Mikoyan MiG-23ML Flogger-G
Soviet single-engine single-seat swing-wing supersonic jet fighter

Archive Photos 1

Mikoyan MiG-23ML Flogger-G (20+13) on display (8/21/2008) at the Förderverein des Luftwaffenmuseums der Bundeswehr e.V., Bundesgeschäftsstelle, Berlin, Germany (Photo by John Shupek copyright © 200x Skytamer Images)

Overview 2

The Mikoyan Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" (NATO reporting name: Flogger) is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is considered to belong to the Soviet third generation jet fighter category, along with similarly aged Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 "Foxbat". It was the first attempt by the Soviet Union to design look-down/shoot-down radar and one of the first to be armed with beyond visual range missiles, and the first MiG production fighter aircraft to have intakes at the sides of the fuselage. Production started in 1970 and reached large numbers with over 5,000 aircraft built. Today the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" remains in limited service with various export customers.

Development 2

The MiG-23’s predecessor, the MiG-21 "Fishbed", was fast and agile, but limited in its operational capabilities by its primitive radar, short range, and limited weapons load (restricted in some aircraft to a pair of short-range R-3/K-13 (AA-2 "Atoll") air-to-air missiles). The Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" "Flogger" was to be a heavier, more powerful machine designed to remedy these deficiencies, and match Western aircraft like the McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II". The new fighter was to feature a totally new S-23 sensor and weapon system capable of firing beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles.

A major design consideration was take-off and landing performance. Existing Soviet fast jets required very long runways which, combined with their limited range, restricted their tactical usefulness. The VVS demanded 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 options: 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" but also known as the MiG-23PD, was a tailed delta 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 10 June 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 kp. The order to start series production of the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" was given in December 1967.

The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" and McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II" were the main Western influences on the MiG-23. The Soviets, however, wanted a much lighter, single-engine fighter to maximize agility. Both the F-111 "Aardvark" and the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" were designed as fighters, but the heavy weight and inherent stability of the F-111 "Aardvark" turned it into a long-range interdictor and kept it out of the fighter role. The MiG-23’s designers kept the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" light and agile enough to dogfight with enemy fighters.

Design 2


The MiG-23’s armament evolved as the type’s avionics were upgraded and new variants were deployed. The earliest versions, which were equipped with the MiG-21’s fire control system, were limited to firing variants of the R-3/K-13 (AA-2 "Atoll") missile. The R-60 (AA-8 "Aphid") replaced the R-3 during the 1970’s, and from the MiG-23M onwards the BVR R-23/R-24 (AA-7 "Apex") was carried. The MiG-23MLD is capable of firing the R-73 (AA-11 "Archer"), but this missile was not exported until the MiG-29 was released for export. The helmet-mounted sight associated with the R-73 missile was fitted on the MiG-23MLDG and other experimental MiG-23MLD subvariants that never entered production as had been originally planned. The reason was that these MiG-23MLD subvariants had less priority than the then ongoing MiG-29 program, and the Mikoyan bureau therefore decided to concentrate all their efforts on the MiG-29 program and halted further work on the MiG-23. Nevertheless, a helmet-mounted sight is now offered as part of the MiG-23-98 upgrade. There were reports of the MiG-23MLD being capable of firing the R-27 (AA-10 "Alamo") beyond experimental tests; however, it seems only Angola’s MiG-23-98’s are capable of doing so. A Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" was used to test and fire the R-27, R-73, and R-77 (AA-12 "Adder") air-to-air missiles during their early flight and firing trials. Ground-attack armament includes 57 mm rocket pods, general purpose bombs up to 500 kg in size, gun pods, and Kh-23 (AS-7 "Kerry") radio-guided missiles. Up to four external fuel tanks could be carried.


The Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" had the advantage of being quite cheap in the early 1980’s. For example, the MiG-23MS was priced between US$3.6 million and US$6.6 million depending on the customer; on the other hand in 1980, the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon was priced at US$14 million, and the Flogger’s closest Western competitor was the Israeli $4.5 million Kfir C2. This allowed the Soviets to mass-produce the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" in significant numbers in order to gain a significant quantitative advantage over NATO air forces, especially since the Western world was recoiling under the effects of the 1973 Oil Crisis.

