MiG-23 Flogger, Mikoyan-Gurevich

MiG-23 Flogger

The MiG-23 is a compact fighter with variable sweep wings, which combines good performance with the ability to operate from small and rough airfields. It was developed in parallel with the MiG-23PD. The first production series was the MiG-23S, powered by a R-27 engine. The true production model was the MiG-23M, substantially redesigned and powered by an R-29 engine, later replaced by the R-35. The MiG-23 was a capable fighter but lacked a look-down, shoot-down capability. Over 5800 were built. This includes the MiG-23BN ground attack version. A more specialized ground attack version was the MiG-27.

Type: MiG-23S (initial production variant)
Country: Soviet Union / Russia
Function: fighter
Year: 1969
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 10000 kg Khachaturov R-27M-300
Wing Span: 13.96m / 7.78 m
Length: 16.70 m
Wing Area: 32.10 m2 / 29.89m2
Empty Weight:
Max.Weight: 20100 kg
Speed: 1280 km/h
Range: 1800 km

Type: MiG-23MF 'Flogger-B'
Function: fighter
Year: 1974
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 12500kg Tumanski R-29B
Wing Span: 14.25m/8.17 m
Length: 16.80 m
Height: 4.35m
Wing Area: 28m2
Empty Weight:
Max.Weight: 20100 kg
Speed: 2445 km/h
Ceiling: 18600 m
Range: 1300 km
Armament: 1*g23mm

Type: MiG-23MLD 'Flogger-L'
Function: fighter
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * Khatchaturov R-35-300 afterburning turbojet, 83.6 kN dry, 127 kN afterburning
Wing Span: 13.97 m (spread)
Length: 16.70 m
Height: 4.82m
Wing Area: 37.35 m² (spread); 34.16 m² (swept possition)
Wing loading: 575 kg/m²
Empty Weight: 9595 kg
Max.Weight: 18030 kg
Thrust/weight: 0.88
Speed: Mach 2.35 at altitude, Mach 1.14 at sea level
Rate of climb: 240 m/s
Ceiling: 18500 m
Range: 1150 km with six AAMs combat, 2820 km ferry
Armament: 1 * Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L 23 mm cannon with 200 rounds, 3000 kg payload
Note : According to the MiG-23ML manual, the MiG-23ML has sustained turn rate of 14.1 deg/sec and a maximum instantaneous turn rate of 16.7 deg/sec. The MiG-23ML accelerates from 600 km/h to 900 km/h in 12 seconds at the altitude of 1000 meters. The MiG-23 accelerates at the altitude of 1 km from the speed of 630 km to 1300 km in just 30 seconds and at the altitude of 10-12 km will accelerate from Mach 1 to Mach 2 in just 160 seconds.


The MiG-23's predecessor, the MiG-21 (NATO reporting name 'Fishbed'), was fast and agile, but limited in its operational capabilities by its primitive radar, short range, and limited weapons load. The MiG-23 was to be a heavier, more powerful machine designed to remedy these deficiencies, and, it was hoped, rival Western aircraft like the F-4 Phantom. The new fighter was to feature a totally new S-23 sensor and weapon system suite capable of firing beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles.

A major design consideration was take-off and landing performance. The existing Soviet fast jets required very long runways, which combined with their limited range, limited their tactical usefulness. The Soviet Air Force demanded that the new aircraft have a much shorter take-off run. Low-level speed and handling was also to be improved over the MiG-21. This led Mikoyan to consider two alternatives: lift jets, to provide an additional lift component, and variable-geometry wings, which had been developed by TsAGI for both "clean-sheet" aircraft designs and adaptations of existing designs.

The first prototype, called "23-01" also known as the MiG-23PD, was a tailed delta-wing design similar to the MiG-21 but with two lift jets in the fuselage. However, it became apparent very early that this configuration was unsatisfactory, as the lift jets became useless dead weight once airborne. The second prototype, known as "23-11", featured variable-geometry wings which could be set to angles of 16, 45 and 72 degrees, and it was clearly more promising. The maiden flight of 23-11 took place on June 10, 1967, and three more prototypes were prepared for further flight and system testing. All featured the Tumansky R-27-300 turbojet engine with a thrust of 7850 kg. The order to start series production of the MiG-23 was given in December 1967.

The General Dynamics F-111 and McDonnell Douglas F-4 were the main Western influences on the MiG-23. The Russians, however, wanted a much lighter, single-engine fighter to maximize agility. Both the F-111 and the MiG-23 were designed as fighters, but the heavy weight of the F-111 turned it into a long-range interdictor and kept it out of the fighter role. The MiG-23's designers kept the MiG-23 light enough to dogfight with enemy fighters.
Aviation Top100 Home go back