Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 Flogger

Overview

Designed in the mid-1960s as a successor to the MiG-21 ‘Fishbed’ fighter, the MiG-23 ‘Flogger’ was a cheap, fast and versatile aircraft that performed well for the Warsaw Pact countries in the interceptor and ground attack roles.  The MiG-23 had a more powerful engine than its predecessor, and featured a variable swept wing similar to that of the American F-111 fighter-bomber.  The wing, when fully opened, provided a shorter take-off and landing capability and excellent low-speed handling; and, when swept back, made the type capable of speeds in excess of Mach 2.  The ‘Flogger’ was also hard-hitting, with a twin barrel 23mm cannon and provision for up to 3,000 kg (6,614lb) of externally fitted ordnance.  Unveiled in 1967, the MiG-23 entered service four years later and over 5,000 of the type were built before production ended in 1986.  The aircraft’s cheapness, ease of maintenance and ability to operate from short fields made it a popular export; and over 20 air forces would eventually operate the type.  Syrian MiG-23s saw combat during the Lebanon conflict (1975-1990), but the aircraft lacked modern radar and were outclassed by Israeli fighters.  In Afghanistan (1979-1988), however, the ‘Flogger’ performed well in the ground-attack role.  The type was also flown by the Iraqis in the war against Iran (1980-1988) and by Cuban pilots flying for the Angolan Air Force during the Angolan Civil War (1974-2002).  A dedicated ground-attack version, designated the MiG-27, was produced in the Soviet Union from the late 1970s and was later built under licence in India.

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