for their MiG-21 air superiority fighters with ground attack considered a secondary role. The M-model was also delivered to the PVO and worked alongside existing "Fitters", "Flagons" and "Fishbeds" in the air defense role.

The MiG-23MF became the simplified export derivative of the MiG-23M production form. To export customers, the MiG-23MF model proved more popular than the MiG-23MS (detailed below) and was therefore sold to many nations with differing radar and communication setups as dictated by each particular operator. Radar was the RP-22 series housed under the small radome.

The MiG-23M and MiG-23MF models were collectively codenamed as "Flogger-B" by NATO.

The MiG-23U was a two-seat trainer developed from the MiG-23S. Since the MiG-23 proved to be unlike any previous aircraft available to Soviet airmen, they would require a applicable mount to learn its intricacies. A requirement for the aircraft was put forth in May of 1968 some six months after the main production model was green-lighted. First flight came in May of 1969. It featured the two-seat tandem arrangement but a new Tumansky R-29 series engine was utilized. The instructor occupied the rear cockpit and both positions were separated from one another and housed under individual canopies. With the addition of the second cockpit, one forward internal fuel tank was removed but a new one was added in the aft portion of the fuselage. The aircraft featured the S-21 weapon system. During its tenure, many of these MiG-23U trainers had their radar systems removed while others were brought up to the new MiG-23M standard. Production began in 1971 but the MiG-23U was eventually replaced by the more-capable MiG-23UB trainers. The MiG023U retained some of its combat capabilities.

The MiG-23UB (prototype Model 23-51) was another MiG-23 trainer. While the MiG-23UB was relegated to flight and weapons training, it still retained some limited combat capabilities. These MiG-23s were identified by their twin separate cockpits, Type 3 wings (with non-swiveling underwing pylons) and a cone-like fairing along the starboard wingroot housing the AA-7 "Apex" missile illuminator pod. As the two cockpits were not "stepped" (one higher than the other), the rear instructor's rear position was fitted with a retractable periscope to afford him a better view of the forward action. Additionally, the instructor had a whole suite of pre-programmed situations to which he could field against the student pilot. Angle-of-Attack (AoA) was limited for safety reasons. Production ended in 1975 to which some 769 total examples were produced and widely distributed out of Irkutsk. Both MiG-23 and MiG-27 operators used the MiG-23UB trainer as a starting point for their Flogger pilots.

Both the MiG-23U and the MiG-23UB trainers were identified by NATO under the "Flogger-C" codename.

The MiG-23MS was a downgraded export variant of the MiG-23M production model. The product was sold with its S-21 weapon system intact though tied to an RP-22SM "Jay Bird" radar. Missile capability was restricted to the AA-2 "Atoll" and AA-8 "Aphid" missiles and this version lacked Beyond Visual Range capability. Production ran from 1973 into 1978.

The MiG-23MP was similar to the MiG-23MS but never exported and saw only limited production numbers within the Soviet Union.

The MiG-23MS and MiG-23MP were collectively codenamed as "Flogger-E" in NATO terminology.

The MiG-23ML (from prototype Model 23-12) was a redesigned MiG-23 to help combat the reports of airframe fatigue and stress being encountered by early Floggers while at the same time attention was put into improving handling at high angles of attack. Maneuverability was enhanced and promoted higher G-limits (now 8.5 from 8.0). The fourth rear internal fuel tank was deleted, aerodynamic refinements were instituted and the vertical tail fin was modified with no dorsal fin extension. All of these changes resulting in a lightened airframe. The undercarriage was further redesigned while a new Soyuz (Tumansky) R-35F-300 series powerplant of 28,660lbs thrust with afterburner was installed. The rectangular intake fitted variable ramps doubling as splitter plates that would counteract the slower-moving air near the fuselage.

Internally, the avionics suite was given a complete overhaul while communications systems and autopilot were improved. The radar was upgraded to the Sapfir-23ML system featuring a range of up to 56 miles (over the previous 37-mile limitation). Look-down and jamming capabilities were equally improved while the HUD (Heads-Up Display) served up the radar picture to the pilot - negating the need for the pilot to take his eyes off of the forward action in order to read his system. Standard armament remained the GSh-23L twin-barreled cannon system fitted inside of a GP-9 gun pack under the fuselage. In all, the changes brought about better performance and capability through a refined and lightened airframe. Top speed was Mach 2.35 (1,555 mph) at altitude with a climb rate of 50,000 feet-per-minute up to a service ceiling of 60,700 feet. Combat range was 970 nautical miles with a ferry range listed at 1,515 nautical miles.