Operational History 2

Western and Russian aviation historians usually differ in respect to the MiG-23’s combat record, in part due to the bias in favor of their respective national aircraft industries. They also usually accept claims going along with their respective political views since usually many conflicting and contradictory reports are written and accepted by their respective historians. Little pictorial evidence has been published confirming Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" air to air losses and victories, with the exception of a SAAF "Mirage" F-1CZ damaged by a Cuban MiG-23ML and subsequently written-off in a rough landing, the Libyan MiG-23’s shot down by U.S. Navy Grumman F-14 "Tomcats" and two pictures of Syrian MiG-23’s shot down in 1982 by Israeli forces.


The first downgraded export version, the MiG-23MS was first supplied to Syria on 14 October 1973, when two MiG-23MS and two MiG-23UB were shipped in crates, aboard An-12B "Cub "transports. By the time these planes could be assembled, flight-tested and their crews made combat ready, the war with Israel was over. During 1974 several Syrian MiG-23MS were lost in accidents. The process of making the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" operational was complex and difficult, and only eight were operational by 1974. The first MiG-23’s to see combat were export variants with many limitations. For example, the MiG-23MS lacked a radar warning receiver. In addition, compared to the MiG-21, the aircraft was mechanically complex and expensive, and also less agile. Early export variants also lacked many "war reserve modes" in their radars, making them vulnerable against electronic countermeasures (ECM), at which the Israelis were especially proficient.

On 13 April 1974, after almost 100 days of artillery exchanges and skirmishes along the Golan Heights, Syrian helicopters delivered commandos to attack the Israeli observation post at Jebel Sheikh. This provoked heavy clashes in the air and on the ground for almost a week. During these clashes Captain al-Masry flew his MIG-23MS on a weapons test to the northwest of Damascus when he saw a formation of seven to eight Israeli F-4E "Phantom II’s" ahead of his MiG and became the only Syrian pilot to have downed two Israeli aircraft in a single combat. Due to this success, an additional 24 MiG-23MS interceptors, as well as a similar number of MiG-23BN’s, a new strike version, were delivered to Syria during the following year. In 1978, deliveries of MiG-23MF’s started, equipping two squadrons.

The MiG-23MF, MiG-23MS and MiG-23BN were employed in combat by Syria over the Lebanon between 1981 and 1985. Israel claims that during the period of 1982-1985 no Israeli aircraft was lost to enemy aircraft and that Israel only lost five aircraft shot down by Syrian SAM’s.

During the Israeli Operation ’Peace for Galilee’ in 1982, Israeli aircraft struck Syrian SAM’s, resulting in the destruction of nineteen sites and the damaging of four. Israeli reports, unconfirmed by Syrian or Russian sources, but endorsed by the majority of Western historians, claim that during the period of intense fighting from 6-11 June 1982, 85 Syrian aircraft were shot down in air combat. At least 30 of these aircraft were reported by Israeli sources to be MiG-23’s, but mainly the radarless ’export’ MiG-23BN.

Russians and Syrian claim numerous successes for MiG-23’s, which are denied by Israeli and Western sources:

This Soviet/Russian source also states the Syrians lost 24 MiG-23’s, including six MiG-23MF’s, four export MiG-23MS’s and 14 MiG-23BN ground-attack variants. At the same time, Syrian MiG-23’s managed to shoot down at least five General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcons", two McDonnell Douglas F-4E "Phantom II’s", and a Ryan BQM-34 "Firebee" unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. These are some of the Syrian Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" kills as described in a Soviet/Russian source:

Syrian Civil War

On 7 March 2012, Syrian rebels used a 9K115-2 Metis-M anti-tank guided missile to damage a Syrian Air Force MiG-23MS while parked at Abu-Dhahur air base. Syrian MiG-23BN’s bombed the city of Aleppo on 24 July 2012, the first use of fixed wing aircraft bombing in the Syrian Civil War.

