MiG-23 (Family)

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The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 was a supersonic variable-geometry jet fighter originally developed for the Soviet Air Force. Put into service in 1970, it served in more than 35 countries with more than 5,000 units built. The main operators were the Soviet Union, Libya, Syria and Bulgaria.


MiG-23 Nicknames
▃ NATO  Flogger · Midget
▂ Pilots  Чемодан (Suitcase) · Самолет-Гриф (Griffon)


Rank VI

Rank VII


In June 1956, a ministerial order (No.331ss/ov (top-secret, of special importance)) was placed for the development of two separate variants of the new Ye-2 fighter. The full prescription of it was "for the purpose of rapid production mastering and comprehensive testing of new experimental supersonic fighters in the Air Force units, ensure the production of 30 aircraft with the triangular wing design by Mikoyan on plant No. 31, and 30 aircraft with the swept-wing design by Mikoyan on plant No. 21 in 1957". The fighter with the triangular wing design became the MiG-21, but the swept-wing design (Ye-2A) was the first attempt at making the MiG-23. Unfortunately for the aircraft, the "triangular" MiG-21 was seen as more promising in its first few test flights, and thus production of the Ye-2A was quickly abandoned after just five were made. There were further attempts to improve the design with successors like the Ye-50, but none of them were successful.

Despite the promising features of the MiG-21, it was determined by the Military-Industrial Commission under the Council of Ministers of the USSR that a new interceptor fighter was needed due to the rapid discoveries in aerodynamics, construction materials, technological advancements, engine development, aviation equipment, and armament. This again ended up being a modification of the MiG-21 airframe and was to be given the production name MiG-23. The prototypes were named "Ye-8" and were considered a significant modification of the MiG-21PF, featuring a modern armament system, the S-23, which included the "Basalt" radar, the "Spectrum" infrared seeker, and long-range missiles, among major changes to the overall design of the jet. This included horizontal stabilizers, an under-fuselage ridge, an elongated nose section, abandonment of the central intake for an underbelly one, a modified R11F-300 (called the R21F-300) engine, and takeoff weight reduction of the plane to achieve a thrust-to-weight ratio of more than one. The first prototype was finally completed in January 1962, and the second in May of the same year. Original plans for mounting the "Basalt" radar were abandoned, and instead a "Sapphire" radar was supposed to be put in its place (however, this was delayed as it was not ready by that time). As it was tested, the horrific unreliability of the aircraft was revealed. The most documented situation of this happening was during a test flight on September 11, 1962, when Mikoyan Design Bureau's chief test pilot was left seriously injured as a result of the engine compressor disintegrating at an altitude of 15,000 meters. The incident raised serious concerns about safety, and the reputation of the aircraft was also shattered as the pilot was none other than Georgy Mosolov, a world record holder for fastest air speed in a jet and a recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, causing the MiG-23 to become another flop.

The MiG-23 was taken to the design table yet again. However, this time, two Mikoyan-built aircraft were vying for the title. One of them was the MiG-23-01, equipped with lift engines for STOL capabilities. The other contender was the MiG-23-11, which featured variable-geometry wings for improved manoeuvrability. The MiG-23-01 was very unique and could be mistaken for the western Mirage III with its unique features not used by any other Mikoyan design, like the semi-circular section side air intakes. However, some features were largely unchanged from previous designs (notably the Ye-8), like the wings, which only had a slight increase in wingspan (merely as a result of the broader fuselage). There was also an experimental prototype made for testing the lift engines, which received the designation MiG-23-31. However, most of the work was actually focused on the MiG-23-11 due to the very unsuccessful design of the lift engines (as a fun fact, a joke circulated among student engineers, claiming it was "how not to build an airplane"). As one might anticipate, MiG-23-11 eventually became the "real" MiG-23. The design was regarded as being extremely innovative and adaptable for its time, and production got underway with the MiG-23S serving as the first operational variant, which finally finished the six-and-a-half-year run of development.