1984 saw the development of the MiG-23UM as another two-seat trainer to follow in line with the MiG-23ML and MiG-23P platforms. Earlier MiG-23UB systems were upgraded to the new MiG-23UM standard and featured the Angle of Attack restriction to prevent stalls as well as the UUA-1 AoA indicator. Restrictive combat capabilities are still retained.

The MiG-23MF became another export derivative, though this one retaining much of its Soviet original equipment. The "High Lark" fire control radar was still in place and support for the AA-7 missile was standard. Deliveries were made to Warsaw Pact allies and (later) to Third World entities Angola, India, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The MiG-23P was similar to the improved MiG-23ML and produced from the Model 23-14 prototype. It was essentially a modified - yet dedicated - interceptor for the PVO, fitting an improved Sapfir-23P series radar as well as an improved avionics and a new digital computer for interacting with ground control. The MiG-23P could better make use of ground-based navigation, bringing the aircraft to the interception point automatically while allowing the pilot a lightened workload and freedom to concentrate on weapons delivery and engine control. Cues could be delivered to the pilot as to when to ignite afterburner or release his weaponry.

The MiG-23bis brought back the Infra-Red Scan and Tracking system as well as a new, more informative HUD (Head-Up Display).

The MiG-23MLA was a later production variant of the MiG-23ML. The Electronic Countermeasures suite was improved as was the radar system. A new gunsight was installed. Production ran from 1978 to 1982 and produced some 1,000 examples. The MLA-model was delivered to Warsaw Pact nations and Third World entities in varying, yet simplified, forms.

The second generation MiG-23MF, MiG-23P, MiG-23bis and the MiG-23MLA were all categorized under the NATO codename of "Flogger-G".

The MiG-23MLD (model 23-18) was the definitive fighter form of the MiG-23 production line and became the final single-seat MiG-23s produced (reportedly converted from existing MiG-23MLs). Much attention was paid into improve combat handling. Close-in fighting was improved as were avionics, general pilot safety and the Sapfir-23MLA-II radar. Vortex generators was added to the wingroots and nose probe while leading edge root notches were incorporated to the wings. Countermeasures were addressed by the installation of chaff/flare dispensers along the rear upper fuselage. Countermeasures were further linked to a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) for enemy missile protection. The AA-11 "Archer" short-range missile became a new Soviet staple and increased the MiG-23s lethality as a fighter to an extent. The underwing pylons were redesigned to swivel in an effort to maintain optimal airflow during wing sweep processes at speed.

Interestingly, no new-build MiG-23MLD models were ordered for the Soviet Air Force. Instead conversions of some 560 existing MiG-23MLs were made. Deliveries occurred from 1982 through 1985. As with other new variants, the MLD was offered to Warsaw Pact and Third World customers in simplified forms - these interestingly were in fact new-build models. Production of the MiG-23MLD ended in 1984.

The MiG-23MLD became the "Flogger-K" codename in NATO lore.

Fighter-Bomber MiG-23 Floggers

The MiG-23 "Flogger" was developed into capable ground attack forms falling under the NATO codenames of "Flogger-F" and "Flogger-H".

"Flogger-F" was a fighter-bomber made up of the MiG-23B which was itself developed from the Mikoyan-Gurevich 32-24 prototype (of which three were ultimately produced) and still further related in origin to the MiG-23S. The straight-line speed, robustness and relatively cheap cost of the MiG-23 fighter made it an ideal candidate for conversion into a fighter-bomber. By 1969, a movement began to develop the MiG-23 as such and first flight was achieved on August 20th, 1970, with an airframe sporting an all-new forward fuselage and improvements made to the cockpit to compensate for the dangers inherent in low-altitude flying. The nose cone was revised to provide better forward and downward visibility while cockpit seat was raised. The windscreen was armored along with the cockpit sides and fuel tanks were made fire resistant through an inert gas-injection fire protection system. The radar system of her interceptor counterparts was removed and replaced by the PrNK Sokol-23S series navigation/attack suite comprised of the PBK-3 bomb sight and a built-in laser rangefinder. The navigation suite was further improved as was the all-important autopilot feature. The wingroot gloves were affixed with leading edge fairings housing a TV camera and a missile illuminator (initially introduced in the upcoming MiG-23BN but fielded in the MiG-23B first). Weapons loadout was appropriately increased for the new role and the suitable Lyulka (Lyul'ka) AL-21F-300 turbofan engine was fitted into a shortened rear fuselage. The MiG-23B was initially fitted with the Type 2 wing but later updated with the Type 3 wing. Despite the upgrades, production was limited to a small 24 examples spanning 1971 to 1972 as a new and improved variant became available (this being the MiG-23BN). The MiG-23B was not exported like previous MiG-23s were.