On 13 August 2012, a Syrian MiG-23BN was reportedly shot down by rebel Free Syrian Army forces near Deir ez-Zor, although the government claimed it went down due to technical difficulties.

Iran-Iraq War

The Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" took part in the Iran-Iraq War and was used in both air-to-air and air-to-ground roles. The reports about performance in air combat are mixed. Some authors claim that Iraqi MiG-23’s had some victories and several losses against Iranian Grumman F-14 "Tomcats" and McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II’s". For example it is said that Colonel Mohammed-Hashem All-e-Agha was shot down by an Iraqi Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" while flying his Grumman F-14 "Tomcat" on 11 August 1984. Furthermore, Capt. Bahram Ghaneii was shot down by a MiG-23ML on 17 January 1987. According to Iranian sources, four MiG-23’s were shot down by Grumman F-14 "Tomcats" on 29 October 1980.

Iranian Grumman F-14 "Tomcats" caused exceptionally heavy losses to the type Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" early in the war, much to the disappointment of Iraqi air force, which thought that the Soviet fighter would be a match for the Grumman F-14 "Tomcat". During the Iran-Iraq war at least 58 MiG-23’s were shot down by Grumman F-14 "Tomcats", confirmed by Iranian, western and Iraqi sources. Five of these 58 MiG-23’s were shot down by K. Sedghi. Also 20 MiG-23’s were shot down by McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantoms".

Angolan Civil War

Cuban MiG-23ML’s and South African Dassault "Mirage F1" pilots had several encounters during the Angolan Civil War, one of which resulted in a "Mirage" being lost.

On 27 September 1987, during Operation Modular, two Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" pilots surprised a pair of "Mirages" and fired missiles: Alberto Ley Rivas engaged a "Mirage" flown by Capt Arthur Piercey with a pair of R-23R’s (some sources say a R-60), while the other Cuban pilot fired a single R-60 at a "Mirage" flown by Captain Carlo Gagiano. Although the missiles homed on the "Mirages", only one R-23R exploded close enough to cause damage - to the landing hydraulics of Capt Piercey’s "Mirage" (and, according to some accounts, the aircraft’s drag chute). The damage likely contributed to the "Mirage" veering off the runway on landing, after which the nose gear collapsed. The nose hit the ground so hard that Piercey’s ejection seat fired. As a the result of this ground level ejection, Piercey was paralyzed. The aircraft was written off, but a large portion of the airframe and components were used to repair another damaged (accident) "Mirage F-1" and return it to service.

FAPLA MiG-23’s outclassed SAAF "Mirage F-1CZ" and "Mirage F-1AZ" fighters in terms of power/acceleration, radar/avionics capabilities, and air-to-air weapons. The MiG-23’s R-23 and R-60 missiles gave FAPLA pilots the ability to engage SAAF aircraft from most aspects. The SAAF, hobbled by an international arms embargo, was forced to carry an obsolescent version of the French Matra R.550 "Magic" missile or early-generation V-3 "Kukri" missiles, which had limited range and performance relative to the AA-8 and AA-7. Despite these limitations, SAAF pilots were able to vector within the firing envelope and fire AAM’s at MiG-23’s (gun camera shots evidence this.) The missiles either missed or exploded ineffectually behind in the tail plume rather than homing on the hot airframe.

UNITA rebels, opposing Cuban/MPLA forces, shot down a number of MiG-23’s with American-supplied FIM-92 "Stinger MANPAD" missiles. South African ground forces shot down a Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" during a raid on the Caleque Dam by using the Ystervark (porcupine) 20mm AA gun.

Soviet War in Afghanistan

Soviet MiG-23’s and Pakistani General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcons" clashed a few times during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. One General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" was lost in 1987, Pakistan considers it a friendly fire incident, but the Soviet-Backed Afghan government of the time claimed that its soviet aircraft downed the Pakistani General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcons" - a claim that The New York Times and the Washington Post also reported. According to a Russian version of the event, the General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" was shot down when Pakistani General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcons" encountered Soviet MiG-23MLD’s. Soviet MiG-23MLD pilots, while on a bombing raid along the Pakistani-Afghan border, reported being attacked by General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcons" and then seeing one General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" explode. It could have been downed by gunfire from a MiG whose pilot did not report the kill.