See also

External links

Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (Микоя́н и Гуре́вич Опытное конструкторское бюро)
Fighters  MiG-3-15 · MiG-3-15 (BK) · MiG-3-34
Jet fighters  MiG-9 · MiG-9 (l)
  MiG-15 · MiG-15bis · MiG-15bis ISH
  MiG-21F-13 · MiG-21PFM · MiG-21S (R-13-300) · MiG-21SMT · MiG-21bis
  MiG-23M · MiG-23ML · MiG-23MLD
  MiG-27M · MiG-27K
  MiG-29 · MiG-29SMT
Export/Licensed  ␗MiG-9 · ␗MiG-9 (l)
  ◊MiG-15bis · ◔MiG-15bis · J-2*
  MiG-17AS · ◔MiG-17PF · J-4* · Shenyang F-5*
  ◊MiG-19S · J-6A*
  ◄MiG-21 SPS-K · ◊MiG-21MF · ◔MiG-21MF · ▄MiG-21bis · ◔MiG-21bis-SAU · ◊MiG-21bis-SAU · ◊MiG-21 "Lazur-M" · ▄MiG-21 Bison · J-7II**
  ◊MiG-23BN · ◊MiG-23MF · ◔MiG-23MF · ◊MiG-23MLA
  ◔MiG-29 · ◊MiG-29 · ◄MiG-29G
  *Licensed and domesticated with Chinese designations.
  **Unlicensed, reverse-engineered and domesticated with Chinese designations.
See Also  Shenyang · Chengdu

Germany jet aircraft
Ar 234  Ar 234 B-2 · Ar 234 C-3
He 162  He 162 A-1 · He 162 A-2
Ho 229  Ho 229 V3
Me 163  Me 163 B · Me 163 B-0
Me 262 A  Me 262 A-1a · Me 262 A-1a/Jabo · Me 262 A-1a/U1 · Me 262 A-1/U4 · Me 262 A-2a
Me 262 C  Me 262 C-1a · Me 262 C-2b
Tornado  ◄Tornado IDS WTD61 · ◄Tornado IDS MFG · ◄Tornado IDS ASSTA1
West Germany  Alpha Jet A
USA  ◄F-84F
  ◄CL-13A Mk 5 · ◄CL-13B Mk.6 · ◄F-86K
  ◄F-4F Early · ◄F-4F · ◄F-4F KWS LV
USSR  ◊MiG-15bis
  ◄MiG-21 SPS-K · ◊MiG-21MF · ◊MiG-21bis-SAU · ◊MiG-21 "Lazur-M"
  ◊MiG-23BN · ◊MiG-23MF · ◊MiG-23MLA
  ◊MiG-29 · ◄MiG-29G
  ◊Su-22UM3K · ◊Su-22M4
Poland  ◊Lim-5P
Britain  ◄Sea Hawk Mk.100 · ◌Hunter F.58 (Swiss)
Italy  ◄G.91 R/3 · ◄G.91 R/4

USSR jet aircraft
Bereznyak-Isayev  BI
Yakovlev  Yak-15 · Yak-15P · Yak-17 · Yak-23 · Yak-28B · Yak-30D · Yak-38 · Yak-38M · Yak-141
Mikoyan-Gurevich  MiG-9 · MiG-9 (l) · MiG-15 · MiG-15bis · MiG-15bis ISH · MiG-17 · MiG-17AS · MiG-19PT
  MiG-21F-13 · MiG-21PFM · MiG-21S (R-13-300) · MiG-21SMT · MiG-21bis
  MiG-23M · MiG-23ML · MiG-23MLD · MiG-27M · MiG-27K
  MiG-29 · MiG-29SMT
Lavochkin  La-174 · La-15 · La-200
Sukhoi  Su-9 · Su-11
  Su-7B · Su-7BKL · Su-7BMK · Su-17M2 · Su-17M4 · Su-22M3
  Su-25 · Su-25BM · Su-25K · Su-25T · Su-25SM3 · Su-39
  Su-27 · Su-27SM
Ilyushin  IL-28 · IL-28Sh
Tupolev  Tu-14T