The MiG-23BN (32-23) was based on the MiG-23B and fitted with the less-powerful Soyuz (Tumansky) R-29B-300 series engine and an upgraded PrNK Sokol 23N navigation/attack system. Actually intended as the first strike version in the series, the MiG-23BN would have to wait for inception into service as its expected engine and internal systems faced developmental delays. Export totals of the BN-model were good and the type formed the definitive ground-attack form of the MiG-23 fighter line until replaced by the MiG-27. Some 624 examples appeared from 1973 to 1985.

The MiG-23BN fell under the NATO "Flogger-H" designation.

However, both the MiG-23B and the MiG-23BN proved somewhat inferior once in service. As such, Mikoyan-Gurevich looked to improve both types and gave life to the MiG-23BK (Model 32-26) and the MiG-23BM (Model 32-25). Both of these new aircraft became direct upgrades to the previous two offerings with some existing models converted to these standards while others were simply exported for logistics sake.

The MiG-23BK fitted the same PrNK-23 navigation/attack system as found on the MiG-27K along with laser rangefinder and improved avionics. The aircraft was only made available for export to Warsaw Pact nations. The MiG-23BM was of a similar design but incorporated the Sokol PrNK-23M navigation/attack system of the MiG-27D as well as its own improved avionics. The changes lengthened the service lives of these two aircraft and made them viable strike fighters.

Both aircraft shared the NATO codename of "Flogger-H".

The MiG-23BM "Experimental" was devised as a truly dedicated strike aircraft, doing away with much of the MiG-23's fighter origins. This development eventually graduated to become the successful line of MiG-27 Floggers detailed elsewhere on this site.

Floggers in Afghanistan

The Flogger was fielded in the Soviet-Afghanistan War of the 1980s. As the Afghan forces lacked any sort of viable air force, the MiG-23 was utilized heavily in the ground-attack role. These Floggers were therefore equipped with chaff/flare dispensers to combat the growing number of shoulder-launched, infra-red, American-made Stinger missiles being fielded by rebel forces. The fighting eventually spilled over into portions of Pakistan where MiG-23s were engaged by Pakistani F-16 Fighting Falcons. At least two MiG-23s were credited as downed by the Pakistani Air Force in the ensuing action.

Flogger Sacrifice

Colonel Anatolij Levchenko achieved the highest Soviet title of "Hero of the Soviet Union" when he lost his life in actions during the Soviet-Afghanistan War. Having received detrimental direct hits from AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) ground fire during an attack run against enemy targets at Salang Pass, his damaged plane refused to allow him to eject. Seemingly knowing his situation was dire, Levchenko pointed his damaged aircraft at the AAA installation and plowed the emplacement at full speed, subsequently destroying it and its surprised operators at the cost of his own life.

Additional Actions

The MiG-23 was fielded by Syria in the 1982 war in Lebanon to which Israeli F-15 Eagles maintained the advantage. Iraq utilized the type against Iran in their bloody war from 1980 to 1988. Likewise, Iraq brought the MiG-23 out to play once again in the lopsided Gulf War of 1991. Iraq fielded the MiG-23 once more in actions encompassing Operation Desert Fox in 1998. American F-14 Tomcats successfully destroyed Libyan MiG-23s on camera in a much publicized engagement.