According to Pakistani sources, the General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" piloted by Flt.Lt. Shahid Sikander was shot down in a friendly fire incident, after he flew directly in front of his flight leader and was hit by an AIM-9 "Sidewinder" fired at the MiG-23’s. This version has been cited with more credibility by western sources claiming the MiG-23MLD were on a ground attack mission and therefore not equipped with air to air missiles.

A year later, Soviet MiG-23MLD’s using R-23’s (NATO: AA-7 "Apex") downed two Iranian Bell AH-1J "Cobras" that had intruded into Afghan airspace. In a similar incident a decade earlier, on 21 June 1978, a PVO MiG-23M flown by Pilot Captain V. Shkinder shot down two Iranian Boeing CH-47 "Chinook" helicopters that had trespassed into Soviet airspace, one helicopter being dispatched by two R-60 missiles and the other by cannon fire.


Libya received a total of 54 MiG-23MS and MiG-23U’s between 1974 and 1976, followed by a similar number of MiG-23BN’s. Many of these were immediately put into storage, but at least 20 MiG-23MS’s and MiG-23UB’s entered service with the 1023rd Squadron and 1124th Squadron.

At least one Libyan MiG-23MS was shot down by an Egyptian fighter during and immediately after the Libyan-Egyptian War in 1977 while supporting a strike on the airfield at Mersa-Matruh, forcing the remainder MiG’s to abort the mission. In one skirmish in 1979, two LARAF MiG-23MS engaged two EAF MiG-21MF which had been upgraded to carry Western air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9P3 "Sidewinder". The Libyan pilots made the mistake of trying to outmaneuver the more nimble Egyptian MiG-21’s, and one MiG-23MS was shot down by Maj. Sal Mohammad with an AIM-9P3 "Sidewinder" missile, while the other used its superior speed to escape. Two Libyan MiG-23MS fighters were shot down by U.S. Navy Grumman F-14 "Tomcats" in the Gulf of Sidra incident in 1989. On 18 July 1980, the wreckage of an LARAF MiG-23MS was found on the northern side of Mount Sila, in the middle of the Italian province of Calabria. The pilot’s body was found still strapped to his ejection seat, and on his helmet, was the name, Ezedin Koal.

In the 2011 Libyan civil war, Libyan Air Force MiG-23’s have been used to bomb rebel positions. On 15 March 2011, a rebel website reported that opposition forces started using a captured Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" and a helicopter to sink 2 loyalist ships and bomb some tank positions.

On 19 March 2011, a MiG-23BN of the Free Libyan Air Force was shot down over Benghazi by its own air defenses, who mistook it for a loyalist aircraft. The pilot was killed after he ejected too late.

On 26 March 2011, five MiG-23’s together with two Mil Mi-35 helicopters were destroyed by the French Air Force while parked at Misrata airport, early reports misidentified the fixed wing aircraft as G-2 "Galebs".

On 9 April, another rebel Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" was intercepted over Benghazi by NATO aircraft and escorted Back to its base for violating the UN no-fly zone.


Egypt became one of the first export customers when in 1974 bought eight MiG-23MS interceptors, eight MiG-23BN strikers and four MIG-23U trainers, concentrating them into a single regiment based at Mersa Matruh. By 1975 all Egyptian MiG-23’s had been withdrawn from active duty and placed in storage.

In 1978 China purchased two MiG-23MS interceptors, two MiG-23BN’s, two MiG-23U’s, ten MiG-21MF’s, and ten AS-5 Kelt air-to-surface missiles (ASM’s) in exchange for spare parts and technical support for the Egyptian fleet of Soviet-supplied MiG-17 "Frescos" and MiG-21 "Fishbeds". The Chinese used the aircraft as the basis for their J-9 project, which never ventured beyond the research phase.