Miscellaneous

The MiG-23 has been retired from Soviet/Russian service since 1994 though large stockpiles remain in storage. Fewer and fewer operators of the MiG-23 remain to date with places like Turkmenistan (230), Syria (146) and Libya (130) maintaining large collections in operational service. Indian MiG-23BN models of the IAF were officially retired on March 6th, 2009, completing nearly 30 years of service to the nation. Many of the currently flyable MiG-23s are MiG-23ML, MiG-23MLD, MiG-23MF and MiG-23MF fighter types. About a quarter are then made up of the MiG-23BN fighter-bomber forms and the rest are MiG-23UB trainers. It is expected that the MiG-23 airframe and available weapon systems will be of use to their respective operators up until 2015

The Flogger was replaced in the fighter and strike aircraft roles for Russia by the much-improved Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 "Fulcrum".

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 (Flogger) Specification

BASICS

Year:
1970
Status:
Active, Limited Service
Crew:
1

MANUFACTURING

[ 5,047 Units ]:
Mikoyan-Gurevich - Soviet Union

ROLES

- Fighter

- Interception

- Ground Attack

DIMENSIONS

Length:

55.12 ft (16.8 m)

Width/Span:

46.75 ft (14.25 m)

Height:

14.27 ft (4.35 m)

WEIGHTS

Empty Weight:

21,164 lb (9,600 kg)

MTOW:

39,793 lb (18,050 kg)

(Diff: +18,629lb)

POWER

1 x Soyuz (Tumansky) R-29 afterburning turbojet engine developing 27,550 lb of thrust.

PERFORMANCE

Maximum Speed:

1,553 mph (2,500 kph; 1,350 kts)

Service Ceiling:

61,024 feet (18,600 m; 11.56 miles)

Maximum Range:

1,752 miles (2,820 km; 1,523 nm)

Rate-of-Climb:

47,245 ft/min (14,400 m/min)

ARMAMENT

STANDARD:

1 x 23mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L twin-barrel 23mm cannon in a GP-9 gun pod under the fuselage (200 rounds).

OPTIONAL:

As a fighter-interceptor whose role has been expanded over its career, the MiG-23 can be called upon to field a variety of ordnance including (up to 6,600lb externally):

Air-to-Air Missiles, Air-to-Surface Missiles, Rocket Pods, and Conventional Drop Bombs.

VARIANTS

Ye-231 (Flogger-A) / Model 23-11 - Prototype Designation

MiG-23 (Flogger-A) - Pre-Production Designation; sans hardpoints; "sawtooth" wing leading edge; 1 x dual-barreled 23mm NSh-23 cannon.

MiG-23S (Flogger-A) - Pre- Production Model for evaluation and testing as well as first production model of note; fitted with improved Tumansky R-27F2-300 turbojet engine; S-21 weapon system with RP-22SM radar; 60 examples produced between 1969 and 1970.

MiG-23SM (Flogger-A) / MiG-23 Type 1971 - Improved Pre-Production Model; S-23 weapons suite with Sapfir-23L radar; AA-7 "Apex" missile capability; increased wing area; revised sawtooth leading wing edge' wings sans slats; increased wing sweep and revised sweep degrees; tail fin relocated further aft; extra internal fuel tank added for increased range; 80 examples produced.

MiG-23M (Flogger-B) - Initial Mass-Production Model; first flight in June of 1972; leading edge wing slats; Fitted with R-29-300 (R-29A) series engine; Sapfir-23D "High Lark" radar system; TP-23 Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) system; ASP-23D gunsight; Lasur-SMA datalink; AA-7 "Apex" and AA-8 "Aphid" missile capability; double-pylons appearing from 1974 onwards; some ground attack capability; nuclear capable; 1,300 examples produced.

MiG-23MF (Flogger-B) - Export Version of MiG-23M; Warsaw Pact and Third World sub-variants; Third World variant with downgraded radar and sans electronic countermeasures.

MiG-23U (Flogger-C) - Twin-Seat Trainer; based on the MiG-23MS export variant; lengthened cockpit area; deletion of one forward internal fuel tank while adding a new rear internal fuel tank; S-21 weapon system; later upgraded to MiG-23M standard.

MiG-23UB (Flogger-C) - Twin-Seat Trainer; similar to MiG-23U; R-29 engine; produced until 1985; 769 production examples with conversions from MiG-23U as well.

MiG-23MP (Flogger-E) - Similar to MiG-23M but more close to the MiG-23MS; never exported; limited production total.