Some time later the remaining six MIG-23MS examples and six MiG-23BN’s, as well as 16 MiG-21MF’s, two Sukhoi Su-20 "Fitters", two MiG-21U’s, two Mil Mi-8 Hips and ten AS-5 ASM’s were purchased for the Foreign Technology Division, a special department of the USAF, responsible for evaluating ’enemy’ technologies. These were exchanged for weapons and spares support, including AIM-9A/P "Sidewinder" missiles, which were installed on remaining Egyptian MiG-21 "Fishbeds".

Gulf War

During the Persian Gulf War, the United States Air Force reported downing eight Iraqi MiG-23’s with McDonnell Douglas F-15 "Eagles". Some Russian sources claim that a U.S. General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and an Italian "Tornado" were shot down by Iraqi Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" in this war; however the Italian Air Force maintained that the only "Tornado" lost during the war (pilots: Bellini and Cocciolone) was shot down by a ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" AA cannon.

Other claims include the story about an Iraqi pilot named Hassan, flying a Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" having supposedly damaged an General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" with an R-24T missile at 4:30 somewhere south of Balad airbase, and at 5:10 another General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" (tail number 70-2384) being damaged by another R-24T missile fired by a MiG-23 "Flogger". But in a similar fashion to the Italian "Tornado" and Israeli General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" claimed shot down by Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" as the Russians historians affirm, the USAF sustains that while an unidentified General Dynamics F-111F "Aardvark" was indeed damaged near Balad airbase, and F-111F "Aardvark" with tail number 70-2384 also did not return intact, neither damage had anything to do with missile hits: an General Dynamics F-111F "Aardvark" was hit by Iraqi anti-aircraft cannon fire south of the airbase in question, while the General Dynamics F-111F "Aardvark" with tail number 70-2384 suffered a mid-air collision with a Boeing KC-135 "Stratotanker".

An Iraqi Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" was shot down by a USAF General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" using an AMRAAM missile in January 1993, during skirmishes in the No-Fly-Zones.


The MiG-23’s were used in ground attack missions by Ethiopia in 1999 in a border war with Eritrea from May 1998 to June 2000. Three Ethiopian MiG-23BN’s were claimed shot down by Eritrean MiG-29s.

Soviet and Warsaw Pact Service

Because of its distinctive appearance with large air intakes on both sides of the fuselage the aircraft was nicknamed "Cheburashka" by some Soviet pilots after a popular Russian cartoon character representing a fictional animal with big ears. The nickname did not stick and was later firmly assigned to Antonov An-72/74, although to this day it is sometimes applied to different aircraft with similar exterior features, including the USAF Republic A-10 "Thunderbolt II".

The aircraft was not used in large numbers by the non-Soviet air forces of the Warsaw Pact as originally envisioned. When the MiG-23’s were initially deployed, they were considered the elites of the Eastern Bloc air forces. However, very quickly the disadvantages became evident and the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" did not replace the MiG-21 "Fishbed" as initially intended. The aircraft had some deficiencies that limited its operational serviceability and its hourly operating cost was thus higher than the MiG-21’s. The Eastern Bloc air forces used their MiG-23 "Floggers" to replace MiG-17 "Frescos" and MiG-19 "Farmers" still in service.

By 1990, over 1,500 MiG-23’s of different models were in service with the VVS and the V-PVO. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Air Force began to cut Back its fighter force, and it was decided the single-engine MiG-23’s and MiG-27’s were to be retired to operational storage. The last model to serve was the MiG-23P, which was retired in 1998.

When East and West Germany unified, no MiG-23’s were transferred to the West German Air Force, but twelve former East German MiG-23’s were supplied to the U.S. When Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Czechs received all the MiG-23’s, which were retired in 1998. Hungary retired their MiG-23’s in 1996, Poland in 1999, Romania in 2000, and Bulgaria in 2004.

The Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" was the Soviet Air Force’s "Top Gun" equivalent aggressor aircraft from the late 1970’s to the late 1980’s. It proved a difficult opponent for early MiG-29 variants flown by inexperienced pilots. Exercises showed when well-flown, a MiG-23MLD could achieve favorable kill ratios against the MiG-29 in mock combat by using hit-and-run tactics and not engaging the MiG-29’s in dogfights. Usually the aggressor MiG-23MLD’s had a shark mouth painted on the nose just aft of the radome, and many were piloted by Soviet-Afghan War veterans. In the late 1980’s, these aggressor MiG-23’s were replaced by MiG-29’s, also featuring shark mouths.

Performance Tests

Many potential enemies of the USSR and its client states have had opportunities to evaluate the MiG-23’s performance. In the 1970’s, after a political realignment by the Egyptian government, Egypt gave MiG-23MS’s to the United States and the People’s Republic of China in exchange for military hardware. In the US, these MiG-23MS’s, and other variants acquired later from Germany, were used as part of a Soviet military hardware evaluation program. Dutch pilot Leon Van Maurer, who had more than 1,200 hours flying General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcons", flew against MiG-23ML’s from air bases in Germany and the U.S. as part of NATO’s aerial mock combat training with Soviet equipment. He concluded the MiG-23ML was superior in the vertical to early General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" variants, just slightly inferior to the General Dynamics F-16A "Fighting Falcon" in the horizontal, and had superior BVR capability.

The Israelis tested a MiG-23MLD flown to them by a Syrian defector, and found it had better acceleration than the General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 "Hornet".

US and Israeli reports also found that the MiG-23’s Head-Up Display (HUD) doubles as a radarscope, allowing the pilot to keep his eyes focused at infinity while operating his radar. This allowed the Soviets to omit the separate radarscope from the MiG-23. This feature was carried over into the MiG-29, though in that aircraft, a cathode ray tube (CRT) is carried on the upper right corner to double as a radarscope. Western opinions about this "head-up radarscope" are mixed. The Israelis were impressed, but an American General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" pilot criticized it as "sticking a transparent map in front of the HUD" and not providing a three-dimensional presentation that would accurately cue a pilot’s eyes to look for a fighter as it appears in a particular direction.

Additionally, a Cuban pilot flew a MiG-23BN to the US in 1991, and a Libyan Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" pilot also defected to Greece in 1981. In both cases, the aircraft were later repatriated.

The early MiG-23M series was also used to test the American Northrop F-5 "Freedom Fighters" captured by the North Vietnamese and sent to the former USSR for evaluation. The Russians acknowledged the Northrop F-5 "Freedom Fighter" was a very agile aircraft, and at some speeds and altitudes better than the MiG-23M, one of the main reasons the MiG-23MLD and MiG-29 developments were started. These tests allowed the Russians to make modifications to several of their fourth-generation aircraft. The MiG-23, however, was not designed to combat Northrop F-5 "Freedom Fighters", a weakness reflected by early Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" variants.

Early Western reports claimed that the aircraft had poor dogfighting capability, due to being designed to out accelerate the General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark". Later analysis showed the Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" to be equivalent to the McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II", surpassed only by newer fourth-generation fighters, such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 "Eagle" and General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon". (The Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" is considered a third-generation jet fighter.) The Soviet combat manual for MiG-23MLD pilots claims the MiG-23MLD to have a slight superiority over the McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II" and "Kfir", but is no match for the McDonnell Douglas F-15 "Eagle" and General Dynamics F-16 "Fighting Falcon" in most combat parameters. This manual also recommends tactics to be used against these fighters.

Variants 2



Ground-Attack Variants

Proposed Variants and Upgrades

Specifications (MiG-23UB "Flogger-C") 3

General Characteristics

Additional Comments


Weights and Loadings




Additional Note

According to the MiG-23ML manual, the MiG-23ML has a maximum 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 (373 mph) to 900 km/h (559 mph) in just 12 seconds at the altitude of 1000 meters. The Mikoyan MiG-23 "Flogger" accelerates at the altitude of 1 km from the speed of 630 km/h (391 mph) to 1300 km/h (808 mph) in just 30 seconds and at the altitude of 10-12 km will accelerate from Mach 1 to Mach 2 in just 160 seconds.


  1. Photos: John Shupek
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Mikoyan MiG-23
  3. Belyakov, R.A. and J. Marmain. MiG: Fifty Years of Secret Aircraft Design. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press, 1993. ISBN 978-1-55750-566-8. pp 363-366

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