MiG-23MS (Flogger-E) - Export Variant; based on the MiG-23M; based on the MiG-23M production model; S-21 weapon system; RP-22SM "Jay Bird" radar; smaller nose cone; sans Infra-Red Search and Track and Beyond Visual Range capability; limited to AA-2a "Atoll", AA-2d "Atoll" and AA-8 "Aphid" missiles; simplified avionics suite; production between 1973 and 1978.

MiG-23P (Flogger-G) - Air Defense Interceptor; similar to MiG-23L; improved avionics suite; Sapfir-23P radar system; sans Infra-red Search and Track; new digital computer for autopilot; Lasur-M datalink; Ground Control Interception-capable; 500 examples produced from 1978 to 1981; never exported.

MiG-23bis (Flogger-G) - Similar to MiG-23P; IRST brought back; new HUD.

MiG-23ML (Flogger-G) - Improved Flogger; redesigned airframe; lighter overall weight; deletion of rear internal fuel tank; aerodynamic refinements; sans dorsal fin extension; redesigned undercarriage; 8.5 G-limit; fitted with R-35F-300 series engine; improved thrust-to-weight ratio; improved avionics suite and autopilot; revised navigation suite; new datalink and radio system; first flight in 1976 with production beginning in 1978.

MiG-23MLA (Flogger-G) - Similar to MiG-23ML production model' improved ECM and radar systems; new ASP-17ML HUD and gunsight; capability for improved AA-7 "Apex" missiles; 1,100 examples produced for Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact nations and Third World export customers.

MiG-23MLD (Flogger-K) - Definitive MiG-23 fighter variant; vortex generators added to pitot boom and wing leading edges; improved avionics; Sapfir-23MLA-II radar system; SPO-15L radar warning receiver; chaff/flare dispensers on upper rear fuselage; capability for AA-11 "Archer" missiles; 560 conversions from 1982 to 1985; Warsaw and Third World exports were new-builds; production ceased in 1984.

MiG-23B (Flogger-F) -Fighter-Bomber Variant; first prototype flight on August 20th, 1970; redesigned forward fuselage; raised pilot seat; cockpit armoring; fire-proof fuel tanks; sans radar system; Sokol-23 ground attack sight system; laser rangefinder; PBK-3 bombsight; improved autopilot and navigation suite; increased ordnance load; electronic warfare suite; AL-21F-3 turbofan engine; limited production of 24 examples from 1971 to 1972.

MiG-23BK (Flogger-H) - Fighter-Bomber Variant; export model for Warsaw Pact countries; PrNK-23 navigation and attack system; intake-mounted radar warning receivers.

MiG-23BM (Flogger-H) - Fighter-Bomber Variant; upgraded MiG-23BK models; PrNK-23M system; digital computer.

MiG-23M (Flogger-H) - Revised Ground Strike Variant; ultimately becoming the MiG-27 dedicated ground strike variant.

MiG-23BN (Flogger-H) - Fighter-Bomber Variant; similar to MiG-23B production model; R-29-300 series engines; Type 3 wing; revised electronics; production from 1973 into 1985; 624 examples produced.

MiG-27 (Flogger) - Dedicated Ground Attack Version of the MiG-23.

MiG-23R - Proposed Reconnaissance Variant; never produced.

MiG-23MLGD - Further Upgrade; revised equipment and radar.

MiG-23MLG - Further Upgrade; revised equipment and radar.

MiG-23MLS - Further Upgrade; revised equipment and radar.

MiG-23K - Carrierborne Variant; based on the MiG-23ML; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23A - Multi-Role Variant; based on the MiG-23K model; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23AI - Proposed MiG-23A sub-variant; improved dedicated fighter; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23AB - Proposed MiG-23A sub-variant; improved dedicated attack platform; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23AR - Proposed MiG-23A sub-variant; dedicated reconnaissance platform; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23MLK - Proposed design with 1 x R-100 or 2 x R-33 engines.

MiG-23MD - Fitted with Saphir-23MLA-2 radar; based on the MiG-23M model.

MiG-23ML-1 - Proposed re-engined Flogger; 1 x R-100 or R-69F engine or 2 x R-33 engine.

MiG-23-98 - Proposed upgraded Flogger; new radar and defensive systems; revised cockpit; new avionics suite; helmet-mounted sight; AA-10 "Alamo" capability.

MiG-23-98-2 - Proposed radar upgrade to existing Floggers.

COCKPIT

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 (Flogger)

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